Harps forced to settle for tie

Harpenden 161 all out tied with West Herts 161 all out HARPENDEN managed the extraordinary feat of two tied matches on the same day as the First XI and Third XI were unable to squeeze the winning runs in either league match against West Herts or Southgate

Harpenden 161 all out tied with West Herts 161 all out

HARPENDEN managed the extraordinary feat of two tied matches on the same day as the First XI and Third XI were unable to squeeze the winning runs in either league match against West Herts or Southgate Adelaide respectively.

Despite both teams failing to win they remain at the top of their divisions with two weeks to go.

Ben Frazer's First XI were made to pay the penalty of allowing West Herts to get away to a decent start at 75-1 with the excellent Neal Parlane (71 off 91 balls) notching a half-century before Harpenden woke up to the importance of the match and reduced their opponents to 111-7.

A stand of 26 for the ninth wicket would prove to be crucial as Joe Warren (18* off 20) took what luck came his way to inch the total up to 161 all out off 43 overs. Frazer (19-5-58-6) opened the bowling himself and took his tally of league wickets to 43 just ahead of South African Brad Moses (9-2-36-2) who currently has 39 victims.

Chris Bennett-Baggs had some tidy gloves with three catches and Harpenden were happy enough with the target that they were chasing.

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What followed was a roller-coaster ride as Harpenden looked set to record a useful victory as they tilt at the HCPL Division Two East title as they reached 132-5.

Brad Moses (45 off 49) made useful runs to add to his wickets but Mike Howard (33 off 101) was the keystone at number seven as the match reached a fascinating end game.

Wickets fell to the worthy combination of Matt Smith (28-10-71-5) and Duncan Hodges (16.5-5-24-3) as Harpenden stumbled to 155-8 before Howard then was out to a crucial forcing shot with the scores tied.

An age then seemed to pass as Harpenden sought the winning run but tail-enders Richard Darwin and Ben Mahoney were unable to pierce the field as West Herts claimed the final wicket and the teams departed the field each with honour and the points for a tie.

HARPENDEN II had much the easiest day as they overwhelmed a lowly King's Langley by 10 wickets. Langley were dismissed in 18.2 overs for just 53 with a procession of batsmen looking bereft of form and short of confidence.

Harpenden's bowling was straight and good enough with the seam bowlers all deserving a name-check as Aussie Justin Savio (6-2-10-3) so nearly took his second hat-trick of the season supported by Joe Peck (6-0-16-2) and Chris Roe (3-0-10-3).

Keeper Graeme Sprowson helped himself to four catches behind the stumps including a well judged skier from the dangerous Ricky Jadanauth.

Tony Hooper (24* off 33 balls) and Ollie Tuck (28* off 34) knocked off the runs and captain David Whiteley said afterwards: "King's Langley beat us last year in Division Three so it was fantastic bowling by all our bowlers to really turn the tables on them.

SOME poor availability had an effect on Harpenden III in their league match against fellow high fliers Southgate Adelaide with several players missing and wicket-keeper Paul Goodwin taking over the captaincy for the week.

Things went according to plan early on as James Absalom (18-3-46-5) continued his impressive season with another valuable haul of wickets. Adelaide were all out for 184 in 51.4 overs and at this stage the odds favoured Harpenden in the run chase.

An unfortunate start then saw both openers dismissed to a combination of a run out at the non-striker's end from a deflected drive and a catch from a waist high full toss. The elegant Deshan Karunaratne (88* off 110 balls) put these disappointments behind him as he took Harpenden to the very brink of victory at 184-7 but at this stage reality was placed on hold.

With the valiant Sri Lankan marooned at the wrong end Brian Cohen (5.5-0-20-5) performed the remarkable feat of conceding no runs whilst taking three wickets in his last over to snatch a tie from the very jaws of defeat.

However, Harpenden remain top of Division 4 with a potential title decider this week against Northampton Exiles.

Goodwin provided his thoughts afterwards: "Having got ourselves in to a match winning position, it was disappointing to lose three late wickets and end up with a tie, not least because Deshan deserved to be on the winning side.

"However we picked up 20 points against one of the stronger teams in the league and we have extended our lead at the top of the table to 30 points with only two games to go."

IN a less feverish atmosphere Harpenden IVs and Eversholt IIs played out a tranquil draw as Harpenden were unable to seriously challenge Eversholt's 203 all out in 53 overs. Jason Guest (24-4-85-5) took a worthy five-wicket haul in the heat for Harpenden but the batting was unable to return the compliment.

Ed Brown (80* off 101 balls) and Mark Hoefield (36 off 58) added 71 for the fourth wicket but Harpenden closed at 174-8 in 47 overs but they remain in the promotion places in Division Seven strangely sandwiched between two sides from Old Cholmeleians.

BATTING was a joy to behold in the Harpenden V match as Sam Jones (123*) continued his remarkable season in a 254 run partnership for the second wicket with John Hoskings (130). Club stalwarts were hurriedly sent to check the record books as this was the highest partnership for any wicket that most could remember.

Teenager Jones now has three league tons to his credit and over 1,000 runs in the season and is looking forward to next year already.