Radlett have Lamb on the rack

Radlett record first win of the season after beating Harpenden in local derby

HCPL Division One

Radlett 240-8 Harpenden 139

Radlett won by 101 runs

IF the US economy has recently been in crisis then the Harpenden batting was equally so on Saturday against Radlett and what’s a few trillion dollars between local rivals?

Chasing a more than useful target of 240-8, Harpenden were well placed to make a deal as 35 was posted for the first wicket. Aussie opener Ricky Damiano (25) was then caught and bowled by Shane Burger (17.5-6-37-2) and at that stage Radlett quickly introduced spinner Daniel Foster (21-12-23-7).

On a pitch that wouldn’t acquire many friends on Facebook, Harpenden got stuck in a downward spiral that they couldn’t bail themselves out of as eight wickets then fell for just 65.

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Damiano’s opening partner Gregg Cooper (40) top scored but nobody in the Harpenden middle order made double figures until Jon Ryan (17) came in at No.10 to scrape a few late runs. Harpenden were eventually dismissed for 139 in a torturous 61.5 overs featuring spin of which Graeme Swann might have approved.

Ben Frazer, speaking for Lamb who is on holiday, said: “We let ourselves down following a good result last week. I think that we definitely got the worst of the conditions but we won’t be complaining about that as we won the toss and chose to have a bowl. We had Radlett 170-7 and should have bowled them out for under 200 but we didn’t finish the job. We then had a terrible batting session before tea which turned the game and the ball was starting to spit and it was always going to be a difficult task to bat out a draw.”

With no decisions or appeals to be withdrawn over the tea interval thus allowing any Harpenden batsman to resume their innings, Foster was quick to apply the coup de grace giving Radlett a first league win of the season whilst Harpenden remain in fifth place in the HCPL table. In the next month Harpenden face Oxford, Henley and Tring Park as the three teams currently directly above them in the table in a tough run of matches that will shape the season.

Frazer’s view: “Radlett fully deserved this game as they showed a huge desire to win and a hunger which hopefully our players noticed as we have some big matches left and we’ll need to raise our efforts.

“We know what Nick (Lamb) has set us as a target and if we are to achieve that then there’s a lot of hard work to be done. With the way the league is going this year we are getting to a crucial stage where we can either challenge at the top or slip towards the bottom half but there’s no reason for us to fear anyone.”

Frazer (26-4-85-3) himself suffered a rare failure with the bat but produced some good spin in harness with Ryan (23-1-96-3) but neither was able to prevent Heath Paynter (53) from making a decisive half century at No. 9 in the order to go with the one compiled by opener Rob Clements (50) earlier in the day. Harpenden will be looking for a better rate of exchange this week.

Harpenden II were put to the sword by an Abbots Langley batting side who, at one stage, must have thought a score around 300 might be possible but the loss of some key wickets pegged them back to 230-6 in their 53 overs. Opening seamer Joe Peck (21-1-77-2) and captain and left-arm spinner Richard Darwin (22-2-88-3) put in a useful shift with the ball and having lost the toss it was felt that the run chase would make for an exciting second innings. The Harpenden openers Ben Cawood and David Whiteley started well with an opening stand of 63 but a collapse followed to 80-5 not helped by a back injury to Ed Brown that effectively ruled him out of the match. It was left to Darwin (43* at No.7) to club some hefty runs late in the order to gain some vital batting points.

Like Lamb and Frazer, Darwin knows the importance of the next few weeks: “After a difficult start we did well to limit Langley to 230. We had to work hard in the field as we pretty much had only 10 men because of Ed’s injury. We again lost wickets quickly when there was a need to consolidate and I’d like to see us show a bit of composure and pace our innings better if we are to get the results we need. It looks like four from five to be relegated and we’re in that group so there are some huge games coming up and we need to find a few wins to secure our place in this division. I’m confident we can do that it if we can build some real partnerships when we are batting.”

Harpenden III look to be doomed to relegation from Division Three after an enjoyable stint punching well above their weight.

A loss of playing staff and some availability issues have led to it being difficult for the IIIs to put out a side as competitive as in the past but the team spirit engendered by captain Simon Wade has stayed strong and almost caused an upset against Hatfield CC.

Harpenden posted a below par 152 all out in 50.4 overs as Wade (48) led courageously from the front before perishing to an injudicious drive at some juicy off-spin from a change bowler. Another 30 or so runs might have made such a difference. Left-arm spinner Alex Randall (20-3-72-5) then caused a real fright as he put pressure on the batsmen with a close-in field but as so often this season Harpenden had left themselves too much to do in a battle of two lowly sides.

Harpenden IV lost to King’s Langley II by seven wickets despite skipper Mike Hughes (71) and David Fraser (44) adding some useful runs but Harpenden V tasted victory by 16 runs against Ware II thanks to Joel Stewart (6.2-2-32-4) and Adam Roche (8-3-10-3). Harpenden VI lost to Botany Bay IV by nine wickets.