Harpenden reclaim Falkland

Victory pushes Harpenden back in to top half of the table

HCPL Division One

Harpenden 232-7

Falkland 179

Harpenden won by 53 runs

AFTER a victory over Falkland CC that moved Harpenden back in to the top half of the HCPL table, captain Nick Lamb responded to any questions with “Please don’t mention Fraze this week”.

It isn’t entirely clear if Lamb is actually fed up with discussing his star all-rounder who can barely put a foot wrong at present or if he is trying to avoid putting a jinx on Frazer’s current form.

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After a whirlwind and match-winning century for Hertfordshire last week, Frazer (71 in 69 balls and 20-4-57-6) was at it again for his club striking a carefree half century and then taking his turn with the ball. As if the runs weren’t enough Frazer took four wickets in an over including a hat-trick as he claimed an lbw, a stumping courtesy of Chris Warn and a clean bowled. Frazer was last seen leaving the ground clutching a selection of lotto tickets.

The Falkland innings turned in to a lottery of sorts as, chasing Harpenden’s 232-7 in 63 overs, they were well placed at 157-2 with Bruce Martin (61 in 72) and Hampshire all-rounder Hamza Riazuddin (57 in 101) both making fifties but after they were removed by Frazer five of the remaining seven batsmen recorded ducks.

Lamb said: “It was a strange game in many ways as it looks like we ran out comfortable winners but it was a bit tight at one stage.

“Fraze just keeps pulling it out of the bag for us. He mixes it up, gets his quicker ball in there sometimes and they couldn’t keep him out.

“Other than that, I was very impressed with our opener Gregg Cooper today. His innings at the top of our order was vital as the ball was hooping round corners. Riazuddin was a real handful and I reckon that he’s the best bowler we’ve seen this season”.

Cooper (40 in 88) was in with the conditions at their spiciest and early on it was a case of survival with few runs coming in front of square.

That Cooper survived was thanks to a sound defensive technique along with an opener’s classic ‘soft hands’ as well as low risk shots like running the ball down to third man as he anchored the innings to 85-4. By this time Frazer was in and he was joined by Will Spencer (32 in 83) and later Simon White (41* in 45) who then helped to add late runs. White then added a final unbeaten 45 for the 8th wicket with Ollie Tuck (14* in 18) as Harpenden posted a competitive score.

Lamb added: “This was just what we needed - a real team performance to get us over the disappointments of the past few weeks. I’ll take that and we’ll move on to next week and another important match at home against Welwyn Garden. That’s got loads for us to look forward to as we know those guys so well.”

In the corresponding fixture earlier in the season the spoils were shared as Lamb and Jamie Hewitt (Hertfordshire colleagues) both scored centuries.

Since then Harpenden have won four matches whilst Welwyn are above only Radlett in the table with neither of the bottom two sides having yet recorded a win in the league this season.

n It has been a few dark weeks for Richard Darwin as his Harpenden II team have struggled to find much form with bat or ball.

Like the fortunes of Sunday newspapers such things can turn in an instant and against Hemel Hempstead Darwin (12-4-31-5) was celebrating a bag of wickets and completely outplaying a team ranked much higher in the league. In fact, only a single wicket stood between Harpenden and full points as Hemel clung on for a draw at 125-9 in 47 overs chasing Harpenden’s 221-8 in 53.

As so often, the headlines were initially drafted by the thoroughbred Tony Hooper (67) who set the tone and his lead was followed by the experienced Mark Fettes (43*) and youngster Ben Cawood (42).

In a dramatic change from the last few weeks there were plenty of players taking on responsibility and Darwin was able to relax with runs on the board. Seamers Joe Peck (12-5-27-2) and Chris Roe (12-2-30-2) bowled spells both similar in quality and analysis and all that was missing was that final wicket.

Darwin was a much happier skipper after the match: “We’ve had a tough run and I really hope we’ve come through it. We’ve changed a few things around and I’m much more excited about the cricket that we produced this week. That’s what I’ve been after.

“We spoke before the game about learning from what we’ve been through together and I saw a response today and I’m thrilled with that.”

n Harpenden III are staring up from the foot of the Division Three table and North Enfield made life no easier as they chased down 143 all out in 46 overs to win by nine wickets.

A good opening stand of 91 for the first wicket between the consistent Duncan Gilson (47) and the breezy Simon Arnold (44) was wasted somewhat as Harpenden stumbled to a below par score.

Skipper Simon Wade now has some “make or break” games on the horizon in which a win or two would be as welcome as back-stage passes to the Olympic beach volleyball. On Saturday, Harpenden take on former player Adam Winchester’s Wheathampstead in what might be one such “make or break” match.

n Harpenden IV lost to Eversholt II by five wickets and the V lost to Cockfosters IV by nine wickets.

Whilst Harpenden VI also lost to Northwood Town III by four wickets there was a good news story in that club chairman Steve Hewlett (11-3-39-3) relinquished the ‘keeping gauntlets to U-13 star Euan Stewart in order to turn his arm over to excellent effect in a rare spell.

On Sunday, Harpenden hosted it’s 7th annual “Club Day” as organised by the tireless Malcolm Driscoll. This all-day competition provides the perfect opportunity for colts and members of the senior club to combine together and compete against each other.

After a great day’s play, defending champion Steve Hewlett narrowly lost out to the team led by first XI skipper Nick Lamb who was supported by Adam Driscoll, Jack Killen, Harry Josephs, Jack Rowe, Archie Finch, Tom Allen and Dan Bradley.