Friday, 18 June 2021

Quick-fire century not enough to beat weather

DIVISION 2 champions HARPSDEN lost the toss and were inserted to bat on a dull, chilly

DIVISION 2 champions HARPSDEN lost the toss and were inserted to bat on a dull, chilly day at TAPLOW.

Harpsden made a brilliant start with Hancock and Stevens picking up a wicket apiece, to leave Taplow reeling on 3-2.

Taplow then went on the attack, with Mills in particular flaying the ball to all parts in his innings of 49.

This approach proved dangerous as Taplow fell to 78-6, thanks solely to a devastating spell of bowling from Hancock, who picked up five of the first six wickets.

Taplow then built a partnership through Stay and Heaton as they looked to post a competitive score. Both batsman batted smartly as they reached 148 before Heaton was removed by Wright.

This sparked another mini collapse as first Stevens removed Stay, then the returning Hancock finished off the tail to finish with figures of 7-48 and leaving Harpsden requiring 177 to win.

Harpsden struggled at the start of their innings, losing Wright and Imlay as they fell to 18-2.

This brought Whittaker to the crease to join Bryan as both batsman looked to accelerate the run rate with the threat of rain on the way.

Unfortunately with rain beginning to fall steadily it looked as though the weather was going to be the winner, and just as Bryan was caught at point for 31, the umpires called a halt to proceedings.

With rain not showing any sign of stopping, the captain’s shook hands as Harpsden ended the season as champions with an unbeaten record.

Elsewhere, HURLEY closed their league campaign having been beaten by the weather after posing an impressive 229-8 after 45 overs at GREAT KINGSHILL.

Dave Simoes was unlucky to be two runs short of a well-deserved century as a solid wall of rain began to fall at 3.20pm.

Simoes batted superbly with a typically pugnacious innings as Hurley’s brittle batting once again splintered around him after early runs at a cracking pace were posted by Imran Arshad, with 42, Naeem Akhtar, with 21, and Phil Ridgeway, with 35.

Standing at 207-3 from 38 overs, the returning Varun Sharma edged Nick Hallett behind for 12 and the middle order then disappeared faster than Jeremy Clarkson testing a new Ferrari.

Bhagwani launched his second ball to square leg, and Yasir Gul only survived two balls as Hurley sunk to 208-6.

Ahmed was advised to take his time and immediately dispatched Hallett for successive boundaries only to sky Crangle to the patient gloves of the keeper for 11.

At the fall of the eighth wicket on 229, and gloomier weather the players retreated to tea. No further play was possible and the match was abandoned at 5pm.

In Division 4, HARPSDEN 2nds’ final league game of the season, at home to PINNER 2nds, had much riding on it.

Harpsden were keen to finish with an unbeaten season in their first season in the league whilst Pinner were trying to secure the four points they needed to guarantee the runners-up spot and the chance of promotion.

Pinner won the toss and with rain forecast they decided to put Harpsden into bat.

Pinner got the early breakthrough they wanted as the division’s highest scoring batsman, Harpsden skipper, Sasha Burgess, fell in the first over to an in-swinging yorker.

Justin Bradley and Mark Cooper dug in against some very good Pinner bowling and Harpsden were progressing serenely until with the total on 64, Bradley edged to gully and Barrett took a one-handed catch.

When 64-1 rapidly became 78-6, Harpsden’s dream of an unbeaten season seemed to be disappearing in front of their eyes.

Rod Birkett came in to join Ian Whittaker and they progressed the score towards the 100 mark when Whittaker was bowled by a scorcher from Neelakandan.

This brought the unflappable James Brooks to the crease and despite the problems that Harpsden found itself in, he looked comfortable from ball one.

Brooks and Birkett took the score up to 135 before the latter slapped one to mid wicket which brought 13-year-old Matt Stanley to the crease.

Stanley, with great technique, gave Brooks all the support he needed to not just take Harpsden up to a highly competitive total but in doing so enabled him to bring up his maiden Harpsden half century. Brooks and Stanley’s unbroken stand of 42 was by the far the best ninth-wicket partnership in the division in 2016.

Tom Ham nearly picked up a wicket first ball of the Pinner innings but the ball, looping off the glove, fell just short of Jonnie Howorth in the slips.

Rod Birkett bowled Maher in the fourth over with a slower ball but there was to be no more joy for Harpsden before the rain arrived, washing out the rest of the day’s play.

Pinner achieved their four-point target and Harpsden, to their great delight, and with gratitude to the batting fortitude of Brooks, who made 53 runs and Stanley, who made 12, finished the season unbeaten, which included two draws.

Elsewhere, HURLEY 2nds’ final league match of the season at home to KNOTTY GREEN 2nds was ruined by the weather but not before we saw the emergence of another bright star in the Hurley firmament.

On winning the toss Mike Cole opted to bat first and with regular opener Abdullah Ali running late, Mike Walton and Clive Williams opened the innings.

A testing opening over from Ian Rundle was played out for a maiden by Walton but the left arm swing of Vishal Patel proved too good for Williams who lost his middle stump with only four extras on the scoreboard.

This was the cue for the entry of 14-year-old Ollie Dawkins, the latest recruit from the Hurley Under 15s to make his mark in the senior side.

After a couple of overs to play himself in, Dawkins proceeded to give a master class in batting reminiscent of his father Neil in his heyday.

The youngster had a lucky escape when dropped at slip and survived a couple of confident appeals for a stumping and a catch behind before taking apart the Knotty Green attack.

He shared in a second wicket partnership of 52 with Walton, who scored 17, and a fifth wicket stand of 146 in 19 overs with Abdullah Ali.

In between, Josh Cole came and went, chipping a return catch to Rundle for two and a mix-up led to the run out of Jeff Dawson.

Once Ali joined Dawkins, the pair assaulted the Knotty Green bowling attack with a barrage of boundaries and sixes.

Dawkins went to his 50 with a maximum and reached a century off 95 deliveries.

The emotion of the moment was too much for his proud father, who shed tears of joy as his son acknowledged the deserved applause of everyone at the ground.

The partnership was broken by Jack Patel who had Ali smartly stumped by Pandya for 80.

By the time Dawkins was caught on the mid wicket boundary off Patel for 111, Hurley had reached 250 and the declaration soon followed on 255-9.

After a hasty tea, with rain forecast, Hurley set about the unlikely task of trying to force a victory before the weather intervened.

Dave Pollitt struck in his first over when Andy Capstick tried to heave across the line and lost his middle stump in the process, scoring 13.

Two overs later, the side slumped to 14-2 as Pollitt struck again to dismiss Asish Patel for a duck with a running catch at mid-on by Dawkins.

Sandeep Patel also failed to score, chipping Ross Brown to the welcoming hands of Dawson at short-extra cover.

With light rain starting to fall, Hurley set fields akin to those seen by the West Indies back in the mists of time as they went all out for wickets.

Nick Scott and Vishal Patel managed to survive with 17 and 30 runs respectively until heavy rain forced the players from the field with the visitors on 70-3 after 12 overs.

Hurley finished the season in third position which, subject to ratification, will see them promoted to Division 3.

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