TWO and a half days of hard work and excellent cricket ended with Herts suffering a seriously disappointing defeat at Bishop s Stortford on Tuesday. Andy Lewis team had toiled hard and well all the way since losing the toss on Sunday morning to reach a p
TWO and a half days of hard work and excellent cricket ended with Herts suffering a seriously disappointing defeat at Bishop's Stortford on Tuesday.
Andy Lewis' team had toiled hard and well all the way since losing the toss on Sunday morning to reach a point where they had a fourth-innings run chase of 331 in a minimum of 69 overs at lunch on the third day.
But from the moment when pinch-hitting opener, Hertford's Phil Carslon, lofted a catch to mid-off in the third over, the innings went badly awry in the face of some high-quality swing bowling, and Herts were bowled out 11 overs short of safety.
Northumberland batted first and former Yorkshire batsman Bradley Parker, hit a brisk 60.
But Herts, for whom the Welwyn Garden City off-spinner Ben Frazer turned in a fine spell of 29 overs to take 4-86, worked their way through the middle and lower order before a flurry of strokes towards the end of the 90-over innings took Northumberland to 328-8.
Herts' reply was hugely impressive. Steve Cordingley, the Hertford opener, continued his hottest of hot streaks with some sumptuous drives and Nick Lamb, the Welwyn Garden City all-rounder was calm and authoritative at the other end as Herts reached the end of day one on 104-0.
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Cordingley fell early on the second morning for a fine 68, but then Lewis joined Lamb and simply continued in the same vein. The pair put on 150, with Lewis making 74 off 114 balls with 10 fours and three sixes. Lamb registered his maiden hundred before falling to a tired pull-shot for 117 off 234 balls, including 15 fours.
Herts clocked up maximum batting points at 325-3 in the 78th over, thanks to David Ward hitting three successive sixes, at which point Lewis made a bold and positive declaration, trying to set up a run chase on the last day.
Aaron Laraman, the Welwyn Garden all-rounder, took three quick wickets as Northumberland slumped to 20-3. A major partnership of 190 between Parker and Ian Pattison threatened to take the initiative away, but Pattison fell for 109 just before the close of day two, and Parker for 76 at the start of day three to swing things back Herts' way once more.
With Laraman taking 4-53 and Frazer 3-99 Herts again worked their way through the Northumberland line up to dismiss them for 327 with Herts thinking that if they batted sensibly and professionally, victory should be theirs.
Carlson was followed by the first innings hero, Lamb, who was beaten and bowled by a beautiful outswinger. Lewis chipped to midwicket, and another outswinger found the edge of David Ward's bat to leave Herts reeling at 51-4. That became 52-5 when Frazer edged behind. Cordingley again looked in excellent form and staged something of a recovery with Laraman. That was ended when Laraman was deceived by a ball which nipped back to bowl him. Tom Jenkins, the Knebworth Park wicket-keeper joined Cordingley and the pair reached the safety of tea on 142 with a minimum of 37 overs left to survive.
That task became mountainous three balls after the restart as Cordingley's fine innings of 59 ended when his attempted drive sliced to gully. Jenkins was joined by his Knebworth Park clubmate Tony Skeggs, and the two gave a glimpse of what could have been with an excellent partnership of 55 before Jenkins was bowled for 31. When Skeggs edged another fine outswinger behind for 41 soon afterwards the game was all but up. It finally was when Simon White was bowled with 11 overs remaining.