Harpenden settle for draw

HCPL Division 2 East leaders Harpenden were looking for a solid performance at home to North Mymms after the surprise loss to Hertford from the previous week. Captain Ben Frazer was looking for a good response from his team as the second half of the leagu

HCPL Division 2 East leaders Harpenden were looking for a solid performance at home to North Mymms after the surprise loss to Hertford from the previous week. Captain Ben Frazer was looking for a good response from his team as the second half of the league season commenced. North Mymms won the toss before deciding to bat on a true pitch with a fast outfield but despite a new look pace attack of Ben Mahoney (15-1-74-2) and Nick Lamb (17-2-59-1) it soon became clear that containment was to be of the utmost importance. Harpenden bowled well in the first session and with Mymms at 100-4 off 30 overs the match was well poised on a slow, flat wicket with little swing or spin to assist the bowlers. With a bit of good fortune Harpenden might have had the benefit of a number of close appeals and North Mymms were indebted to their middle order of Rhys Carter (98 off 120 balls), Ben Bagshaw (52 off 94) and Ben Langford (52 off 49) in taking the total to 273-7 off 60 overs with a well timed spurt of acceleration towards the end. Frazer (16-2-59-1) put in a good shift with the ball but an honest assessment might have been that the visitors had plundered an extra 30 runs than the home side would have liked. Harpenden have great faith in their strong batting line up and the early loss of Nick Lamb did not stop Brad Moses (54 off 79 balls) and Gregg Cooper (31 off 52) from getting away to a reasonable start. The loss of Moses after he had just completed his half century was an unfortunate set-back and despite the usual charge from Frazer (49 off 48) and a lively innings from Chris Bennett-Baggs (33* off 61) it became apparent that the required run rate was starting to increase. At 187-3 with 10 overs left there was still scope for a possibly dramatic ending but wickets fell at bad times including two in one over from Robert Clements (11-0-53-2) with none of the batsmen able to take on the role of 'finisher' and those coming in left with too much to do to challenge the target as the close finally came at 218-6.

In reflection skipper Frazer was satisfied with the day's events but he is keeping one eye on important matches to come in the next couple of weeks against Hemel Hempstead and Bishop's Stortford as these will help to shape the success of his first season in charge. Frazer commented "After our loss last week this was a game where we had to show some character and make sure that we didn't lose. Mymms's score was about 30 more than we targeted but after our collapse of last week it was good to come back with a solid batting display. With a bit of luck we would have been right in with a chance for a crack at their total in the final five overs. I was really impressed with Chris Bennett-Baggs's innings as it showed why, in my opinion, he is the best batsman/'keeper in our league. It was also great to have Ben Mahoney back for the first time this season and his first spell showed his class. We are now looking forward to some big games which should decide where the title goes".

It was a very difficult day for all concerned in the Harpenden II match against Radlett II that ended in a disappointing and dismal draw due to the weather. Radlett were delighted to win the toss and had little hesitation in sending Harpenden in on a lively pitch and with a very strong bowling attack including the fiery Johnson Mafa (14-1-49-1). Graeme Sprowson (28 off 85 balls) fended away some early runs and saw off the opening attack but the innings of the day was played by the majestic Barney Francis (86 off 98) whose driving off the front foot was a joy to watch even under the threatening clouds. Assisted by a jaunty Ollie Tuck (25 off 49) and with a belligerent Peter Makower belting a huge six towards the end Harpenden were well pleased with a total of 212-8 off 53 overs with full batting bonus points secured.

The Radlett II reply was always going to be under the threat of the weather but Lloyd Paternott (56 off 65) and David Robinson (43* off 73) made a more than useful start as they put away the bad ball despite some very creditable spin in the wet conditions from both Alex Randall (7-0-32-0) and Makower (14-4-50-0). A turning point could have been a huge appeal for a Randall caught and bowled that was not upheld by the umpires but from this point the game was lost to the mercy of the elements and a keen contest between two ambitious sides ended with a watery whimper. Harpenden captain David Whiteley was keen to accentuate the positive and said "This was a very committed and professional batting performance against the best bowling attack that we've seen this year and on a helpful wicket after we lost the toss. We are extremely pleased to have had the better of the draw in terms of points and I have to say that Barney Francis's innings was just tremendous and he deserved a century".

For Harpenden III and V's it was a weekend to salute the Jones boys as Laurie of the family hammered Hoddesden III for 114* from just 82 balls with 21 x 4's in an

8 wicket victory for the III's and brother Sam kept up for the Joneses with 107 of his own in the Harpenden V drawn match against Berkhamsted IV. For Harpenden IV it was also a good day as they chased down Shenley Village II's 204-8 off 53 overs for the loss of 6 wickets thanks to James Latham (72) and all-rounder Dave Robinson (11-0-52-3 and 40*). Harpenden VI lost to Ampthill Town III after being dismissed for just 106 all out but an enjoyable match featured plenty of juniors on both sides being given the opportunity to show off their skills.