Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Birkett leads fightback to secure title

A SEASON’S best bowling performance from HURLEY gave Division 2 leaders HARPSDEN the fright of

A SEASON’S best bowling performance from HURLEY gave Division 2 leaders HARPSDEN the fright of their lives but their batsmen failed to capitalise on their good work in the field.

Hurley won the toss and inserted Harpsden and took the early wicket of Watson with a yorker from Naeem Akhtar for a duck.

Riaz bowled well throughout, mixing pace with accuracy, which Harpsden failed to cope with.

His first victim was Will Stevens, who was caught by Ali in the gully for five, before bowling captain Ben Hancock for 23 and dispatching Burgess for eight and Wright for four with off-cutters.

Andy Bryan coming in at five offered stability in the middle order and did well for his 33 runs, which proved to be the highest scorer in the match.

Akhtar was then brought back into the attack, bowling quick and straight, and finished with 5-29 from 10 overs as Harpsden went from 120-6 to 125 all out in 28 overs.

Harpsden needed a victory to secure the league title but they needed to bowl well as Hurley had more than 70 overs to score the required 126 to win.

Tom Hancock and Johnny Wright were impressive in their opening spells, sending both openers back to the clubhouse without troubling the scorers.

Bhagwani skied an injudicious pull which was taken and Simoes went after tickling one down the legside.

Then captain Akhtar clipped to square leg and at 35-5 at tea, Harpsden were in charge.

By now Rod Birkett joined the attack and, making the most of the movement and variable bounce from the pitch, he returned figures of 5-15 with off-cutters, aided by some great catching, notably by Ben Watson and Johnny Wright.

Scott Taylor survived the Harpsden onslaught with 18 runs and his partnership with Dawson, who scored 15, made Harpsden sweat but the returning Wright picked up the final wicket.

In Division 4, HURLEY 2nds’ promotion hopes suffered a blow as they lost to THE LEE 2nds.

Mike Cole opted to bat first, despite the overcast conditions and a strange looking wicket, and Hurley’s opening pair of Abdullah Ali and Clive Williams struggled to get the ball away, with only 11 runs coming from the first six overs. Their partnership had reached 53 in the 16 over when Ali edged Josh Porter to the keeper for 26.

Amir Ali was then dropped by the keeper off the next delivery, a mistake which proved costly as Ali went on to make 107, his maiden century.

As the bowlers tired Ali and Williams amassed 155 for the second wicket in only 21 overs with Ali doing most of the damage, reaching his century from 63 deliveries before falling to Sharman for 197 with the score at 208-2.

As Hurley pushed for quick runs Williams and Josh Cole were both stumped off Gus Knott and Mike Cole failed to score before being adjudged leg-before to Sharman. Henry Graham scored a quick-fire 25 from nine deliveries to take Hurley to a declaration on 267-6 from 45 overs.

The Lee’s reply also got off to a slow start, losing Wideson for a duck in the first over to a rearing Dawkins delivery that ballooned off the glove to Cole in the gully.

Dawkins picked up his second wicket with the score on 15 when Knott was out for two after loitering outside his crease and Mike Walton threw down the stumps for stumping.

Father and son Mike and Ben Harris then led a recovery with a partnership of 102 for the third wicket. The former was dropped early in his innings, a mistake which ultimately proved to be the pivotal point in the match.

The wicket of his son for 36, bowled by Ali, was followed by two wickets for Nigel Haines, which gave Hurley renewed hope.

They continued to set attacking fields in the quest for wickets, enticing the batsmen to go for the target, which they did with gusto.

Knott, who hit 48, and Harris, who finished with 133 not out, both rode their luck, with edges and mishits flying everywhere and a couple of difficult chances going down. Mike Cole brought himself back in a final effort to try and rescue the match for Hurley but by the time he had Knott well caught by Henry Graham only 18 more runs were required from 20 deliveries.

Josh Porter (18*) finished the match with a six over extra cover to give The Lee only their second victory of the season.

In Division 4, HARPSDEN 2nds picked up maximum points after AMERSHAM HILL 2nds conceded.

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