HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford Cricket (3-2) sought to end the season with a winning record and avenge their early-season loss to Temple in the last match of the fall season this past Saturday at Cope Field. Last time, the Fords faced Temple, the visitors won by four wickets, after having lost to Haverford in three straight matches during the previous spring, in a series that has quickly become a fierce rivalry.
The visitors won the toss and sent the Fords to bat first, forcing the home team to face the wet conditions from the morning's rain. The Fords would need to overcome a slow outfield, a soaked pitch, and a rapidly deteriorating ball that became increasingly difficult to read. Yet, even these factors weren't enough to put off the Fords, as they defeated Temple by 18 runs in a sometimes tense, but ultimately successful victory that gave the Fords a winning record for the fall campaign.
Haverford would send in usual openers Nathaniel Rolfe and Jack Morgan. Rolfe started strongly with a well-timed two to get the Fords off the mark. Morgan would also open his account with two runs, but on the last ball of the first over, he was bowled. Kaito Nakatani was moved up the lineup to bat at number three in order to stabilize the Fords' innings, but his ability to play defensively was viewed as the best way to make sure a top-order collapse didn't occur. Unfortunately, although Rolfe continued to bat well, Nakatani would be dismissed in the third over leaving Haverford at 15-2.
Co-captain Andrew Cornell joined Rolfe at the center and the captains quickly built up a strong partnership. Quick singles, a couple of strong twos, and a boundary from a pull-shot by Cornell meant that Haverford reached 48-2 after 9 overs, despite the slow outfield. Unfortunately, Rolfe would soon be dismissed by a superb diving catch after striking the ball strongly back towards the bowler, scoring 21 runs off 22 balls. Ethan Flicker would join Cornell at the crease, seeking to rebuild the innings. The pair would carry the Fords to the break to leave the side at 65-3, a competitive total despite the earlier struggles.
Flicker appeared to be continuing his fine form from the previous weeks, driving the ball for four only to be caught by another superb diving catch by the very bowler, who dismissed Rolfe. Emile Givental would be in at six, with the Fords looking for his quick scoring and frequent boundaries, but a lofted delivery would force Givental off balance, allowing the keeper to stump him for naught. Cornell would fall soon after, top scoring with 22 runs off of 31 balls to cap off another strong performance with the bat.
The lower order struggled to stabilize the innings with Malcolm Thompson, Gulesh Shukla, and Matthew Leibold all being dismissed relatively quickly by some of Temple's top bowlers. At 92-9 when Charlie Lynn and Daniel Van Beveren came in, it appeared the Fords might be bowled out for under 100 in a similar fashion to their collapse which left them on 86 against Temple earlier in the season. However, Lynn and Van Beveren would survive the innings, facing Temple's top pace to bring the total up to 107. In what was an excellent tenth-wicket stand, the pair would combine strong running, careful defense and tempered stroke play to add a crucial 15 runs to the total.
With Temple needing a rate of over 5 runs per over to win, Haverford knew that they had a decent and defendable total, but still that strong bowling would be needed to end the season with a winning record. Temple got off to a strong start hitting eight runs off Haverford's opening bowler, Shukla. By the time Temple went into bat, the pitch and outfield had rapidly dried, leaving the Temple batsmen with a noticeably quicker outfield and predictable bounce to help benefit their chase.
Shukla's following overs were noticeably stronger as the Temple openers would have trouble with the pace and the pitch of his delivery. Both batsmen frequently were forced to play off the back foot. Shukla would give up just four runs from his remaining three overs and was rewarded in the seventh over when a fast delivery beat the bat onto the opener's pad as the opener was dismissed LBW. The next over, Rolfe, who was brought on for Van Beveren in the fifth over, would follow Shukla's success, bowling the new batsmen.
After 10 overs, Temple were at 45-2, a comfortable total for them with their top-scorer and opening batsmen still at the crease, and eight wickets still in hand.
The momentum would quickly swing back in Haverford's favor, as Temple's opener fell on the first ball after the break when he tried pulling a flatter delivery from Cornell which went on to hit middle stump. The re-introduction of Van Beveren in the next over would prove fruitful as the number five batsman misplayed Van Beveren's swing and was bowled, while Cornell would get his second wicket when the number six struck his shot directly into the safe hands of Thompson.
Despite the quick wickets, Temple's fourth batsmen quickly increased the pace of his team's innings. Fours, a six, and numerous quick singles saw the Temple's run rate increase noticeably. Suddenly, Temple were right back in the match. The fourth batsmen appeared to take the responsibility on himself to win the match, taking the strike frequently as his teammates began to fall alongside him. The momentum had shifted to Temple and it seemed like Haverford's prospects of a winning season were disappearing.
The introduction of off-spinner Flicker would give the Fords a glimmer of hope when a full flighted delivery tempted the batsman to drive. It appeared initially as a strong shot that would carry to the boundary for six until Rolfe sprinted in quickly and made a lovely diving catch from long off to dismiss the in-form batsman. However, the next batsman would hit eight off his first four deliveries, leaving Temple needing just 29 runs off of 24 delivery. Flicker would continue his form in his next over when he clean bowled this batsman, giving further hope to Haverford.
In the next over, Nakatani took a superb catch off his own ball to get the next wicket. With the ball hit low and slightly to his left, Nakatani dove quickly and with one-hand held on to the ball for a crucial wicket.
This sealed the game, with just two wickets remaining Temple were in serious trouble. Flicker was back on for the next over. The Temple batsman hit a ball in the direction of Morgan at square leg, but he made an excellent catch just off the ground. This Flicker-Morgan pair would finish the match when the new batsman attempted a quick single on a ball hit directly to Morgan. A quick collect and throw to Flicker was enough for the run-out and a superb 18-run victory for the Fords over their bitter rivals.
This was a historic match for Haverford as it was the college's first cricket match to be streamed online via YouTube. Fans tuned in from as far away as California, Illinois, Minnesota, and England. Although there were some technical difficulties, cricket alum Paul Trapido expects to be able to stream all of Haverford's match on the newly created Youtube channel.
The Fords will now take the offseason to continue to improve their batting and bowling in the indoor nets in preparation for the spring season and May's tour to England.