Harrison Allen-Bowl final: Haverfordwest (149 all out and 188-3) beat Lawrenny (192-5 and 143 all out) by 7 wickets

It was brutal. It was uncompromising. It was defining.

And it won Haverfordwest the Harrison-Allen Bowl for the 10th time in the club’s history.

Anyone who paid a flicker of interest to Saturday’s final will know what I’m referring to. The batting of Adam James, who with knocks of 86 and 81 stole the show as The Town overturned a 43 run deficit at tea to eventually win with 17 balls still to spare.

Man of the match James faced just 74 balls for his cumulative total of 167. Over the course of the day he cracked 16 sixes and nine fours. This wasn’t achieved with finesse, grace, placement – it wasn’t owed to hours in the nets or a honed technique – and it certainly wasn’t the culmination of meticulous preparation and focus.

After all, he hadn’t picked up a bat in anger for six weeks beforehand.

It was just hard and precisely timed hitting from a bloke almost oblivious to being on Pembrokeshire cricket’s big stage. And with all the excess scrutiny on the game at all levels these days, there was something gloriously simplistic about watching it.

Sure enough, James is the sort of cricketer you don’t bother to try and manage. He cares of course, you don’t play at the levels he has by not, but you won’t find him spending the week analysing opposition bowling patterns. Asking him to take things more seriously is futile.

The upshot being he doesn’t do nerves. And like with the ball in the 2016 final, and then with the bat on Saturday, he performs in high pressure situations – perhaps because he doesn’t really notice he’s in them.

Promoting him to opener was Danny Potter’s free play. James was just as likely to hole out first ball as he was to destroy the bowling but regardless, he wasn’t going to die wondering about it. As it happens he twice got away early and kept going, and going, and going.

He wasn’t there for the finale when Dai Davies slashed one to the rope to seal a seven wicket win that few would have bet on at the interval, but the damage had been done long before then.

For Lawrenny defeat would have been painful. They arrived as this year’s final that little bit stronger, that little bit more experienced, and that little bit more favoured than they did when losing to Cresselly a year ago.

It’s always worse when you’re left ruing things. Usually, they wouldn’t have had to cope with losing a key strike bowler in the warm-up. On Saturday they did.

Usually, they wouldn’t have let James off the hook when he was on 15 in the second innings. On Saturday they did.

Usually, they wouldn’t have lost their way with the bat when in control of the opposition. On Saturday they did.

And yet for Joe Kidney’s side, who have developed so significantly these past two years, it all started so well.

They coped with the misfortune of Jamie Lewis’ injury, and losing the toss, by delivering some hammer blows as Kurtis Marsh and Brad McDermott-Jenkins bludgeoned 93 for the first wicket.

Marsh went for 44, his more senior partner fell later for 76 - 54 of which came in boundaries. It was ruthless stuff and Harry Thomas continued the momentum by blasting 53 of his own, and while The Town fought back late on the consensus was after a score of 192-5, it was advantage Lawrenny.

When James took Ryan Morton for 25 off four balls in the fifth over it looked less so, and a measure of his run rate was that by the time Simon Holliday gave a return to catch McDermott-Jenkins, the scoreboard read 61 and The Doc had only made 10 of them.

From there Lawrenny rallied though. James Buckle took a blinding catch to remove Potter, McDermott-Jenkins the same with James. Wickets tumbled and it took 25 not out from Lee Summons to take The Town to 149 all out – not out of the contest, but far from on top of it either.

And yet it felt far from over. The Town’s line up combined final rookies with multiple Bowl winners. The latter factor made you suspect they’d have the mentality to claw it back.

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

And yet Marsh and Thomas seemed to settle it by taking things away from The Town. A stand of 64 took matters to 71-1, but minutes later we were looking at 91-5.

Holliday had been thus far quiet with bat and ball - but was never going to let the afternoon pass him by. He drew Thomas into holing out to James on the boundary when well placed on 33, and the all-rounder would go on to finish with 4-33.

Marsh reached a measured 58 before frustration got the better of him and he charged at Tucker, and missed, keeper Jack Scriven doing the rest. Morton came in No 8 and blasted a quick 15 but the innings fell to 143 all out.

The momentum had changed.

The target was 187 for The Town, a number that looked immeasurably easier when they reached 100-0 in nine overs, Holliday joining James in belting Messrs Morton, Marsh, and Williams to all parts.

