Herts retain title in style
Hertfordshire s cricketers retained their Four Counties Twenty20 title in emphatic fashion at Burnham on Sunday with three comprehensive victories. And what will have pleased skipper Andy Lewis most was the professional way his team went about their work
Hertfordshire's cricketers retained their Four Counties Twenty20 title in emphatic fashion at Burnham on Sunday with three comprehensive victories.
And what will have pleased skipper Andy Lewis most was the professional way his team went about their work throughout a long, tiring day in which the first ball was bowled at 10.15am and the last at 7.21pm.
Neither Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire nor Bedfordshire seriously threatened Herts' grip on the Graham Skinner Shield as their batting, bowling and most importantly, fielding was simply on a higher level.
In the first game, against a Bucks side led by former England and Surrey spinner Keith Medlycott, a crucial spell of bowling in tandem by the Welwyn Garden City pairing of Murti Hussain and Aaron Laraman was crucial.
The second, against Oxon, was decided by a blistering innings of 84 off 46 balls by Hertford's Steve Cordingley (the best of the day) and some wonderfully aggressive fielding, highlighted by a brilliant run out by Phil Carlson, also of Hertford.
And a clever, controlled 42 off 32 balls by Knebworth Park's Tom Jenkins, followed by an early burst from West Herts pace bowler Donovan Miller and Welwyn Garden City's Simon White proved too much for Beds in the final game.
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Herts started by fielding first against Bucks, who had beaten them off the last over in a one-day game two weeks previously.
Making full use of the fielding restrictions for the first six overs, Bucks raced away to 50-1.
But Lewis brought on his two senior bowlers, Laraman and Hussain, when he could set the field back and the effect was dramatic.
Laraman, bowling off a short run with keeper Jenkins standing up to the stumps, still extracted serious bounce from a length while Hussain found the the pitch was spinning nicely.
The runs dried up and wickets fell, with Laraman taking 1-11 off his four overs and Hussain 3-19.
Ben Frazer of Welwyn GC (2-23 off three) and Knebworth Park's Tony Skeggs (3-0-25-2) continued the good work as Bucks finished on 134-9.
David Ward skied a catch at 17-1 in the third over but Cordingley with 31, Frazer 27 and Rob Marshall of Sawbridgeworth with a well-paced 21no got Herts home at 136-5 with two overs to spare.
Oxon, who had beaten Beds in their first game were next up, and this time Herts batted first.
Again they lost Ward early but Cordingley, who ended the day as the tournament's leading batsman, was in imperious form. He hit especially savagely straight down the ground in his 46-ball firework display, and clubbing five sixes and seven fours in his 84 as Herts racked up an imposing 175-7.
Herts' fielding was tigerish as Oxon tried to mount a chase, with two fine run outs, including Carlson's excellent effort.
Laraman and Hussain again were too good, taking two wickets apiece, and Carlson bowled two overs for just six runs at the death as Herts cruised home with Oxon on 142-8.
And so to Beds, with retention of the title Herts won last year within touching distance.
Tiredness was setting in to all the players by this time and Herts' batting slightly lacked its earlier impact.
Jenkins marshalled the innings expertly and worked six fours in his 32-ball 42. With Frazer getting 25, Laraman 21 and Simon White finishing things off with a huge six, Herts reached 164-5.
Miller and White effectively ended any threat to Herts' title by ripping out four quick wickets. Laraman and Hussain put the strangle on, with former Stevenage all-rounder Hussain taking his seventh wicket of the day (which got him a share of the day's top bowler award) as Beds petered out to 112-8.
Herts are in confident mood as they travel to Gerrards Cross this Sunday for a three-day Championship game against Bucks, who are likely to pose a much stronger challenge this time around.