'Potts' passes the baton in style

Delighted winners Haverfordwest

Haverfordwest (140 all out and 187 for 3) beat Lawrenny (192 for 5 and 143 all out) by seven wickets

Umpires: Dave Bonner and Simon Richards
Scorers: Jayne Cole and Malcolm Thomas
Man of the Match: Adam James

Potts is understandably delightedFor Danny Potter, it was the perfect way to pass over the baton.

But even he wouldn’t have foreseen what was to come in the 2019 Harrison-Allen Bowl final between Haverfordwest and Lawrenny – a day when the drama began before a ball had even been bowled.

The Town arrived in Cresselly searching for a third Bowl win in five years, but for this final things were different. Five of their starting XI were debuting on this stage, and they were facing a side who were runners up in 2018 and had beaten them twice in the league that season.

Big changes in Town team

In fact, many had Potter and co down as underdogs.

“We’d had some big changes since 2016,” he recalled.

“Me and Ben (Field) made a conscious choice after that to get younger players in - as a team we weren’t getting any younger.

“In the two previous finals nearly everyone had played in a Bowl final before so we didn’t have to explain what to expect. But for this, our senior players had to play a bigger role and try and get the new lads through it but without putting too much pressure on them.

“And the end of the day the Bowl final is only a game of cricket.”

Poignant motivation for ‘Potts’

But for Potter, there was personal, more poignant motivation. It may have simply been a game of cricket, but it was to be his last as Haverfordwest captain after an intense seven seasons at the helm.
“That did add to it all for me,” he admitted.

“Whenever you play in a Bowl final as captain you want to win it, but not many get the chance to go out in that way.

“It was also the first time the game had been moved to the last weekend of the season. I didn’t want to lose the Harrison-Allen in my last match in charge – that would have always hurt.”

Jamie’s injury pre-match blow for Lawrenny but they start well

Hugh Harrison-Allen presents the Bowl to Danny PotterPrior to the match there was a minute’s silence in memory of top cricket umpire John Williams, impeccably observed and one which moved everyone.

Inadvertently, Potter and co had been boosted in the warm up but not in the manner they would have liked. Jamie Lewis, a key bowler in the Lawrenny line-up, went down with a serious injury and was to play no further part in the day.

Regardless, The Town opted to bowl first, a decision which initially seemed to backfire as Kurtis Marsh and Brad McDermott-Jenkins bludgeoned 93 for the first wicket.

Marsh would make 44 and his opening partner 76, before Harry Thomas maintained the momentum with an unbeaten 53. Adam James and Lee Summons took two wickets each as The Town stemmed the tide late on – but a final total of 192-5 meant it was advantage Lawrenny.

Big score but it could have been worse

“We’d usually been a bat-first team but with the weather having been poor in the week, and Adam opening, I thought two or three early wickets would stand us in good stead,” said Potter.

“But they got off to an absolute flier and just continued. Straight off the openers played exceptionally well and Harry did too.

“In fairness to our boys we slowed the rate though and by the time we walked off we were actually quite happy – as at one stage they were looking at 230.”

Still, action was needed. And it was here where Potter played his free card.

‘Jamer’ jolts Lawrenny hopes but they still lead by 43 at tea

Adam James hits out in style“In about the 15th over of their innings I decided Adam would be opening for us. I thought even if he got us to 50 quickly and got out it would take pressure of boys coming in behind him.
“When I told him he just laughed and said ‘whatever’.”

The plan worked. James took Ryan Morton for 25 in four balls early on, and by the time partner Simon Holliday had given a return catch to McDermott-Jenkins, The Town were on 61 and The Doc had made just 10 of them.

James would make 84 before holing out off Kurtis Marsh, but it was the latter’s 3-29, plus 3-40 from McDermott-Jenkins, that kept Lawrenny in control. In fact, it took a vital 25 not out from Lee Summons to take his side to 149 all out – a deficit of 43.

“We were flat at tea because of how we’d performed barring Adam.

“But Lee’s innings turned out to be important because it wasn’t easy for him batting as wickets were tumbling.

Third innings a key factor as always

“As captain I knew the third innings was key and I said let’s try and restrict them because we have the batsmen to chase a total.

“It was about senior players standing up and keeping the boys positive. We didn’t want to be chasing any more than 200.”

He got his wish.

This time around McDermott-Jenkins fell early, bowled by Clive Tucker. You sensed the tension.

Marsh and Thomas steadied matters as a stand of 64 took matters to 71-1, but minutes later the scoreboard read 91-5 as Holliday’s slow stuff wreaked havoc. He would go on to take 4-33 and although Marsh finished on 58 and Morton blasted a quick 15, the innings fell to 143 all out.

High target but momentum had shifted . . .

The victory target of 187 was still an imposing one, but the momentum had changed.

Again, James was sent out first up and he and Holliday obliged by reaching 100-0 inside nine overs.
The all-rounder survived one scare along the way as he was put down by Lawrenny skipper Joe Kidney, but even by then things were moving fast.

“The way those two batted was massive and got us in a good position. Now there was no need to panic – Cresselly has always been a pitch where you can score 7 or 8 an over without taking any risks.”

Hope did emerge for Lawrenny as Holliday (43) was brilliantly caught by McDermott-Jenkins off his own bowling, and then man of the match James fell to the same man just 19 short of a ton he declined to play for.

. . . And kipper Dan and heir Dai finish things off

Archie Thomas also came and went but then at 149-3, it was up to the skipper and the heir to his throne to finish the job.

Young Haverfordwest players celebrate“By then most of us knew Dai (Davies) would be our next captain. We’d both played cricket for Haverfordwest for 20 years plus to it was nice to be there together at the end.”

Even if it was Davies who stole the finishing moment, slashing Rob Williams to the fence in the 18th over and completing a triumph that few would have envisaged at tea. Potter could now not only embrace his batting partner, but also happily say ‘over to you’.

“It would have been nice to hit the winning runs but you can’t have it all,” he laughed.

“But it was hard after to take it all in. Emotions fluctuate in those finals, especially given our position at tea.

Hard lesson learned in extended Town celebration!

A sad moment for Jamie Lewis“Seeing how the youngsters were celebrating was hugely satisfying though. It had been great to finish by helping them experience it and I knew that moving forward, this would be a huge moment for the club.
“In some respects it was the most enjoyable of my three finals as captain.”

There was one downside though. New generation, new celebrations.

“They could drink, I learnt that. I was 20 when I won my first Bowl final so I did understand but they were on it all night then back up the club next morning, whereas I couldn’t touch a drop on the Sunday.

“We couldn’t bring the actual Bowl back to the club, so we ended up with some horrendous stag head as a replica. Maybe that was good thing though as the trophy would have been used like it was goldfish bowl in Ibiza.”

The night may be hazy for Potter. But while he remains a key player at The Town, he can look back on his final day as Haverfordwest captain with a clear head – and a great deal of pride.

A minutes silence for John - impeccably observed

Jayne Cole receives her mementoMalcolm Thomas receives his memento

Umpires Dave Bonner and Simon RichardsGlyn Cole presents the man of the match trophy to Adam James

Runners-up Lawrenny (pre-match)