WGC win last over thriller against Harpenden to move to top of league

Owais Shah in action for Welwyn Garden City. Picture: WGCCC

Owais Shah in action for Welwyn Garden City (file picture). - Credit: WGCCC

Welwyn drew on all their vast experience on Saturday at Harpenden Common, when they won a last over thriller, beating the home side by three wickets, to move to the top of the Saracens Herts Premier League Table.

With Radlett beating Potters Bar, WGC were able to leapfrog Bar to the top spot, but only 18 points separate WGC and seventh place Hertford.

With Harpenden’s skipper Nick Lamb wanting to bat first, and WGC’s Dan Blacktopp wanting to field first, the toss was a formality that Blacktopp won and duly asked Harpenden to have first use of a green looking wicket. Blacktopp was hoping to replicate their three previous wins of chasing down a total.

Starting with three opening maidens, the returning Conor Emerton produced a fiery spell of fast bowling having both openers, Nick Lamb and James Latham dropped, before he had Latham (16) caught by Blacktopp with the fourth ball of his fifth over, and with his fifth ball he clattered into Arthur Garrett’s stumps for a first ball duck.

When Ed Tucker had Nick Lamb caught by Blacktopp for 11, Harpenden were 31-3 after 14 overs and in a spot of trouble. Danyaal Khalid and Andrew Neal repaired the damage, batting well, taking Harpenden to 118 after 34 overs at the lunchbreak.


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As so often happens, their partnership of 98 was broken straight after lunch, when Alex Chalker induced a false shot from Khalid, to have him caught by Nolan for a 78 ball 39.

Galloway gave Chalker his second wicket soon after, caught by Whitton for 7. Having passed his previous highest score of 69, Andrew Neal got to his maiden century (102), and with the score on 190-5, and 11 overs remaining, a large score was on the cards.

Harpenden's Andrew Neal

Harpenden's Andrew Neal (file picture). - Credit: Karyn Haddon

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But the ball after reaching his hundred was a perfect Tom Whitton yorker, ending Neal’s 130 ball stay at the crease, and the Harpenden innings then faltered. Those last 11 overs only produced a further 31 runs mainly due to Pankhurst’s 31 not out, as Chalker had Meacock (1) caught by Blacktopp, Sivarajah leg before 10, and combined with Whitton to run out William Downes for 1, leaving Harpenden on what looked like a below par score of 221-9 off their 60 overs.

Chalker (4-52), Emerton (2-60), Tucker (1-23) and Whitton (1-28) were the WGC wicket takers in an impressive bowling display.

With Harpenden asking WGC to chase only one more run that Hoddesdon had asked them to chase in their last game, WGC got off to an equally bad start.

Their 28-2 against Hoddesdon became 20-3 after 11 overs against Harpenden.

Accurate opening spells by Tom Atkinson and William Downes made runs hard to come by. Atkinson had Champion caught by a diving Downes for 6 and Chalker bowled for 4, and in between these two wickets Downes had Mo Rizvi caught behind for 8.

Once again it was Owais Shah and Dan Blacktopp who looked to get WGC out of trouble. Their 86 run partnership was ended when a slightly out of rhythm Shah was caught by Atkinson on the boundary off Garrett for 22.

When both Nolan and Van der Westhuizen were unluckily given out LBW by Umpire Wijesuriya in the same Ashley Sivarajah over, Welwyn were 134-6, needing 88 to win and the game looked to be swinging towards Harpenden.

Having put on 45 to win the game against Hoddesdon, Blacktopp and Ed Tucker put on 41, to take WGC to within 46 runs of victory, before Blacktopp was bowled by Sivarajah for a commanding 92 off 87 balls, including 15 x 4’s.

Having broken Harpenden’s hearts last year, Conor Emerton (20*) did so once again as he shared a match winning 8th wicket 50 run partnership off 55 balls in 38 pulsating minutes with Ed Tucker to see WGC home with two balls to spare. Keeping a cool head under intense pressure, Ed Tucker was named​​​ “LS Fabrications Man of the Match” for his 47 not out, and accurate bowling.

Having continued their steady climb up the table to top spot, WGC have six teams close behind, and they will need a good performance against bottom placed Reed, at Digswell Park next Saturday, with Reed looking for their first win of the season.

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