No relegation drama as Harpenden end worries with ease

There would have been more celebrations as Harpenden avoided relegation.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

There would have been more celebrations as Harpenden avoided relegation. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Harpenden will spend another season at the top level of the Saracens Herts Cricket League after a comfortable seven-wicket play-off win against Hoddesdon.

The Common-based cricket club had been forced into the drama of a promotion and relegation showdown after finishing second from bottom of the table.

But even though their visitors were in confident mood after clinching second in the tier below, the drama and tension never raised its head for the hosts.

Harpenden’s bowlers got first crack at their opponents after skipper Ben Frazer won the toss.

And they didn’t give the Hoddesdon attack any chance to cut loose, taking wickets at regular intervals.

The biggest partnership came for the second wicket with Rob Walters (49) and Ross Clarke (31) adding 70 to the total.

But when William Latham trapped Clarke lbw it signalled the end of any real resistance.

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Arthur Garrett proved the main threat as he rattled through the middle order and tail to claim 4-24 from his nine overs.

Frazer took one wicket himself and there were two moments of celebration for Nick Lamb.

Andrew Neal, who had started things off by claiming the first wicket, came back to finish Hoddesdon off, having Harry Mason caught behind and leaving him with 2-13.

It meant a target of 166 for Harpenden and it was a chase that they never looked like failing in.

Frazer went fairly early, with Harpenden on 25, but Gregg Cooper and Alex Axon moved that on to 98 before the latter was stumped while on 40.

Clements was the last man out but with Lamb now in tandem with Cooper, the hosts eases their way across the line with more than 11 overs to spare.

Lamb finished unbeaten on 20 but it was Cooper who was the star of the show, making 74 not out from 118 balls, a knock that included nine fours.

Draws had proven Harpenden’s downfall during the course of the regular season with five of the 18 ended with a definitive victor.

Their batting bonus points were the highest in the league though which will give them plenty of confidencefor 2019 where the play-offs will once again be the aim, as long as they are the championship variety this time.