Harpenden II bounce back in style

Harpenden II recovered from last week’s disaster at Hemel Hempstead with a 10 wicket win at Letchworth II

For the Harpenden II squad it had been a long week and before the match against Letchworth GCCC some honest words were said by both captain David Whiteley and coach Alan Garofall after the dismal capitulation against Hemel Hempstead.

The gist of the instruction was for the IIs to prove that they could be a force to be reckoned with and to put in a performance as a benchmark for the rest of the season. Things were not helped by a hand injury to regular ‘keeper Graeme Sprowson resulting in Australian Sam Wiese taking the gloves at short notice but this proved the only disturbing incident of the afternoon at Letchworth’s picturesque second ground.

In benign conditions and having chosen to bat first Letchworth were simply steam-rollered as John Kerley (12-2-45-4), James Absalom (9-4-21-3) and Mike Howard

(4-0-10-3) powered through the batting line up with Sam Wiese helping himself to three catches behind the stumps as generous gifts on his birthday. Only Navin Seneviratne (37 in 46 balls) looked like a man in any sort of form as Letchworth were reduced to 59-9 in no time. A 30 run stand for the last wicket took the total up to 89 all out in 27 overs but Harpenden were not held up for long with Mark Fettes and David Whiteley taking catches that featured low levels of difficulty but high levels of

entertainment value.

Wiese (49*) and Tony Hooper (38*) made short work of the target hitting the ball very hard around a quick outfield and against bowling that both found to their liking. On this showing Wiese in particular suggested that a run of heavy scoring might not be very far away.

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Whiteley announced himself much more satisfied: “This was a professional performance and I was delighted with the response I got from the players after last week. Our level of intensity was a lot better and I’m pleased that Sam Wiese has started to show his real talent. However, this is a long season and we must approach each game at a time and ensure that we continue our improvement”.

A local derby always whets the appetite and St Albans II versus Harpenden III at St George’s School was no exception. Harpenden were under some pressure as the Saints’ ex-first skipper Ian McKinlay (99*) carried his bat as well as putting on 126 for the 1st wicket with fellow opener Mike Curtis (60 in 83 balls). The introduction of the competitive Matt Cooper (21-0-71-4) and Duncan Gilson (21-5-74-3) turned the match around as Saints were finally dismissed for a below par 194 all out.

In the reply Simon Arnold (37 in 63 balls) threatened to cut loose after taking some time to get comfortable but the innings of the day was played by captain Simon Wade (84* in 92 balls). The versatile Wade remains invaluable to his side for his ability to slot in almost anywhere in the batting order inside the top six and joined by Guy Watts (39* in 62 balls) these two made light work of the run chase with an unbroken stand of 113 for the fourth wicket. Wade unfurled majestic and consecutive straight 6’s as the end came in to sight to complete a fine win by seven wickets in what looks to be a very competitive Third Division.

It was a bad day for the IV and V XI’s as both lost due to poor batting batting efforts against Redbourn 2nd XI and St. Margaretsbury III respectively. Harpenden IV made only 97 all out to lose by eight wickets whilst their V XI colleagues lost by 30 runs despite Iqbal Hussain (56) scoring a half century. Returning players and improved availability will enable these sides to pick up on their slow starts to the season. The VI XI had a better time of it falling one wicket short of the win against Botany Bay IV. A total of 198-5 thanks to Sam Jeater (62) was a good target but David Byrne (12-2-40-3) and Imi Hussain (13-5-20-3) were unable to make the final breakthrough with the ball as The Bay finished on 170-9 but honour came with the draw as the sides shook hands.