Harpy bow out in semis

Bishop’s Stortford secure place in final with three wicket win over Harpenden

Herts Cup semi-final

Harpenden 184

Bishop’s Stortford 185-7

Bishop’s Stortford won by three wickets

After the entire Harpenden Saturday league programme had been washed out, Sunday saw the Herts Cup semi-final between a useful Bishop’s Stortford side currently topping the HCPL Division 2 East and Ben Frazer’s team still fighting it out in the HCPL Division 1.

Stortford would have been pleased to win the toss and bowl first but at 159-2 and with opener Chris Bennett-Baggs (56 in 59 balls) and Aussie Ben Clements (82 in 85) both going well it looked as if Harpenden would set a mighty total. A verdant outfield made quick runs hard to come by as did competitive Stortford fielding but a total of well in excess of 200 would have made life very hard for the team batting second although Frazer admitted afterwards - and was proved right - that he would have been satisfied with 225 from the full 50 overs.

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As it was, Clements went caught and bowled and then a string of poorly considered and then executed shots saw Harpenden slump to 184 all out in 47.1 overs with Mike Howard (11 in 28) the only other batsman to make it in to double figures. The later Harpenden batting card read like a bar-code and much credit for that was due to the Stortford support bowling of Alexander Smith (5.1-1-21-4), Steve Colman (10-3-34-3) and Simon Lindop (10-4-10-1) who all made life very difficult as the old ball became more difficult to get away.

Harpenden knew that early wickets and pressure would be vital if they were to make it to the final and Chris Arnold (8.3-1-28-2) continued his good form as Stortford ran in to their own problems at 17-2 and then 43-4. However, as the ball got older, Stortford managed to put together the middle order partnerships that Harpenden had found beyond them. Three fine 40’s from man-of-the-match Smith (42 in 80), Luke Padgett (47 in 80) and Lindop (40* in 45 at No. 8) contributed to stands of 66 for the 5th wicket, 34 for the 7th and an unbroken 38 for the 8th as Harpenden could not break down Stortford’s resistance.

Frazer (10-1-25-1) shuffled his bowlers, bringing Lamb (10-0-40-2) back from the pavilion end and trying himself from the other but whatever demons had been in the pitch had long since departed. When Jake Pankhurst (10-0-55-2) had Mark Townsend (1 in 8) caught at point swiping across the line Harpenden had a glimpse but a couple of tight run out chances went begging and Paul Reed (16* in 25) was able to accompany Lindop back to the pavilion with three wickets and 2.3 overs left in hand.

As with other matches this season, Harpenden will reflect on what might have been, the inability to put together a crucial batting partnership and to take a vital wicket when the game was there to be won. Frazer admitted: “This is a hugely disappointing result for us and one that as players we need to have a look at. We were in a great position to push on and take Stortford out of the game and we collapsed. Before the game I wanted 225 on that wicket and we were 130-odd for one and that says it all. With a low total not only did we have to take wickets early but we had to bowl tightly and field well but we bowled too many wides and bad deliveries meaning we couldn’t build enough pressure. I would like to congratulate Stortford as they fully deserved their win and we wish them well in the final”.

Looking forward Frazer said: “We now have three league games left and we need two wins to stay up in the HCPL where I believe this club should be playing it’s cricket”.

Harpenden are away to High Wycombe CC this week.