Nightmare start undoes Harpenden

Harpenden bought back to earth after seven wicket defeat

HCPL Division One

Harpenden 120

Tring Park 122-3

Tring Park won by seven wickets

Harpenden were bought back down to earth following last week’s massive victory over Aston Rowant, going down to Tring Park by seven wickets at the Common.

The hosts never recovered after losing leading batsmen Nick Lamb and Ben Clements to the first two deliveries of the game and although skipper Ben Frazer and number six Patrick Foster offered some resistance down the order good bowling by Tring and some excellent work in the field strangled the hosts.

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The visitors didn’t have it all their own way losing three wickets on their way to victory but an unbeaten 55 from Kyle Nipper and 41* from Michael Payne gave Tring the victory.

Disaster struck from the off for Harpenden when Lamb was trapped lbw with the first delivery of the game from Simon Stanway.

It didn’t get much better for the home side when in-form Clements was clean bowled with Stanway’s very next ball.

Frazer came in and quickly found his rhythm but when Gregg Cooper edged one to the wicketkeeper without scoring, Harpenden were in real trouble at 12-3.

Frazer and one of last week’s heroes Chris Bennett-Baggs steadied the ship after their shaky start with Frazer in particular taking the game to the visiting bowling attack.

The skipper hit a huge six that threatened traffic heading down the St Albans Road and a four, thanks to a misfield, off consecutive deliveries in the 10th over.

Stanway, however, came back to trouble Harpenden tempting Bennett-Baggs to edge one to Will Jones in the slips.

Frazer had moved to 42 off just 47 balls, which included six fours, when he flashed at a Thomas Brooks delivery gifting former Middlesex and Somerset man Keith Dutch the catch at second slip leaving Harpenden at 52-5.

Foster and youngster David Keenleyside stemmed the loss of wickets until lunch and looked settled after the break.

Keenleyside played a glorious shot off the back foot against spinner Nipper that went for four but the bowler had the last laugh trapping the batsman lbw for 13.

Things were looking desperate for Harpenden and even more so when Foster (27) played a Brooks delivery onto his pads and into his stumps.

Jake Pankhurst lasted three balls before becoming Stanway’s fourth victim and Alex Randall two before falling lbw to Brooks.

Tring must have sensed an early finish but Chris Arnold (10) and Chris Roe had other ideas batting for nearly an hour and a half for 24 runs.

The tailenders’ resistance was broken when Dutch had Roe (14) caught by Paul Atkins brining Harpenden’s innings to a close on 120.

Frazer’s troops needed early wickets if they were to harbour any hopes of a victory and they came out into the field in a positive mood.

That mood was enhanced when they grabbed their first wicket with just one run on the board. Former Harpenden batsman Jones hesitated halfway down the track and Keenleyside’s rapier like throw was collected by Bennett-Baggs who whipped off the bails as Jones tried to dive in.

Things got even better for Harpenden when Frazer fooled Richard Hopwood who was trapped lbw trying to play the sweep shot as Tring wobbled at 17-2.

Dutch and Payne dragged the visitors up to 43 but Frazer threw Lamb into the attack and he gained some revenge for his first ball dismissal with a wicket with his first delivery.

The 23-year-old steamed in from the town centre end and his pace was too much for Dutch (16) who was given out lbw after a long pause from the umpire.

That was as good as it got for the home side though as Payne and Nipper racked up the boundaries. Payne hit five 4s and two 6s in his 41* with Nipper crashing 11 4s in his 55* as Tring cantered home.