Dragons Win by 3 Wickets.
In a departure from previous years it was agreed to support Harpenden Cricket Club’s 150th anniversary celebrations with a match in their cricket week. Harpenden is obviously an integral part of the Dragons history and is key to its future. A strong HCC bodes well for the Tour and with recent changes in Dragons committee the close bond should continue to flourish. We’re indebted to ‘The Duke’ Bawden for so much and it spoke volumes of the fondness and respect for The Dragons and their Harpenden connections, that so many made the effort to make a pre-match lunch that Peter so kindly sponsored. It was great to be in the pavilion on The Common with such a buzz with old and new friends catching up, telling stories, attempting the ‘maths test’ from Dr Mike Arnold (won by Nick Churchman) and draining a few bottles.
Harpenden cricket is in great shape; the 1st XI in the top division they can compete in and consistently putting six, sometimes seven sides out to play league cricket each Saturday. Many enjoyed the brilliant and successful run chase by Harpenden against the MCC the evening previous to The Dragons arrival and it was fantastic to see homegrown talent secure the victory on this occasion. Harpenden were, no doubt, in confident mood heading into the Twenty20 clash with The Dragons and duly won the toss and decided to bat.
The game started a little late as the perils of travel round the M25 and Bawden’s hospitality challenged the timekeepers. Dragons’ generosity was extended by Berwyn Petrie as he donated 4 overthrows to HCC 1st XI opening bat Gregg Cooper off the first ball of the game. Cooper was out for that solitary 5 in the first over being the victim of a deflected run out by the bowler as he strayed out of his ground at the non-striker’s end. However, 14 off the first over set a worrying run rate and when Sam Boyns effectively retired injured after one over the skipper was looking round for new bowling options. Harpenden’s hard hitting, hot-dog loving, 3rd XI captain Reeves was playing in his normal flamboyant style and made 84 from 53 balls with veryun-Dragons like fielding display allowing a number of the batsmen more time in the middle. But a lack of any real fireworks in the middle order and a couple of run-outs saw Harpenden post a modest 166-5 from their 20 overs. On a notoriously fast-scoring ground, Charlie Farrant’s four overs for 21 was very respectable.
Simon Arnold opened up with Jamie Churchman in reply and the former hit five 4s in the first two overs to get The Dragons momentum going. You learn very quickly that Dragons cricket rarely remains stable for long and so 27 for 0 off 3 overs soon became 34 for 3 in the 5th. Tim Golds crafted 29 as The Dragons stumbled along to 91-6 after 11 overs. This brought together the ‘Mitchell Johnsons’. Berwyn Petrie is currently sporting a dark handlebar, lip-warmer much like the foul-mouthed, left-arm quick who has destroyed England all winter. Talking of foul-mouthed, (once) quick left-armers, Ben Mahoney came in at number 8. Dragons is all about close friendships and these two Highgate-based buddies have enjoyed many good times. A partnership of 71 developed with Mahoney very much enjoying three maximums in one over served up by first-teamer Blacktopp. Young Jack Doyle finished with 3 for 23 off his 4 overs and is definitely one to watch at Harpenden with the conclusion of his spell leading the match into the final over with 3 runs required and 3 wickets remaining. Mahoney reached an excellent 50* off the first delivery with a single and then the captain scratched around to nudge the winning runs with just two balls to go. A good game, played in great spirit and at a really fantastic cricket club. Many thanks to Harpenden for their support and hospitality of The Dragons over the years and best wishes to them for the next 150 years of cricket.