HAVERFORD, Pa. - After struggling to find their form in the first matches of the season, Haverford Cricket returned to its winnings way last weekend, as the team went 2-0 against the experienced sides of Penn Alumni XI and Amwell Valley CC. It would be a historic weekend too, with Ethan Flicker taking the first hat-trick for Haverford since Alisa Strayer's hat-trick during the 2012 International Cricket Festival.
Saturday vs. Penn Alumni XI
Saturday's match against Penn Alumni XI saw superb batting from co-captain Andrew Cornell and Ethan Flicker as well as hat-trick from Flicker which helped Haverford to victory by seven wickets in the T20 match at Cope Field. Having lost the toss and sent to field first, Haverford found success early and often. Disciplined bowling by openers Gulesh Shukla and Daniel Van Beveren kept Penn scoring slowly, conceding just 15 runs off the first four overs.
Feeling the pressure, the Penn openers attempted a quick single after a missed run-out opportunity saw the ball carry to mid off. This proved to be a mistake when Rolfe went for the direct hit and successfully dismissed their opening batsman for just 3 runs leaving Penn 15-1. Penn struggled after this as they were only able to add another 18 runs in the next six overs.
Later, the introduction of Cornell's off-spin would see the batsmen trapped LBW for three in Cornell's first over. Nathaniel Rolfe's pace beat the batsman when the ball found its way into the hands of Emile Givental, dismissing him for 2. Cornell added another in the next over when the batsman mistimed a shot and the ball saw its way into the stumps, leaving Penn precariously placed at 33-4 through 10 overs.
Penn started strong after the break. Although Rolfe would get another wicket leaving the visitors at 76-5, momentum appeared to have swung away from the hosts. The introduction of Flicker's flighty off-spin into the bowling attack would prove to be the deciding factor in taking the game away from Penn. His first wicket came off his third delivery of the over. Flicker pitched the ball up towards the batsman, who missed his shot and feebly floated the ball to Cornell at square leg to take an easy catch.
The next batsman in faced a similar short-delivery from Flicker. Once again, the batsman misjudged the flight of the ball, knocking the ball straight up and backwards to wicketkeeper Charlie Lynn who, having been stood up to the stumps, retreated quickly to take the second wicket. With the possibility of a hat-trick alive, Haverford adjusted the field to give Flicker the best chance for his debut hat-trick for the college. This time, Flicker changed the pitch of his delivery. A quicker full-length delivery was offered up to the batsman who attempted to flick the ball towards the leg side. Instead, he found a diving Van Beveren who made a difficult low catch to his left between square leg and mid-wicket.
The momentum had clearly shifted in the direction of the Fords. After Flicker completed his over, Penn Alumni had fallen to 78-8. Flicker would get another when the batsmen drove the ball to mid-off where Cornell made a diving catch on the boundary. Flicker's bowling figures of 4/10 are the best by any current player, with the second best (4/11) being held by Flicker as well.
Flicker's last wicket would end the innings, leaving Haverford with 93 to chase. After the break, Haverford soon found themselves in trouble as they lost Morgan and then his replacement Shukla in the second over to leave the Fords down 7-2. Rolfe would stick around a little longer, scoring 9 runs before being bowled. Cornell came to the crease to replace Shukla, and it would be him and Flicker who would stabilize the Fords's innings. Both started slowly (Cornell would face 10 deliveries before his first runs), knowing that they had enough time to build an innings and win the match for the Fords. The pair knew they needed to bat patiently.
Over 12 solid overs, Flicker and Cornell showed incredible discipline to chase down the total set by Penn Alumni. After 10 overs, Haverford were 43-3. When Flicker and Cornell returned to the field, the pair picked up the pace slightly. This was a performance of discipline and orthodox stroke play. There was nothing overly flashy from the pair who knew they needed protect their wickets in order to stabilize the chase and give the Fords hope of victory.
Cornell hit one boundary, but overwhelming this was an inning of singles and the occasionally two-runs. Flicker and Cornell exchanged the strike with ease and soon chipped away at the total. Well inside 20 overs, Flicker and Cornell reached the 94 runs to win the match by 7 wickets. Flicker scored 21 runs, while Cornell made 37.
Sunday vs. Amwell Valley CC
Facing Amwell Valley on Sunday, the Fords were hoping for their first win against the side in eight years, especially after last year's bitter loss where the hosts failed to score to two runs in the last two balls to win the match. This time it would be massive victory for the Fords in large part to Rolfe, Morgan, Givental and Cornell who all continued the superb-tempered form that Flicker and Cornell demonstrated the day before.
Losing the toss, Haverford was again forced to field. Shukla found success in the second over with another one of his quick, good-length deliveries deflecting off the batsman's hands and into the gloves of wicketkeeper Lynn. Amwell Valley appeared to be recovering from the early loss of a wicket and it wouldn't be until the 10th over until Haverford found their second. After losing a close LBW appeal in the first ball of his overs, Cornell got revenge, slipping the ball under the batsman's bat and into his off stump. Despite this wicket, it looked like Haverford was again in trouble as Amwell Valley settled down and played conservatively, refusing to sacrifice any wickets and finding comfort in their number five batsman who was set and scoring quickly.
Haverford would soon regain control after Amwell Valley's No. 5 drove a ball deep to long on but was taken by surprise when Givental launched the ball from the boundary directly into the wickets catching the batsmen out of his crease in a superb runout. Haverford would finish the innings in quick order after Givental's wicket breathed new life to the innings with Cornell, Van Beveren, and Flicker all taking wickets while Cornell exacted another runout when he sent the ball into the stumps from square leg. Still, the visitors set a difficult total of 137 from their 30 overs.
Haverford knew that they would have to bat well to chase down Amwell Valley's ambitious total. It would be imperative for the batsmen to bat sensibly without giving up their wickets while scoring at a steady pace. Rolfe and Morgan opened the batting, the pair yet to develop a strong partnerships together.
This Sunday was a different story. A total of 12 runs were scored off the first over and 12 more off the second. Rolfe hit three fours and four threes, as he reached 43 runs off 33 balls. Morgan faced 35 deliveries and responded with an impressive 27 runs. When Rolfe was bowled in the tenth over, Haverford were already well on their way to victory with 66 runs. Shukla came in briefly, but once again it was Cornell and Givental who helped push the Fords to victory.
Cornell and Givental continued the orthodox form of Morgan and Rolfe, playing straight defenses and driving when sensible to build the total rapidly. This style paid off, with Cornell hitting 28 off 21 balls and Givental hitting 23 off 12. This orthodoxy continued until the last ball when, needing four to win, Cornell pulled off a reverse sweep to send the ball flying gully for four runs, giving the Fords the required 138 to win.
Haverford coach Kamran Khan was extremely pleased with Sunday's batting performance, saying of the sensible batting and proper form, "In all my years of coaching at Haverford, the batting this weekend was the most disciplined by American players who learned their cricket at Haverford."
This Saturday at noon, Haverford once again face off against Temple for the final match of the fall season, a crucial match if the Fords hope to finish the fall with a winning record. They will look to continue the momentum picked up over the weekend, especially from the match against Amwell Valley, a team who the Fords traditionally struggled to beat, into this Saturday's match at Cope Field.