Lamb makes winning start as captain
Spinners Ryan and Frazer do the damage
Harpenden 150 (36.3 overs)
Letchworth 115 (36 overs)
Harpenden won by 35 runs
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HARPENDEN captain Nick Lamb declared himself pleased after seeing his side record a 35-run victory over Letchworth GC in their first pre-season friendly of the summer.
Chris Bennett-Baggs (21 in 63 balls) shared a promising 53 run opening partnership with Will Spencer (31 in 46) before Lamb (29 in 29) and Ed Washington (20 in 26) made a valuable middle order contribution as runs were harder to come by than the home side would have liked.
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Letchworth also started well with a 48 run opening stand of their own but left-arm spinner Jon Ryan (7-1-19-4) found some early season rhythm as Letchworth crashed to 87-7. Lamb (2-0-5-2) and last season’s captain Ben Frazer (8-0-18-2) made sure that Harpenden then closed the game out comfortably much to the delight of new captain Lamb.
“It was a great start,” he told the Herts Advertiser. “The boys played really well, the pitch was a little bit interesting first up but we dug through and we batted really well.
“It was nice to see Chris Bennett-Baggs and Will Spencer bat well at the top and then we lost a few wickets early on but we made it back in the field well.”
It was the skipper who finished the job off with a couple of late wickets but the 25-year-old said it was the spin duo of Frazer and Ryan who produced the goods.
“I wasn’t going to bowl today because I’ve been struggling with my back recently but I thought I’d give it a go at the end and see what happened,” explained Lamb.
“It was nice to pick up a couple of wickets even though it was 10 and 11 but the work was done by Ben Frazer as he always does and Jon Ryan who’s bowled really well so far for us this year. He broke his ankle last year and last season he just wasn’t fit enough to bowl as well as he can but this season he looks as if he’s in top form.”
Lamb was pleased with the workout his side got against Letchworth and he is looking for more of the same when they travel to Knebworth Park this weekend
“Letchworth are a good side, they’re always a good side,” Lamb added. “They’re playing in the league below us this year but it’s always good practice. They had a decent bowling attack and some good batsmen at the top order so it was perfect for us.
“This Saturday we’re off to Knebworth, again another side similar to Letchworth. They’re always there or thereabouts in the league below and hopefully it’ll be a good test and hopefully we’ll keep the momentum going from today.”
n In the 2nd XI fixture away from home, new captain Richard Darwin was delighted to see a century opening partnership of 124 between Tony Hooper (59 in 51) and Gregg Cooper (78 in 86).
For those lucky enough to be watching it was rare to see such vintage driving through the covers so early in the season.
Will Bates (68* in 70) then added a third half century as Harpenden raced to 250-4 in their 40 overs.
It was hardly surprising to hear Darwin say: “It was very pleasing as a captain asked to bat first to see the top three all pass 50 and look in excellent touch so early in the season”.
With plenty of runs to play with Harpenden could afford to give most of their bowlers a run out but the pick was veteran seamer Jason Guest (7-1-15-1) who found a perfect line and length.
The Letchworth reply struggled to gain any momentum despite keeping plenty of wickets in hand and the match petered out in to a comprehensive Harpenden win as Letchworth closed at 147-3 in their reply.
Darwin admitted that tougher tests await his team starting with another friendly this week against Knebworth Park. He said: “We enter 2011 with great hopes based on a good squad with some depth and a mix of experience and some promising youngsters. We want to be looking for promotion from Herts Division 2 but we know what a tough league it is to be in.
“There are going to be some difficult calls at selection but that’s fine by me as the skipper.”
n Simon Wade’s 3rd XI never disappoint and they were again involved in the best match of the day.
In another 40 over friendly against local rivals Wheathampstead 1st XI, Harpenden had a disastrous start at 1-2 but battled back with Sam Jones (57) deciding that attack was the best form of defence.
Both skippers were looking for a good workout so Harpenden’s recovery to 190-9 in 40 overs suited everyone and great credit goes to 15-year old Billy Lange-Hewlett (30* at No. 10) who had a good day with both bat and ball.
Wheathampstead then stumbled to 52-4 as Lange-Hewlett (3-0-11-2) threatened a man of the match performance.
However the visitors middle order had their own ideas and at 144-6 the match could have gone either way.
Eventually Wheathampstead held their nerve to win by three wickets at 193-7 in the final over but only after skipper James McEwen took 22 from an over.
Wade was far from downcast as he said: “This was exactly the sort of game that both sides wanted with the result less important than just getting out there and showing what we might be capable of this year.”