County end their season on a high
Herts cricketers finished a poor season on a positive note with a sterling rearguard action to secure a battling draw against a Suffolk team who were looking for a win to push for the Eastern Division title. The county batted throughout the whole of day t
Herts cricketers finished a poor season on a positive note with a sterling rearguard action to secure a battling draw against a Suffolk team who were looking for a win to push for the Eastern Division title.
The county batted throughout the whole of day three to give themselves plenty of encouragement for next season.
The start of the game was met with what can only be described as serious rain - the roads were flooded in parts as rain fell solidly from 6am.
Surprisingly, though, Bury St Edmunds CC's ground swallowed all that the skies offered and a start time of midday was set.
Herts won the toss on what looked like would be a good wicket, albeit it had been sweating under the covers for a good 12 hours, and decided to bowl.
An early breakthrough raised hopes, but that changed all too quickly as dropped catches and poor fielding started to give Suffolk the upper hand.
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Suffolk finished their 90 overs with 364-2, with ex-Derbyshire men Ben France scoring 91 and Hassan Adnan an unbeaten 105.
Herts' batsmen struggled from the off against some aggressive short-pitched bowling from the former Essex duo of Andrew McGarry and Justin Bishop.
The only innings of any note came from Rhys Wynne who scored a gritty 46 on his debut, Aaron Laraman 30 and skipper Andy Lewis 25.
Herts were bowled out for 164, and immediately asked to follow on after tea and ended day two on 80-4.
Hopes rested on Welwyn Garden City wicketkeeper-batsman Dan Blacktopp, another debutant, on 55no and his club colleague Nick Lamb for day three.
On a sunny day three, Blacktopp and Lamb showed how to take time out of the game with some hard work and good judgement. They saw Herts through to lunch with no further wickets down, and Blacktopp on 99no.
Lamb fell early after lunch, and Lewis joined Blacktopp, who went on to reach his maiden hundred before falling for 109 trying to hit the ball out the ground.
Laraman came and went quickly and so in came David Ward to complete his final innings for the county after an illustrious 12-year career in remarkable circumstances.
The 47-year-old former Surrey star, who had announced his retirement earlier, had suffered a chipped bone and damaged ligaments in his ankle, but was determined to bat one last time.
He and Lewis then took the game and the chance of victory away from Suffolk, with some fine striking.
Both passed fifty and started to build a lead, much to the frustration of the whole Suffolk side.
Lewis finally fell for 87 looking to work the spinner for a single, adjudged leg before.
Ward was finally dismissed for 75 after showing all the required passion, pride and determination asked of the players and left to a huge round of applause.
Andy Hicks and Simon White continued the hard work with good concentration and they saw Herts through to 6pm and 373-7 when the game was concluded as a draw, to end the season on a high.
Herts team vs Suffolk: G Brown (Stevenage), H Ilangaratne (Hemel Hempstead), D Blacktopp (WGC, wkt), R Wynne (North Mymms), A Lewis (North Mymms, captain), D Ward (Old Whits), A Laraman (WGC), N Lamb (WGC), J Southgate (WGC), S White (WGC), A Hicks (North Mymms).