Thursday, 17 August 2017

Harpsden slip to their first league defeat of season

A STRONG all-round performance from HARPSDEN last Saturday saw them extend their unbeaten run in Division 1 with victory at home to LITTLEWICK GREEN.

Captain Johnny Wright, making his home debut as skipper, won the toss and chose to bowl on a pitch which appeared to offer a little something for both sides. His decision was immediately vindicated through top opening spells from Harpsden openers Hancock and Stevens, who bowled a fearsome spell giving little away, with real pace ferocity.

It was Hancock who struck first, bowling Littlewick opener Gill with a full, swinging delivery before having Neale, the target of a particularly vicious spell of short pitched bowling from Stevens in the previous over, caught behind.

Harpsden continued to bowl tightly and forced the Littlewick batsmen into taking a few risks in order to raise the scoring rate. This led to the next wicket, a run out from a direct hit by Hand at deep backward square leg.

Bevan bowled Hurley and Littlewick were on the ropes at 23-4. Some lusty hitting from Maskell changed the face of the game before he was bowled by Franklin for a rapid 34.

At this point it seemed as though Littlewick may have capitulated, were it not for a gritty innings by Dries, accumulating a steady 40 not out, shepherding the lower order through a significant number of overs with a mixture of selective stroke play and a solid defence.

Dries could only watch from the other end as the Harpsden bowlers continued their mission to ensure he ran out of partners, Heilbron and a returning Hancock taking two wickets apiece in order to reduce Littlewick to a below par 134 all out, Hancock being the pick of the Harpsden bowlers with figures of 14 overs, four maidens, 30 runs for four wickets.

The Harpsden innings got off to a sedate start with openers Watson and Hand taking their time in the face of an accurate, fast spell by towering opener Gill and his equally lofty partner Brockwell.

The pair tied down the Harpsden openers with miserly efficiency, with seven out of the first 10 overs being maidens. Watson eventually began to break loose, using the bowler’s height to his advantage in getting under the bounce of the ball to send it to the boundary with a series of well-timed pull shots.

This partnership came to an end when Watson misjudged a seaming ball from Gill, only to shoulder arms and watch it cannon into his off stump. Stevens arrived at the crease and went about his business with a ruthless efficiency, combining a number of well-timed clips on the leg side with good running between the wickets from both batsman to break the back of the run chase.

By the time Stevens departed for a well crafted 38 the remaining Harpsden batsmen had only to nudge a few more singles to close the game out.

The ever-present Hand, whose accumulation had been going under the radar until the dying embers of the chase, failed to carry his bat as he snicked behind to Maskell with only five runs left on the board. This small wobble did not deter the incoming middle order as the last ball of the game saw Hurley be clipped to the boundary by new batsman Franklin. HARPSDEN 2nds’ unbeaten start to their Division 3 season was brought to an abrupt halt at WINCHMORE HILL.

The hosts won the toss and opted to bowl first on a pitch that had been covered with a protective sheet. It was quickly clear why they chose to bowl as Ed Andrews, after a four through mid-wicket was out lbw to a ball that he played back to, but got no more than a few inches off the ground.

Ollie Heath and Mark Cooper went about the process of re-building but with movement and variable bounce, good application was required. Ollie Heath was caught at mid-on with the score on 34 and he was followed by Tom Mitchell who didn’t get on top of one and it spooned up to cover. Ed Birkett left one that came back to hit the top of off.

Alfred Cary joined Cooper and they batted sensibly, putting on 46 for the fifth wicket, with Cary being particularly destructive on anything over-pitched. However, an over-pitched ball brought his demise as he didn’t go through with one that looked as if it stopped in the surface and he was caught at mid-off. From 84-4 to 101 all out as as bad a batting collapse as the Harpsden 2nds have seen all season. Cooper was eight out for a patient 36, but 101 was never going to be enough as the sun was working its magic to make batting more comfortable.

Tom Ham clean bowled Turner in the second over of the Winchmore Hill response and at 4-1 Harpsden dared to hope that the impossible might be possible. However, several lbws were not given, some difficult catches were put down and Dickson showed an aggressive intent that was not visible with the Harpsden batsmen as Winchmore Hill ran out as comfortable winners.

HARPSDEN 2nds

E Andrews, lbw, b Ali

4

M Cooper, b Pearce

36

O Heath, c Slade, b Wilkins

14

T Mitchell, c Massey, b Wilkins

2

E Birkett, b Ali

0

A Cary, c Massey, b Wilkins

28

M Stanley, b Pearce

2

S Gulfraz, b Pearce

0

J Harris, b Pearce

2

T Ham, not out

1

R Birkett, b Clarke

1

Extras

11

TOTAL

101

WINCHMORE HILL

S Bonham, lbw, b Mitchell

27

R Turner, b Ham

0

M Dickson, not out

63

A Massey, not out

6

Extras

9

TOTAL (2 wkts)

105

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