Howard's End for league leaders Harpenden
THERE was some mixed news for Harpenden on Saturday as a very comfortable 10 wicket win over West Herts was tempered by news that former first XI skipper and current middle-order batsman Mike Howard is to retire from first XI cricket with immediate effec
THERE was some mixed news for Harpenden on Saturday as a very comfortable 10 wicket win over West Herts was tempered by news that former first XI skipper and current middle-order batsman Mike Howard is to retire from first XI cricket with immediate effect.
Howard has been a permanent fixture in the Harpenden batting line up for many years scoring thousands of attractive runs and he was first XI skipper when the club gained promotion in to the Home Counties Premier League Division Two East in 2006. He therefore represents the strongest link between the First XI's past and present and has been ideally placed to observe the changes since Ben Frazer's arrival.
Howard said after the game: "We have some great youngsters here in Keenleyside, Bates, Winchester and Spencer to name just a few and I've seen them all develop and I don't want to be standing in their way. Harpenden will always be a sociable and family based club but I'm delighted that the first XI is now also playing some challenging and seriously competitive cricket. I'm very proud of the part that I have played in the club's success but I'm looking forward to a break with my family. It's been a transitional period and I'm thrilled to see Ben Frazer come in and take over with such tremendous energy and focus."
Harpenden proceeded to give Howard the best possible leaving party by dismissing West Herts for 136 all out with Chris Roe (12-4-29-2) taking the key wicket of New Zealand danger-man Neal Parlane (31) to a well judged catch in the deep by Gregg Cooper.
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Captain Frazer was full of praise again for seamer Roe who was made huge progress this season in opening the bowling.
Frazer commented: "Roe and Chris Arnold bowled well again in tandem hitting good areas against one of the best bats in the league."
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In the overs after lunch Harpenden reduced West Herts to 80-5 with Brad Moses (14-5-23-4) and Frazer (15-3-38-2) turning the screw and from this point a home win looked certain. Once again the emphasis on fielding was crucial as catches were held and ground fielding remained sharp and confident.
Nick Lamb (54no off 103 balls) continued to be the Mr. Consistent of the batting order but was happy on this occasion to let Brad Moses (77no off 98) be the senior partner as a 10 wicket win was secured as tea approached. Harpenden remain at the head of the division by 31 points from Letchworth whom they travel to meet in a "top of the table" clash this week.
FOR Harpenden II it was fielding that let them down as five catches of varying difficulty were grassed and this allowed Northwood Town off the hook and towards a total of 128 all out in 41.2 overs in what might be described as difficult playing conditions.
John Kerley (12-3-33-5) took some advantage of an unreliable pitch but it became clear that classical technique might be of little use as Harpenden set out to chase down the runs. Mick Brookes (40 off 82 balls), captain David Whiteley (30 off 50) and Ollie Chinneck (21 off 24) all made some progress but Harpenden stalled to be 119 all out despite being well placed at one stage at 87-2. Richard Doling (10-3-28-6) was the chief tormentor with the Harpenden extraordinary batting card containing no less than five lbws and six ducks.
IN Harpenden III's match there was a happier outcome as Hatfield Hyde's 198 all out from 52.4 overs was overtaken with four wickets in hand thanks to good half centuries from Matt Stannard (50 off 62) and Jake Pankhurst (53 off 72) as well as runs from captain Simon Wade (22 off 24) and Mark Hoefield (27 off 29).
Harpenden could also thank Ian Moxon-Booth (18-4-67-3), Mike Cooper (19-3-58-2) and Hoefield (8.4-1-32-3) as well as three catches in the field taken by Alex Randell for keeping Hatfield Hyde's total to a manageable one. Wade said afterwards: "As a team we didn't acknowledge Stannard and Pankhurst's fifties as well as we might have done and both of them got out. That's something that we'll be working on for next week!"
HARPENDEN IV (currently third in Herts Division Seven) received a reality check at the hands of second placed Flamstead as they were beaten by 93 runs after Flamstead had a stand of 111 for the eigtth wicket with Tim Wilkinson (51) scoring a 50 at number nine.
Only Simon Arnold (29) offered much resistance for Harpenden as David Rogers (13-2-41-5) finished any hopes of a Harpenden victory.