Harpenden Cricket Club
2023 Weekly Update 18
First team finish second, promotion for women’s team
Of course it did. With the league season drawing to a close this weekend, the sun returned and shone gloriously. Reports follow, with the highlights being another win for the first team, who finish the season second in the Premier Division, and promotion for our women’s team, who topped their league. Whilst we all know that cricket is a team game, I do feel that a special mention is owed to first team skipper James Latham. This was his first season at the helm, following the successful Nick Lamb era. He had to deal with considerable personal challenge, and a tricky start to the season, but has led his team to second in the table. Well played James. And promotion for our women’s team is great news. We have seven men’s teams playing on a Saturday. However wonderful it would be if we have several women’s teams playing on a Sunday in years to come. A higher division will bring new challenges for our team in 2024.
On to the reports.
Valiant first team finish second
The first team knew they had to win their final game, and hope that top of the table Potters Bar slipped up in theirs if they were to be crowned champions. We did. They didn’t.
Batting first Harpenden racked up 329 for 6 in their 50 overs, with Latham (78) and Swanson (71) leading the onslaught. In reply, Bishops Stortford subsided to 219 all out, with the main wicket-takers Doyle (4), and Garrett (3). Stortford outclassed by 114 runs.
Meanwhile Potters Bar stumbled past Old Owens - by the barest of margins to coin a phrase - to claim the title. Well played to them – champions for the second year in a row.
Women's team confirmed champions
Our women's team travelled to Abbots Langley on Sunday, needing to win the game to secure our league title. A comfortable victory followed, we scored 235, with two fabulous maiden half centuries for Millie Hitchen (51 not out) & Willa Stanley (57). Hannah Stobbs completed a fantastic first season with 63 not out.
We made short work of bowling them out, all done and dusted in 12 overs. Played 8, Won 8 (2 games lost to the rain).
Harpenden Cricket Club Women: champions of Division 3, and promotion secured
Onto better cricket, fully deserved for our happy, committed & talented group, a very special bunch, the future is bright, the future is Harpy 🕺🏅
Back to Saturday, when the 2nds travelled to Berkhamsted for what was essentially a dead rubber. As such we won the toss and chose to bat first. We got off to a strong start, moving to 47 without loss before a mini collapse saw us slide to 71-3. Opener Jake Pankhurst was still there though, and he and Dan Bradley counterattacked, putting on a classy 103-run partnership before Bradley fell one short of a half-century. Pankhurst was scoring freely now, particularly strong on the drive, and it was a surprise when he fell, caught on the deep square boundary for a brilliant 84. Some late hitting from the lower middle order saw us up to a competitive 239-8 from our 50 overs.
In reply, Will Downes bowled well early on but without luck, passing the edge on numerous occasions. On a pitch increasingly favouring spin, Sam Calladine got the first breakthrough before Pankhurst again took centre stage, taking wickets at regular intervals to reduce Berkhamsted to 115-6 as he picked up 4-30 from his ten overs. Some moderate resistance saw the hosts up to 164-8, still needing 76 to win in a dozen overs with just two wickets left. Downes returned to keep things tight from one end, but we leaked runs from the other as their ninth-wicket stand grew. A wicket from a no-ball and a stumping that wasn’t given frustrated us and gave Berkhamsted more momentum to the point at which they needed two to win off the final ball. A top-edged swipe landed safe and they managed to scramble the runs they needed for a two-wicket win.
We picked up 17 points to secure seventh place. Another season of using more players than we’d wish to - around 30 this time - whilst also only having four bowlers on a number of occasions, scrambling around the part-timers to bowl our overs. That cost us time and again. In a division where almost all other sides were first teams, with more settled sides, we struggled for consistency. But we stayed up and hope for a better run next season.
Thirds top half finish
The 3s travelled to a picturesque Bayford and Hertford ground, in keeping with the rest of the season we lost a 100 run toss on an inexplicably wet pitch - “we have covers, we just didn’t put them on”. Thanks.
On a wet pudding we were quickly in the mire at 30/4 before a brilliant partnership of 104 between Matt Ball and Ben Yurkwich. Ben eventually got out for a really classy 75 before the customary collapse meant we ended on 164, a score that felt decent but could have been better.
At that point, however, the sun seemed to belatedly remember it was allowed to come out for cricket and, as Incy Wincey will attest, it dried up all the rain and the pitch flattened out completely meaning we were at least 50 short, losing eventually by 5 wickets.
Mohammad Umar bowled excellently again (10 overs, 1 for 31) and Michael Smith took our final wicket of the season, bowling off spin, with one that clipped off stump after turning so much that Murali would have been proud of it.
We finished 4th, which was probably about right, but with a bit more luck with the toss we could definitely have pushed for promotion.
Thanks to all the players who have turned out this season and especially to Chris Marsden who did a magnificent job umpiring almost every game. Cheers.
Fourths finish fourth
The 4s rounded off their campaign against relegation haunted Boxmoor 2s. Skipper Mike Hughes won the toss (yet again) and elected to field. Joe Gill and Rowley Wing bowled nicely without luck so it was down to Player of the Season Alex Card (2-28) and the skipper (2-52) to make inroads and leave the oppo at 141-4. JT returned for a second spell and helped to mop up the lower order (4-31) with Belal Hussain (1-25) as Boxmoor were bowled out for 182.
