Brown's innings in vain for Herts

Minor Counties Championship Cambs 267 and 236-9 dec Herts 132 and 233 Cambs won by 138 runs Herts skipper Andy Lewis faces a huge challenge as he takes his side to play Staffordshire in a tough three-day assignment at Longton starting this Sunday after a

Minor Counties Championship

Cambs 267 and 236-9 dec

Herts 132 and 233

Cambs won by 138 runs


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Herts skipper Andy Lewis faces a huge challenge as he takes his side to play Staffordshire in a tough three-day assignment at Longton starting this Sunday after a deeply disappointing start to their Minor Counties Championship programme.

A decisive 138-run defeat by Cambridgeshire, not regarded as one of the strongest teams, was no way to prepare for Staffs, who are a top-flight outfit.

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And coming on the back of the four successive defeats in the one-day trophies, it means that Herts have had a seriously bleak start to the season.

Lewis pulled no punches after the Cambs game, with a direct challenge to his players to produce better performances.

"If as individuals we do not work harder at our own games, it will be difficult to improve as a unit," he said.

"It's a simple case of hard work and dedication now.

"We must value our wickets more. Batting for longer periods will mean not only that we take time out of the game, but also that we put together bigger totals.

"In the field we must bowl on one side of the wicket to stop the opposition having the freedom of getting off strike.

"If we do that then we will build pressure and they will make mistakes."

Lewis said there had been isolated bright spots in the game against Cambs at Bishop's Stortford, but they were outweighed by the overall poverty of the performance.

There was praise for Stevenage's 20-year-old opening batsman, Gary Brown, who made a gritty 70 in the second innings, after being struck a nasty blow on the foot when fielding at silly mid-off.

"It showed he has great potential as a Minor Counties player," said Lewis of Brown's fifth half-century for the county.

"But he should have gone through to score his first hundred for us having done all the hard work.

"He has worked very hard on his technique over the last year and now needs to do the same with his mental approach in order to turn good 70s into matchwinning hundreds."

The story of the game itself was fairly simple. Cambs won the toss and compiled a workmanlike total of 267.

Herts' challenge was effectively killed off on the first evening when they slumped to 75-5. They fared little better the next morning, falling for 132 to concede a decisive first-innings lead of 135.

In normal Herts fashion they they started to fight back strongly, reducing Cambs to 88-5. But they were then frustrated by a series of late partnerships and Cambs managed to declare on 236-9, leaving Herts 372 to win.

Brown and Potters Bar's Steve Gale survived the awkward evening session to leave Herts thinking that if they could bat all through the third day they had the chance of pulling a win out of the fire.

But Gale fell to the first ball of the last day, and when Lewis and David Ward soon followed, Herts were 38-3 before slipping to 123-5.

Brown was batting beautifully and was joined by Ben Frazer in the best cricket of the day.

The Welwyn GC all-rounder put on a wonderful exhibition of clean hitting - "one of the best I have seen at this level" said Lewis - and scored 61 off just 30 balls, with two sixes and eight fours. But it was too little, too late.

Brown was caught for 70, the tail subsided meekly and Herts were left to chew over their fifth defeat n five outings this season.

Herts team (vs Cambs): S Gale (Potters Bar), G Brown (Stevenage), A Lewis (North Mymms, capt), D Ward (Old Whitgiftians), A Laraman (WGC), N Lamb (WGC), B Frazer (WGC), M Smith (West Herts), S White (WGC), S Coleman (Bishop's Stortford), S Greenall (Sawbridgeworth).

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