Not without a hair raising moment mind. In only the second over James began to warm up by going 6, 4, 4 off Marsh– before an attempt at a fourth straight boundary saw him put down by Kidney in the covers. The batsman inevitably capitalised.

Hope did later emerge for Lawrenny – with the score on 107 Holliday was brilliantly caught by McDermott-Jenkins off his own bowling, James then found Morton on the boundary off the same man just 19 short of a ton he declined to play for, and Archie Thomas came in only to be bowled by Marsh.

But by that point, with the score 149-3, Potter and Davies had the platform set for them.

McDermott-Jenkins continued to run in with everything he had but as fatigue set in, Potter twice picked him off with boundaries in the 18th over and then with just three needed to win, Davies took Williams to the fence in the 19th to finish matters.

For Potter, it was a fitting way to end a captaincy tenure that has now seen him lift the Bowl three times. Davies is widely expected to be his successor and if so, their embrace when the winning runs were hit was a decent way to hand over the baton.

As for James, I spoke to him Sunday, expecting one of the stock answers you get from a guy 24 hours after being man of the match in a final.

Maybe ‘cheers mate still buzzing’, or ‘sore head but back on it today’, or even ‘thanks it was a great day’.

Nah.

“Cricket done and dusted for another year thank Christ.”

The better sportsmen and women often possess an ability to live in their own World.

On Saturday, James forced everyone else to live in his with him.

Scorecard:

Lawrenny first innings:

Kurtis Marsh c Mike Jones b Simon Holliday 44

Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins b Lee Summons 76

Harry Thomas not out 53

James Phillips b Lee Summons 2

Ryan Morton b Adam James 5

Joe Kidney b Adam James 1

Thomas Cole not out 4

Extras: 7.

Overs: 22.

Total (for 5 wickets) 192

Bowling: Adam James 6-0-57-2; Clive Tucker 2-0-22-0; Simon Holliday 5-0-41-1; Archie Thomas 6-0-39-0; Lee Summons 3-0-30-2.

Haverfordwest first innings:

Adam James c Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins b Kurtis Marsh 84

Simon Holliday c & b Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 10

Danny Potter c James Buckle b Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 1

Dai Davies b Kurtis Marsh 1

Ben Field b Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 0

Lee Summons not out 25

Jake Merry st James Phillips b Kurtis Marsh 9

Mike Jones c James Buckle b Ryan Morton 4

Archie Thomas c Ryan Morton b Rob Williams 1

Jack Scriven James Phillips b Ryan Morton 3

Clive Tucker run out (James Buckle) 3

Extras: 8.

Overs: 21.5.

Total (for 10 wickets) 149

Bowling: Ryan Morton 5-0-40-2; Rob Williams 4.5-0-32-1; Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 6-0-40-3; Kurtis Marsh 6-1-29-3.

Lawrenny second innings:

Kurtis Marsh st Jack Scriven b Clive Tucker 58

Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins b Clive Tucker 5

Harry Thomas c Adam James b Simon Holliday 33

James Phillips c Mike Jones b Simon Holliday 0

Steve Lewis c Adam James b Simon Holliday 2

Joe Kidney c Jake Merry b Simon Holliday 4

James Buckle run out (Simon Holliday) 6

Ryan Morton lbw b Adam James 15

James Skeels not out 9

Thomas Cole run out (Archie Thomas) 3

Rob Williams c Jake Merry b Archie Thomas

Extras: 6.

Overs: 21.2.

Total (for 10 wickets) 143 

Bowling: Adam James 6-0-40-1; Clive Tucker 4-1-34-2; Archie Thomas 5.2-0-32-1; Simon Holliday 6-0-36-4.

Haverfordwest second innings:

Adam James c Ryan Morton b Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 81

Simon Holliday c & b Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 43

Danny Potter not out 37

Archie Thomas b Ryan Morton 7

Dai Davies not out 15

Extras: 5.

Overs: 19.1.

Total (for 3 wickets) 188

Bowling: Ryan Morton 6-0-43-1; Kurtis Marsh 4-0-56-0; Rob Williams 3.1-0-30-0; Brad Mcdermott-Jenkins 6-0-56-2.

Umpires: Dave Bonner and Simon Richards.

Scorers: Jayne Cole and Malcolm Thomas.