Saturday, 12 June 2021

Harpsden have the edge in friendly encounter

HARPSDEN beat FIDDLERS by five wickets and with 10 balls to spare in a tight 40 over friendly match on Sunday.

Visitors Fiddlers won the toss and chose to bat first on a flat looking track that had not been affected by Saturday’s rain.

Fiddlers openers Hewitt (45) and McClellan (45) were steady against the Harpsden opening left arm pairing of Stef Franklin and Ed Birkett, putting away the loose balls for four but struggling to rotate the strike.

At 79 without loss at the halfway stage acceleration was needed, although this proved difficult against the medium pace of Rod Birkett (2-25) and the accuracy of Max Martin. Rod Birkett picked up both openers for 45, one caught by each of his sons Adam and Ed. Hewitt’s shot of the day was a straight six over long-on over the road and into the cemetery.

The required acceleration never came as Tom Mellor (30), Hamza Din (27), and Thompson (21 not out) all got starts without playing the defining innings. The probing leg spin of Gulfraz and the pace of James Aston at the death ensured the visitors finished on 186-4 from their 40 overs.

The Harpsden innings got off to the worst possible start as the in-form Adam Birkett and Justin Bradley were both dismissed early on, Birkett falling caught behind to a good delivery from Ring.

Youngster Matt Stanley (23) and Stef Franklin (44) set about rebuilding the innings as Stanley rotated the strike and Franklin dealt mostly in boundaries, including an effortless flicked six over mid-wicket up the hill.

At 66-2 after 16 overs the game was tightly poised, with Harpsden six runs ahead of the Fiddlers at the same stage but having lost two wickets more.

The introduction of Mellor (3-40) changed the game as he took the wickets of Stanley, Franklin and newcomer James Moore, who batted well for his 18 — this left Harpsden 92-5 after 23 overs, needing a further 94 runs to win in the remaining 17 overs.

Spin bowlers Tom Mellor and Mike Salmon kept the new Harpsden batsmen Jon Stanley and Ed Birkett quiet for a few overs, with Stanley the aggressor. At 107-5 from 28 overs the rate had climbed to 80 required from 72 balls.

At this point both Stanley and particularly Birkett chose their moment to take the attack to the bowlers, and despite some tight bowling at the end from Thompson, Harpsden got over the line with 10 balls to spare.

The sixth wicket partnership ended unbeaten on 98 runs, with Jon Stanley 36 not out and Ed Birkett 61 not out including three sixes.

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