In reply, Mike Voight looked great before flailing at a wide one for 10. Contributions came from Mike Hughes (11), Simon Caunce (19), Ollie Jones (28) and Belal (22) but we were struggling a little at 101-6 and behind the rate. Despite some lusty late order hitting from Joe Gill and Alex Card, we finished some way short on 145-8. But the 15 points we accrued took us up to a highly respectable fourth in the table and a very satisfactory season. Much respect to Mike Hughes for leading the team with such wisdom, grace and considerable skill with bat and ball. Time to rest weary limbs.
Fifth team season ends in disappointment
Our fifth team took the short trip to OAs for our final game of the season. The trip was a bit longer and more complicated due to the closure of the road between Harpenden and St Albans and the start had to be delayed. We won the toss and chose to bowl.
Chris Karunaratne and Arjan Saini opened up and a tight first 10 overs had them 37-2, unfortunately our captain dropped a sharp slip chance from their best batter off Chris and he went on to make 50.
They were looking good at 85-2 but a superb spell from Sidd Sathwara with 4-29 from his 8 and 2-7 from Toby Sutherland meant we bowled them out for 151 in 35 overs.
Henry and Sidd opened up and we lost Henry early and then Sidd retired hurt with cramp. George Chadney and Toby took us on to 59 at the halfway point. Despite the loss of both of their wickets around drinks we kept ourselves in the game. A mature 19 from Ben Sutherland and the return of Sidd who finished 35* kept us close. Unfortunately they had a couple of good overs at the end which meant we finished 141-9
Overall some disappointing results in the last few weeks, but some excellent performances particularly from some of our younger players who will be better next year for the experience they’ve gained this year. Have a great off season everyone and look forward to seeing you in January for winter nets and then back outside in April.
Bailey bows out as sixth team skipper
The sixth team were at home vs St Albans 5s. Captain Bailey’s last match as captain. He obviously lost the toss, as we only had 10 players they decided to bat.
They started fast but Nick Townend came on and we agreed we’d get them to hit to the skipper on the boundary…. A plan that worked twice. They got 181 all out but - not bad with 10 players.
Jawahar Nalluri with 2 wickets, Nick with 3 wickets and wait for it ….. Bailey with 2 wickets on his bowling league debut!! The chase stuttered behind the rate until Paul Streeton arrived and Ben Stoked it….82 not out, well done 👍.
We fell short at 166 for 8. But a fab effort all round. Skipper Richard Bailey concluded by thanking all those that have supported him over the last few years. Meanwhile, the Club thanks Richard for all the time he has given in his role as skipper. Thanks Richard.
Wizards find perfect blend of youth and experience….
The Wizards were at home on the upper pitch of the Park to Kings Langley 4’s for the last game of the season. The team was under the experienced charge of veteran Paul Cramer and was the usual blend of some youth, ‘dads’ and a few experienced players. We batted first and lost an early wicket but recovered to 40 for 1 and 65 for 2 but then contrived to lose 4 wickets quickly mainly through suicidal run outs to become 74 for 6.
Another veteran Phil Waters (not quite as veteran as Paul but pretty close!) joined under 13 opener Harry Edward who had patiently stayed at one end watching all this happen. The pair added 54 before Phil chose to hit a long hop straight to mid-wicket for his 29 and the score was on 128 for 7. Our innings finally reached 161 all out on the last ball of the innings with useful contributions too from Kyle Kean 21 and Sumit Bhatia 15. But we must highlight the knock of Harry who was out in the 39th over for his 41 literally holding the innings together.
In reply, Kings Langley lost 3 early wickets but a fourth wicket partnership of 68 brought them back in contention. Then another flurry of wickets saw them at 95 for 7 and it all looked hopeful for the Wizards. Kings Langley had reserved some of their old hands to bat down the order and they steadied the ship bringing home a victory for them 9 down on the last ball of the 39th over. An extremely close and competitive game where both captains had contrived to give nearly everyone a bat and a bowl and a result by the closest of margins. Well done both teams! Sri Nalluri, Sumit Bhatia and Paul Cramer each took 2 wickets and special mention to Sri for his 3 catches in the covers.
A good first season for the Wizards. Always played in the right spirit with everyone being involved in the game. Special mention to Tim Rogerson and Bratin Roy who although weren’t playing in this match have undertaken much of the on field organisation of the team for most of the season.
Hasta Luego 🇪🇸
That's it for our weekly reports, although don't you worry, we will have plenty of news for you in the coming months. Thank you to all players who have contributed match reports with the very minimum of nagging from me. They have made my role very easy.
As Nick Ahad wrote in the Yorkshire Post some years ago:
This is the first of many Mondays where we will wake up and remember that it is not five more sleeps until we take to the cricket field again. It is, we realise with a wrenching gut, many, many more
Well done, and thank you, to all who have represented Harpenden Cricket Club this season, whether as player, official, ground staff, volunteer, coach, bar staff, scorer, umpire or supporter.
David Josephs (Communications Director)