Harpenden miss out in tense finale

Wycombe death bowling ensures a share of the spoils

HCPL Division One

High Wycombe 263-7

Harpenden 257-9

Match drawn

THERE was a tense finale at Harpenden Common on Saturday as the home side entered the final over needing 14 runs to secure their second win of the season.

Their efforts were ultimately in vain as High Wycombe’s death bowling proved to be of the highest calibre leaving the home side needing seven from the last ball of the game, a delivery that Will Bates was forced to defend resulting in a share of the spoils.

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That Ben Frazer’s troops were in with a shout of maximum points was remarkable having slipped to 28-3 early on.

Some big hitting in the middle order from Frazer (63), debutant Rob Farenheim (55) and Pat Foster (57) recovered the situation and had one of them gone on to make a three figure contribution the game surely would’ve been Harpenden’s.

Earlier in the day High Wycombe had posted 263-7 thanks to some big runs from their own middle order.

Ben Mahoney bowled superbly early on and claimed the first wicket of Nitin Sehgal courtesy of a beautiful Yorker but Matt Eyles (41) and Alan Duncan steadied the ship and put on 54 for the second wicket before Eyles fell lbw to Frazer.

Duncan and his new partner Paul Sawyer really turned the screw on Harpenden and crafted a useful partnership of 70 before Foster struck to claim his first victim.

The former Northants man had Duncan caught for 61 thanks to a superb catch by Gregg Cooper out on the boundary.

They say in cricket that one wicket often leads to another and that proved the case for Harpenden, Matthew Gitsham run out without facing a ball.

Foster soon picked up victim number two, Sawyer (58) gifting Jake Pankhurst the catch.

Frazer bowled Robbie Jones (40) and had David Cranfield-Thompson (20) trapped lbw but some lusty hitting from Keith Newell (10*) and Christopher Sketchley (8*) including a huge six off the last ball proved costly in the end as High Wycombe ended on 263-7 from their 66 overs.

With 14 less overs in which to chase down the target Harpenden were already handicapped and their innings didn’t get off to the best of starts with Chris Bennett-Baggs (1) caught at square leg by Sehgal in the fourth over.

Nick Lamb (15) soon joined Bennett-Baggs back in the pavilion, bowled by Sawyer, before Ben Clements (10) was controversially given out, caught behind off the bowling of Peter Connell.

Enter Farenheim and Frazer who produced the game’s biggest partnership putting on 95 for the fourth wicket.

Both innings were polar opposites, Farenheim slowly building while Frazer bludgeoned the visitor’s bowling attack to all parts of the ground.

Crucially for the hosts though Frazer fell just before tea, holing out to Eyles for 63 to give Sawyer his third victim.

For his first game at the level Farenheim really played well and when he did release the shackles he impressed.

The batsmen not only left his mark on the game but also the pavilion too, firing a huge six into the building and sending the patrons running for cover.

Farenheim’s innings ended disappointingly when he mistimed a shot and skied an easy catch to Sawyer leaving Harpenden 70 runs short of victory.

With Foster, struggling with a knee injury, also blitzing the bowlers to the boundary regularly Harpenden stood a good chance of claiming the victory but shortly after amassing a well deserved half-century the all-rounder was caught playing one shot too many by Sawyer out on the boundary.

Will Bates coped well under the pressure with an unbeaten 29 but with wickets falling regularly at the other end the odds were swinging in Wycombe’s favour.

Connell trapped Cooper (9) lbw and when David Keenleyside was bowled by Sawyer moments after smashing an excellent boundary Harpenden’s hopes rested with Bates and the tail.

With 14 required off the last over the hosts started positively with a couple of singles and a four off the first three balls.

Wycombe struck back though claiming the scalp of Jake Pankhurst (2) leaving Ben Mahoney (1*) and Bates to see out the final two balls for the draw.