HAVERFORD, Pa. - Haverford Cricket opened the Spring season with a crushing victory over the visiting Amwell Valley Cricket Club from Amwell Valley, New Jersey this past Saturday. Senior Captain Nathaniel Rolfe executed one of the greatest innings at Haverford College as he pummeled the opposition for an incredible 97-run not out. Rolfe carried his bat in the 30-over in a true captain's knock – this marks the closest anyone has gotten to a century since Mathew Abraham '97 achieved the feat in a 40-over game against the British Officers Cricket Club over 20 years ago.
Haverford sent Rolfe to open the batting with sophomore Jack Morgan. Rolfe displayed intent from the get go, crashing a half-volley through long-off for a boundary to get off the mark within the first over. Amwell Valley counter-punched immediately in the next over, with Morgan mistiming a drive to straight to the hands of extra cover. Haverford appeared in trouble when Kaito Nakatani was bowled the vert next delivery when the ball clipped the top of off-stump. Senior Captain Andrew Cornell came to the middle to join his fellow hoping to stabilize the innings. The two captains played with caution as they sought to stabilize the innings. Cornell started to open up in ninth over when Amwell Valley, flicking the ball past square leg for four. At the 15-over mark, Rolfe and Cornell had successfully consolidated the innings with 86 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets.
Rolfe led the charge to increase the scoring rate, hitting two boundaries in an over. Bowling changes by Amwell Valley failed as Rolfe cut a wide ball away to the point region for a boundary. Cornell joined the party, playing a pull shot to send the ball to the fine leg boundary. Cornell would be the first of the pair to fall, top-edging a slower ball to mid-on, finishing his innings of 34 runs from 54 balls. Replacing him was sophomore Emile Givental, the first of Haverford's hard-hitting middle order. Givental bludgeoned the fourth ball he faced over the cow corner boundary for six, the first of the innings. Rolfe continued his bruising innings as he battered the ball over the off and leg-sides, as Givental continued his hard hitting innings with another six.
Givental was unable to finish out the innings as he was bowled in the 28th over by a nasty Yorker, finishing with brisk figures of 31 runs from just 16 balls. There was no respite for Amwell Valley as Rolfe executed one of the greatest innings at Haverford College as he pummeled the opposition for an incredible 97-run not out. Malcolm Thompson then came to the crease. Thompson got off the mark against his very first ball with a crunching straight drive that sent the ball screaming past long-off for four. Rolfe and Thompson sought to increase the run-rate, with Thompson finishing the innings on 13 runs from 6 balls and Rolfe on an incredible 97 runs from 98 balls. Haverford's total score stood at 192 runs for the loss of just four wickets from the full allotment of 30 overs.
While Amwell Valley faced a tough chase, it was far from impossible for the highly experienced squad who also had the benefit of a dryer pitch and quicker outfield. The new ball was shared by first year Gulesh Shukla and junior Daniel Van Beveren. Shukla took the ball first and found success in his first over when a wider delivery was edged to Cornell at slips. Amwell Valley slumped further as Daniel Van Beveren struck with the very first ball of his spell, delivering a bouncer which was edged by the batsman and caught by senior wicketkeeper Charlie Lynn. With Amwell Valley in early trouble, Nakatani was introduced and tasked with limiting their scoring. Cornell would be the next change, introducing his off-spin in the 10th over. The move bore fruit in Cornell's second over when the batsman lofted the ball straight to the safe hands of Rolfe. Haverford's bowlers failed to take wickets as Amwell Valley's Alan George dug in to stabilize the innings. Rolfe would come into the bowling attack in the 16th over. Rolfe would find his breakthrough in his third over, sending a Yorker past the batsman and into the stumps. Rolfe was taken out of the attack and Thompson came on for his debut bowling spell with the college.
He shared the ball with off-spinner Ethan Flicker in a bowling spell that would prove Fatal for Amwell Valley. Thompson took his first wicket for the college in his second over when the ball brushed the batsman's gloves en-route to Lynn. Thompson took a second wicket when the batsman sliced the ball to third man, where junior Matthew Leibold took a high, running catch. Flicker tempted Alan George into off-drive, which was then caught by Thompson at long-off. Flicker tore through the lower-order, taking the last two wickets in consecutive balls with a top edge caught by Givental at midwicket to end Amwell Valley's innings. Thompson did well to take two wickets on his bowling debut, and Flicker led the team, taking three. With the fall of the last wicket, Haverford found themselves ahead by a massive 59 runs, an enormous margin of victory for the College.
This game marked an incredible start to the spring season. Rolfe was awarded the Man of the match for his innings, an astounding 97 runs, including nine fours. Haverford's last centurion, Mathew Abraham '97 watched Rolfe challenge his record on the sidelines, smiling with the knowledge that his record may yet be threatened again this season this band of nearly all American-born cricketers.
Head Coach Kamran Khan is quoted "Nathaniel batted one of the greatest knocks I have seen in my 46 years at Haverford College, and it is perhaps the best since Nathaniel has never played any cricket in his life until Haverford College."
An on-demand stream of this match are available on the Haverford XI Cricket Youtube channel, with in-game commentary provided by Paul Trapido '78, Isfar Munir '18, and Ilze Thielmann P'21.