Harpenden hammer Henley

Frazer’s rich vein of form with the bat continues

HCPL Division One

Henley 230 Harpenden 231-6

Harpenden won by four wickets

IT was ‘iscovery Day on Harpenden Common on Saturday but the happiest Lamb on show was Harpenden’s skipper, Nick.

All that opponents Henley were able to discover was that Ben Frazer (88 in 59 balls) continues in such a rich vein of run scoring form that a current average of 62 could have him on course for an extraordinary league aggregate of runs in the season.

Whilst Harpenden families were content to ‘Throw the Welly’ behind the sightscreens at the far end of the ground, Frazer was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Henley attack as he struck nine 4s and five 6s in another breathtaking innings for his side. Chasing an obtainable target of 230 albeit on a slowish pitch, skipper Lamb (58 in 108) dug deep to add 110 for the third wicket with his minor county colleague Frazer before a minor collapse left Harpenden at 196-6 and with the match still to win.

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Due to the absence of promising young batsman Ed Washington, ex-first XI skipper Mike Howard (20* in 29) had been called back to first team colours and from number seven in the order and with Simon White (19 in 15) for company he put on an unbroken 35 to win the game. Earlier in the day Howard had also bowled some tidy overs of medium pace and had every reason to be pleased with his contribution.

After the game and before an appointment at the Harpenden Rugby Club dinner Howard said: “It was fun to be back in it and a tremendous game to be involved in. I really enjoyed it. It was tight but we were confident of getting it home and Simon White and I have been in that position many times before. We just backed ourselves to not get out and see it through”.

Henley had earlier seen both captain Bjorn Mordt (56 in 111) and ex-Leicestershire all-rounder Carl Crowe (55 in 111) make half centuries in a stand of 113 as they rescued their side from a precarious 25-3 but their rate of scoring put Frazer’s later blitz in to some context. White (17.2-5-50-3) and left-arm spinner Jon Ryan (10-1-47-3) were the most successful of the bowlers with the off spinning Frazer (18-1-62-2) also picking up a couple of wickets as well as a catch off Ryan and a run out to have an early influence on the game. For those with an interest in the noble art of wicket-keeping there were also two very fine glovers on display in Harpenden’s Chris Warn and Henley’s Australian and pad-less Todd Ferguson.

After the game Lamb was very satisfied: “This is our third win and they’re very hard to come by in this league. We hung in there when Henley sensed a breakthrough and I’m pretty happy to watch someone as experienced as Mike Howard go and knock it around to win the game for us. I never had any doubts about him and I had a feeling he’d come in useful around the No. 7 spot.

“Fraze is just doing what he does best and he keeps putting us right in contention in these matches”.

Next week Harpenden visit Bishop’s Stortford who were promoted last season and won out in the Herts Cup semi-final between the sides played on The Common. Lamb’s view: “There’s no sour grapes. They deserved to win on the day as I remember it and we’ll treat them with respect. We’ll certainly be looking to reverse the cup result on our own turf though!”.

For the other Harpenden sides it was a day for weeping wielders of the willow as all of the II, III and IV teams had collapses that would make a freshly made jelly look stable.

The various skippers despaired as no player made a half century during the IIs’ defeat to Broxbourne by nine wickets, the IIIs’ loss to Totteridge IIs by five wickets and the IVs’ capitulation to Wheathampstead II by eight wickets. Perhaps only young batman Navin Pancharatnam (32 in 47) for the 2nds and young left-arm spinner Alex Randall (15-2-40-3) for the IIIs could hold their heads up, particularly Randall as he opened the bowling and reduced Totteridge to 48-5 before a stout middle order stand saw the opposition home with few further alarms.

Second XI skipper Richard Darwin spoke for everyone when he said: “I knew mine was a bad toss to lose but we still need to do much better and the batters need to take on their responsibilities. It isn’t up to the same people week after week to keep churning out the runs. Sometimes it’s someone else’s turn to step up and play the innings that we need. This is the time for people to commit themselves, get themselves in and then make it count”.

Harpenden V were able to provide some good news on a day that really needed some as they soundly beat Bentley Heath II by 86 runs. David Josephs (54) made a fine half century before George Finch (7-1-23-5) ripped through the Heath’s batting to cause a collapse of his own in tandem with his captain Ben Dearman (10-3-36-4). Unfortunately the batting malaise did extend to the VI who were all out for 82 in their league match against Division 14 leaders Preston IV.