Whiteley’s men blow away Park

Howard and Roe do the damage for Harpenden

SHL Division Two

Knebworth Park II 103

Harpenden II 104-0

Harpenden II won by 10 wickets

Harpenden II are on a roll as they brushed aside the challenge of Herts. League Second Division leaders Knebworth Park 2nd XI on Saturday to record a third successive win.

It was a surprise to arrive at the Knebworth ground to find a 1st XI match in progress with the second pitch playing surface looking perhaps under-prepared and potentially very awkward. Due to the very hot weather grass had been left on the square to avoid any worries of pitches breaking up but captain David Whiteley was not unhappy to lose the toss and leave the home side to dictate the course of the match. Knebworth chose to bat instead of perhaps exposing their opponents to any risk of the conditions but Adam Turner (39 in 36 balls) struck some early boundaries and Harpenden lost seamer Chris Roe to an apparent injury in just the second over. All of this was of concern as was Knebworth’s riotous progress in reaching 68-2 in a little over 10 overs.

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However, there are few better than Mike Howard (14-4-35-4) in knowing how to make good use of a wildly swinging cricket ball and his villainous in-duckers started to strike pads like a heavy metal drummer. Thanks to three LBW shouts and some good catching Knebworth were rocked to 100-5 and then swiftly plummeted to 103 all out in 30 overs. In all this chaos the pitch remained dry, true and blameless. Roe (11-4-28-5) had shaken off his shoulder trouble by this time and he simply blew away the tail. It had been an extraordinary turn around with Roe clean bowling numbers 8, 10 and jack in the order to finish things off.

In the reply, which spanned the tea interval, openers Tony Hooper (47* in 59) and Sam Wiese (57* in 62) breezed past the total with complete authority for a 10 wicket win. This week Welwyn Garden City 2nd XI travel to The Common with just 25 points covering the top 6 sides and Harpenden within striking distance of the top.

Laurence Jones (124* in 107 balls) is a tremendously destructive batsman as sides have found to their cost over recent seasons. Sometimes vulnerable early in his innings like any opener, once settled and with his eye in, an earnest Jones can make a mockery of any target. Waltham Cross had set a target of 243-8 in 53 overs and may have felt that such was at least par if not better if they could take some early wickets. Rohan Pancharatnam (15-2-52-3) was the pick of the bowling but Harpenden 3rd XI have had a rocky last few weeks with the bat. Jones changed all of this with an electric century containing 94 runs in boundaries accompanied by the ever reliable Mark Fettes (72* in 90). A 210 run unbroken partnership for the 3rd wicket was a fantastic effort and Simon Wade was happy to talk about Jones afterwards: “It was great to get back to winning ways and to keep Waltham to 243 was a very respectable effort on a high scoring ground. To then chase this down for the loss of just 2 wickets was particularly satisfying given that it has been the batting which has been our Achilles’ heel. Laurie’s innings was outstanding as it was controlled from start to finish and I don’t recall him playing one rash shot. Fettesy also never looked like getting out”.

Harpenden IV were hoping that the other Jones boy, Sam (75), would help them overtake London Colney II’s 225-6 in 53 overs but a loss of wickets at crucial times robbed his team of the momentum to get them over the line. Terry McGrath (32) helped the chase along but Colney opened up an end such that Steve Glasgow (31*) was forced to help block out for the draw with last man and young colt Billy Lange-Hewlett at 192-9 wickets in 47 overs.

Similarly Harpenden V’s batting was not enough as Andrew Keens (58) top scored with a half century but only a total of 203-9 was set which Stevenage IV were able to overhaul with three wickets in hand at 206-7 in 41.2 overs. Harpenden VI were also caught short as they lost to Watford Town III by 10 wickets having been dismissed for 96.