Lamb ton denies Welwyn

Captain’s innings earns Harpenden a draw

HCPL Division One

Welwyn GC 306-7dec

Harpenden 254-8

Match drawn

A THRILLING and fiercely contested local derby ended with the bragging rights shared as Harpenden captain Nick Lamb hit a century to deny Welwyn GC victory.

Lamb returned to frustrate his former employers with a diligent 119 after Welwyn had declared with 306 on the board looking to force victory.

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The captain’s score provided the backbone of Harpenden’s innings but the contributions of Ricky Damiano and Ben Frazer were just as vital and at one point looked to have put the visitors in with a decent shout of stealing an unlikely victory.

It was a far cry from the morning session when Welwyn opener Jamie Hewitt brutally set about demolishing the Harpenden bowling attack with his hard-hitting stroke play.

The county man looked in imperious form as he gorged on far too many indifferent deliveries from the visitors giving Welwyn all the early momentum.

Not even the dismissal of Louis Champion (21), caught by Chris Warn down the leg side from Lamb’s first delivery halted the Welwyn charge as Matt Hill came in and followed in Hewitt’s foot steps.

The pair put on 108 for the second wicket before Jon Ryan trapped Hill lbw for a fast-paced 61.

Former Derbyshire and Leicestershire man Nick Walker joined Hewitt at the crease as the onslaught continued with Welwyn homing in on maximum batting points.

Harpenden were guilty of dropping Hewitt twice off the bowling off Ryan with the batsman in the seventies. It proved costly as the ex-Middlesex man bought up his first hundred of the season and with Walker chalking up 68 before his dismissal by Frazer, trapped lbw, the outlook appeared as grim as the slate coloured clouds that swirled overhead.

Frazer bought an end to Hewitt’s innings bowling the opener for 108 while some good fielding late on saw Joe Peck pick up three wickets including the dismissal of Andrew Nolan (17) thanks to a superb one-handed catch above his head from wicketkeeper Warn.

Ollie Tuck’s diving catch to remove Alex Chalker (10) off the bowling of Peck bought the declaration with Harpenden given 59 overs in which to knock off the daunting target.

Ricky Damiano, fresh from his maiden HCPL century last week, started off in bullish mood keeping up with the run rate but just as it looked like they were building some momentum of their own, Chris Bennett-Baggs (8) nicked one behind and Damiano (32) was strangled down the leg side to leave Harpenden at 49-2.

This bought Lamb and Frazer to the crease and the former Welwyn men set about rebuilding the innings. The duo played themselves in early on before Lamb cut loose and upped the ante as the teams left the field for tea with Harpenden on 158-2 and in with a shout of victory.

Those hopes were dealt a severe blow when Frazer (48) thrashed Chris Grant straight at Aaron Laraman first ball after the break to bring an end to the 109-run third wicket stand.

Grant proved to be a thorn in Harpenden’s side extinguishing any hope they had of victory by snaring the wickets of Warn (14), Ed Washington (5) and Simon White (4) all the while Lamb plugging away untroubled at the other end.

When Tuck (9) mistimed a shot to present Walker with an easy caught and bowled the visitors looked in serious trouble but Ryan (13*) came to the rescue with a resolute innings.

The left-arm spinner played the perfect foil for Lamb, who despite spending a long time in the nervous nineties, bought up his century with a comfortable two, a landmark which seemed to take any wind that had gathered in Welwyn’s sails away.

With Champion introduced into the attack to try and give Harpenden something different to deal with Lamb cashed in hammering the ball all around the park.

The captain’s innings came to an end looking for another boundary, caught by Hill for an excellent 119, leaving number 10 Chris Roe (0*) just one ball to see off which he did with ease as Harpenden collected a valuable 10 points.

With two games of the HCPL Division One campaign gone Harpenden remain unbeaten and they will need to display the resolve they showed during this contest when they take on early season leaders Banbury at The Common on Saturday.