Harpenden in Banbury stunner
Harpenden record first HCPL win of the season
HCPL Division One
Harpenden 259 Banbury 249
Harpenden won by ten runs
Harpenden may have to consider calling in a chartered surveyor to check the roof of their pavilion after the home crowd were in severe danger of raising it when Ben Frazer took the final and triumphant Banbury wicket in the last over of Saturday’s HCPL encounter. Frazer (80 in 84 balls and 20.2-2-85-3) trapped the Banbury captain and No. 10 Ian Hawtin (25 in 40) LBW after he had previously been involved in a 9th wicket partnership of 58 that had turned this extraordinary game upside down once more. Such was the passion of the final appeal that Harpenden were not to be denied a famous victory. Nick Lamb, 1st XI skipper this year after taking over from Frazer in the winter, later admitted that he had never beaten Banbury in many previous attempts. He said: “This is a special result for the club and I hope that we can keep this unbeaten run going but I don’t want to get carried away. We need to keep focus for our local derby against Radlett coming up but I’m delighted for the boys. Banbury are a strong side and one to be respected every time you play them. The roar of the crowd when Fraze took the last wicket was amazing and we received such great support from our fans throughout the day and I genuinely believe this helped us get the win we so wanted”.
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Lamb’s words were remarkably coherent as earlier in the day he had been felled by a vicious lifter from Luke Radford, son of ex-England and Worcester opening seamer, Neal Radford. Lamb (43 in 72) battled on to provide some valuable runs in support of Aussie opener Ricky Damiano (66 in 71) who continues to impress everyone who watches this stylish player in prime form. At 187-3 and with Frazer sending the ball to all parts, Harpenden had their eye on a total well in excess of 300 but a minor batting collapse then found an unlikely hero. Joe Peck (19 in 30 at No. 11) is not everyone’s idea of the man to bat for your life but on this occasion his good eye and a dash of the unorthodox enabled him to add 23 precious runs for the last wicket. A final score of 259 all out in 58.5 overs was difficult to judge in terms of a par score but Lamb confessed afterwards: “We thought that we were still probably 20-30 runs short at the end of our innings but we didn’t know then just how well Pecky had done for us”. Luke Ryan (23.5-6-52-6) also deserved his applause as he walked off with fine figures from a long spell of left-arm spin.
When bowling second a good start with the ball is vital in any game but Banbury had clearly noted that there was little to trouble them from the pitch as they were handily placed at 117-2 before a mid-order collapse of their own was brought on by Simon White (13-1-39-3). In a game of so many turning points, this was yet another as Lamb identified: “Whitey showed that bowling straight is the best way forward on any wicket and picked up three vital ones which I think changed the course of the game”. At 191-8 some people may have thought it was safe to head for the exits but Hawtin’s late charge added another dimension as overs ticked away and the tension in the crowd rose to feverish levels. With bells still ringing in his ears Lamb took the penultimate wicket leaving Frazer with six balls left to claim maximum points. He needed only two as the bells turned to cheers.
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Harpenden’s II made the journey over to Welwyn with what may have been thought an under-strength side but those with any doubts were put to shame. Richard Darwin’s team forced WGC to regret their decision to chase the game by batting second having won the toss. Runs came easily again to Tony Hooper (42 in 68) and his partner Barney Francis (41 in 86) as they almost posted yet another Harpenden century opening stand. A flurry of wickets then brought Mike Howard (85 in 73) to the crease and he soon revealed himself to be in sumptuous form. Howard found an ally in the attacking blade of Laurence Jones (35 in 50) and the two added 113 for the 4th wicket as they assaulted the trees surrounding the ground with a number of huge sixes. A score of 249-6 in 53 overs was a tremendous effort from the batters but the pitch was a good one and the outfield down the hill extremely fast. Welwyn went for it from the first over of the reply but were soon in trouble especially once Darwin had dived to pick up a superlative catch at cover. Howard also dived full length to take another catch on the boundary and Allah Tawakkal (15-5-49-3) was starting to turn the ball wickedly. Darwin (10-1-27-2) mixed up his bowlers to force a breakthrough and Howard’s outswing took the team to within one wicket of a breathtaking win but seven overs at the last pair were not enough as WGC blocked for the draw despite a huge shout for an LBW that struck the batsman on the full toss. Darwin said: ‘’Whilst the result was frustrating this was comfortably our best team performance so far. Mike Howard’s was a brilliant knock and Allah Tawakkal really impressed me as our new “mystery” spinner”.
Harpenden III were over-powered as they lost to Holtwhites Trinibis by 9 wickets. A first innings score of 180 all out in 53 overs reflected the trouble that the Harpenden batsmen had against a powerful bowling unit and it was never likely to be enough. Totteridge Millhillians 4th XI also had a resounding win as they posted 228 all out in 52 overs to beat Harpenden 4th XI by 110 runs despite John Mihill (11-2-19-6) doing a fine job with the ball. Finally, the strong arm of the law made it a trio of poor results for Harpenden as the Met. Police 3rd XI beat Harpenden 5th XI by 87 runs.