Hemel Town first XI lose out to Harpenden on final day of the season

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They picked up a win last week but Hemel Town I couldn’t make it successive Herts Premier Division victories as they succumbed to Harpenden in the last league game of the season.

Putting Harpenden in to bat first, two early wickets by Brett Penny had them at 12-2 after four overs, but 48 from Dan Blacktopp and 42 from Jake Pankhurst revived the Harpo innings.

A fine knock of 68 n/o from 58 balls at the end from Will Jones saw Harpo over the 200-run mark to end on 202-7. The wicket takers for Hemel were Penny with 3-43 and Steve Reader with 3-26 from his 10 overs.

Hemel’s reply didn’t get off to the best of starts, with Will Jones removing Penny caught behind off the first ball.

Things didn’t really get any better as Hemel’s batsmen were dismissed in sorry quick fashion. Sam Jenkinson stayed in for 82 minutes to score 32 but the only other double figure scores came from Parth Mehta (25 n/o) and Steve Reader (15) at 10 and 11 as they put on 33 for the last wicket.

Hemel succumbed to a 97-run defeat and the already known prospect of Championship cricket for next season.

Harpenden completed the double as they beat Hemel Town II to add to their win over the first XI on the last weekend of the campaign.

Already promoted from Herts Saracens League Division 2B, Harpenden II got the better of a Hemel II side who were already resigned to finishing third after losing to league winners Abbots Langley two weeks ago.

There were no great performances from Harpenden who relied on Ollie Tuck (72 n/o) to get them to a reasonable score. Figures of 3-31 from Charlie Hoskins represented the pick of the Hemel bowling, with wickets spread among the other bowlers.

Hemel didn’t set the chase alight as only four men reached double figures – Liam Jahn made 21, Bryan Davies added 19 and Andy Turbutt and Charlie Hoskins both scored 29, putting on 63 for the ninth wicket.

But it was not enough as Hemel ended up losing by 18 runs.

With gloomy results at the top of the order, good news came flooding in from Hemel Town III as they won and secured promotion from Division 5A by grabbing second place in the table.

The ‘what-ifs’ of last week came into fruition as bottom side Preston II narrowly won by two wickets against Hatfield & Crusaders, thus preserving their division status and enabling Hemel to gain the promotion place by beating London Colney.

Not that it was that straightforward. Put in to bat, London Colney made 181-9, with three wickets each for Anjam Khan (3-32) and Taq Hussain (3-29).

It was a total to go for but, after nine overs, Hemel were 18-5 and in all sorts of trouble. Then came the match winning and promotion winning partnership of 160 between Taq Hussain (68 n/o) and Neil Morgan (85) which saw Hemel over the line.

The good news on the last day of the league season was not just confined to the third XI gaining promotion – it was also Hemel Town IV’s escape from relegation.

Hemel did their bit, beating Little Berko Sahibs, while league winners Frogmore trounced Letchworth GC IV to enable Hemel to creep above them and avoid the drop.

Little Berko Sahibs were dependent on Trevor Allum, who scored over half of their runs with a knock of 117. Hemel wickets were spread among the bowlers, with Dawood Iqbal’s 1-30 and Martin Botha’s 1-26 from their 10 overs the best returns.

It was a total to chase, and Mike Samuels (61) scored his first 50 of the league season to get things on the way. Knocks of 45 from Nick Benson, 34 n/o from Tony Linfoot, 31 from Steve Smith and 29 from Dawood Iqbal saw Hemel to victory and safety for this season.