Hooper hundred the highlight for Harpenden II

Opener hits unbeaten 131 in draw with OFs

SHCL Division 2

Old Finchleians 240-4 Harpenden II 214-8

Match drawn

HARPENDEN II felt a little hard done by on Harpenden Common as Old Finchleians arrived late, then won the toss and chose to bat first on a good pitch looking to secure their bonus points.

Harpenden struggled early on with a brisk, cold wind and an early dropped catch caused heads to drop as Matt Fletcher (64 in 77 balls) and Chetan Depala Snr. (59 in 130) just failed to post a century opening stand. When an injection of pace was required in the innings, Chetan Depala Jnr. (85 in 68) showed excellent judgement as OF’s climbed to a position of strength which allowed them to declare at the mid-point on 240-4 in 50 overs.

On the fast scoring Common this was a finely judged declaration indeed but Harpenden knew they had not performed well in the field with Matt Cooper (14-0-86-3) the most successful bowler but his wickets came at a healthy cost.

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From this point it was a Tony Hooper (131* in 140) master-class with his driving through the off-side containing all the majesty and beauty of the Middleton sisters. Hooper is a scientist by day and his dissection of the OF’s field was clinical as he played a lone hand, first in pursuit of victory and eventually securing the draw as his middle order let him down. Harpenden closed on 214-8 in their 50 overs with Depala Jnr. (21-3-70-2) imparting some complex leg-breaks.

Skipper Richard Darwin had understandably mixed feelings about the match: “It’s frustrating as we had the batting to win and our openers gave us the best start possible. Hoops is without doubt one of the finest batsmen in this league and he showed everyone how he can play. When he’s in this form he has so much more time than everyone else. We’ll take the draw on a day when, Hooper apart, we didn’t perform as well as I’d have liked. Both sides certainly had their chances.”

* A gloomy Simon Wade had to admit that his Harpenden III side had been well beaten on the day by an efficient Southgate Adelaide. “We have to accept being outplayed but I’m disappointed” said Wade. “We did all the things you shouldn’t do like dropping catches and not building partnerships but we found it hard against the old ball and two decent spinners”. Having posted 282-6 declared in 49 overs Adelaide were entitled to the old ball under league rules as Isherwood (12-1-33-3) proved a real handful. For Harpenden Ben Cawood (39) put some gutsy runs on the board in the same week as having an operation on his wisdom teeth but otherwise Harpenden batsmen were extracted without difficult as only Simon Arnold (25) added many more as the innings fell away to 205 all out in 39.4 overs. A silver lining for Harpenden came in the form of 16 bonus points.

* Harpenden IV 263-8 dec. in 50 overs drew with Southgate Adelaide 2nd XI 221-6 in 50 overs. Terry McGrath (67) and young Billy Lange-Hewlett (50* at No. 9) were in good form with the bat but wickets proved hard for Harpenden to come by.

* Harpenden V 288-7 dec. in 41.4 overs drew with Southgate Compton 2nd XI 148-9 in 48 overs. Andy Keens (91) and 14-year-old Nick Winchester (102) put on 153 for the 1st drop but later wickets for John Mihill (10-3-20-3) were not quite enough to get Harpenden over the line.

* Kings Langley IV 122 all out in 41.2 overs LOST TO HARPENDEN 6th XI 123-3 in 33.1 overs. The 6th XI record the only Harpenden victory of the day. Paul Cramer (14.2-4-31-5) was the architect of Langley’s downfall as Bryn Luffman (56*) then notched a half ton to secure a comfortable win.