Harrison-Allen Bowl 2020 - Final Preview

Harrison-Alan Bowl

Can the Town retain The Bowl or will Neyland’s powerhouse side deny them?

When the Harrison-Bowl Final takes place at Cresselly it will lack its usual boundary atmosphere because of the coronavirus but it will still have both Haverfordwest and Neyland showing total commitment and desperation to lift the coveted trophy.

Following ‘Cricket Wales’ guidelines there will be no spectators but there will still be a real battle on the field as Haverfordwest look to retain the trophy they won last season with a great come-back against Lawrenny.

But they know that they face a Neyland side which is arguably the strongest seen in the county for many years, perhaps ever, and it is a rare occasion that The Town has started a final as underdogs.

Huge strength in depth in Neyland batting line-up . . .

There is no doubt that Neyland have the greater strength in depth in the batting stakes as their front-line trio of  Patrick Bellerby, Ashley Sutton and Nick Koomen are key figures but close behind them come Hardy and McDermott Jenkins, followed by the likes of Nathan Banner, Scott Jones, Henry Durrant and the Hannon Twins.

A measure of their class comes from the fact that in Andrew Miller they have someone who used to regularly feature in the top three batsmen in the county but now, an early collapse apart, is likely to bat much lower down.

. . . The Town rely on their top six

In contrast, Haverfordwest include several youngsters who are unlikely to be match-winners in the batting stakes but they have a very experienced first six where former skipper Danny Potter, current captain Dai Davies, Ben Field and Lee Summons have proven form in run-gathering.

Their aces, however, are Adam James and Simon Holliday so thare is huge pressure on their broad shoulders as Neyland will be trying desperately to shackle their big hitting so they play rash shots and get out.

‘Jamer’ smashed 62 not out in the semi-final and no-one in attendance last season will ever forget his 86 and 81 that destroyed Lawrenny. ‘The Doc’ has only played once this season, in the semi-final, but he will make sure of serious net practice before the big day and look to continue his role as the most prolific run-maker since he came to the county.

Haverfordwest have young bowling talent alongside Holliday and the incredible Tucker 

The Town have talented youngsters in their pace attack as Archie Thomas and Johnny White are terrific prospects alongside James, with skipper Davies and Summons also available to provide contrast – but the performances of their spin bowlers Holliday and Clive Tucker that could prove influential.
Holliday’s left-arm stuff has sometimes caused havoc if he gets on top whilst Tucker’s re-emergence over recent seasons, after dropping down to the second team, has been remarkable as he now plays in his 11th final and is still as economical as ever. An interesting fact is that he won the man of the match award in 1998, before FOUR of his current team mates were born!

Just who will feature for this Neyland bowling juggernaut?

Neyland skipper Hannon’s main problem on the bowling front appears to be that he has so many possible choices because he has the genuine pace of his brother Patrick and Banner; plus medium pace stuff from Hardy, McDermott-Jenkins, Koomen, Bellerby and  Sutton.
There has also been another option in previous seasons where Sean Hannon has bowled his pace stuff before taking back the keeper’s glove!
Henry Durrant provides variety with his left-armers, Scott Jones has taken wickets this season with his slow stuff and in Andrew Miller he has a potential match winner who, in four previous rounds, has claimed a remarkable THIRTEEN WICKETS for only 98 runs at an average of 7.5!

Fielding skills will be vital if it’s close – and Neyland look sharper!

Neyland over the past few seasons have been acknowledged for their fielding and catching ability, sharpened to some degree by their terrific performances across the UK in the six-aside format. Bellerby, Sutton, and Banner are good boundary catchers amongst most of the rest of the team.

Haverfordwest have their young guns but they won’t thank me for saying that a few of their older players are not as sharp as they used to be, with skipper Davies, Thomas, Merry and Summons as some of their sharpest in chasing balls to the boundary.

So who will win this intriguing tussle?

As someone who is sometimes unfairly tarnished as a pundit who jinxes teams by my choice I genuinely find this year’s battle a difficult one. Neyland are undoubtedly favourites but Haverfordwest have some real battlers in their side who will relish the underdog label everyone is putting on them.

Something tells me it could be a Town double but I have been so impressed by Neyland this season, not only by individual performances but their team ethic when the going gets tough. 

Their only Achilles heel could be if they make the mistake of underestimating the opposition but I somehow think that inspirational leader Sean Hannon won’t allow that to happen – So I have to go for Neyland to lift the magnificent Harrison-Allen Bowl!