Herts face tough test
HERTS go into their third Minor Counties Championship game of the season, against a strong Suffolk team at picturesque Long Marston on Sunday. But they know they will have to raise their game considerably after their disappointing eight wicket defeat to B
HERTS go into their third Minor Counties Championship game of the season, against a strong Suffolk team at picturesque Long Marston on Sunday.
But they know they will have to raise their game considerably after their disappointing eight wicket defeat to Buckinghamshire at Gerrard's Cross.
They will be boosted by the return of the young Welwyn Garden City all-rounder Nick Lamb from his first-class season with Durham UCCE, as well as that of Tony Skeggs, the Knebworth Park all-rounder, from a business trip, and Hertford batsman Steve Cordingley, the star of their Twenty20 success.
Herts have also brought in young Hertford leg-spinner Phil Carlson to boost their bowling options.
Suffolk, who have had two convincing wins and are riding high in the table, will be a formidable challenge, spearheaded by the former England leg-spinner Chris Schofield and Andy McGarry, a former Essex pace bowler who is one of the quickest and most hostile bowlers at work in the championship.
The pair took 19 wickets between them in Suffolk's most recent win.
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The game is at one of Herts' favourite venues, Long Marston, which is just off the A41 near Tring, and where David Ward has an average for the county of more than 100. The pitch always provides pace, bounce and spin, so it should be a spectacular few days.
Herts will be hoping to play much better than against Bucks, especially with the bat. They won the toss and chose to take first hit, but by lunch on the first day were a worrying 90-5.
"Some rash shots at the top of the order meant we lost wickets in clusters," said skipper Andy Lewis, who singled out 18-year-old debutant Hemish Ilangaratne from Hemel Hempstead for particular praise.
After lunch the Welwyn Garden City pair of Aaron Laraman, with 88 and Ben Frazer with 56 put together a partnership of 132 in 218 balls to take Herts to 258 all out.
"A disappointing first-innings total," Lewis said. And it was put into perspective as Bucks finished the day on 111-1.
Day two dawned grey and drizzly, and the start was delayed for two hours. It was still drizzling through most of the afternoon session, when Laraman bowled superbly without reward with excellent support from Hitchin's David Moore.
After another rain break the umpires restarted at 5.45pm with the aim of playing through until 8pm. Bucks raised the rate, trying to put Herts in again before the close, and their last-wicket pair swung lustily to finish 299 all out.
Herts did not lost a wicket before close, but Spencer Fan, the West Herts opener, took a horrible blow to the hand which stopped him batting on the third day.
Again the top order struggled and Herts were in mortal trouble at 97-5. Laraman and Frazer looked like stabilising things until a mix-up left Laraman stranded and run-out by a distance. Frazer marshalled the lower order and then Moore and Andy Colquhoun, the Potters Bar pace bowler on the MCC young cricketers scheme, stretched the lead to 122 at tea. But Colquhoun was out first ball after the restart, leaving Herts 40 minutes and the last hour to deny Bucks the win.
Herts stretched the game as best they could, and took two quick wickets to give them a glimpse of safety with 17 overs in the last hour. But again Bucks stepped up the rate to get home by eight wickets.
"It was a real disappointment, seeing as we fought hard in periods of the game, but basically we were outplayed in too many sessions. We must all work harder at our own games," said Lewis afterwards.
Herts v Suffolk, Long Marston, Sunday 9 July to Tuesday July 11: A S Lewis (North Mymms, Capt), N J Lamb (Welwyn Garden City), D M Ward (Old Whitgiftians), H B Ilangaratne (Hemel Hempstead), A W Laraman (WGC), B F Frazer (WGC), S P White (WGC), T E Jenkins (Knebworth Park), A E Skeggs (Knebworth Park), P E Carlson (Hertford), S G Cordingley (Hertford).