Hertford welcome the MCC to Balls Park - Match report
By Will Ray
Hertford take on MCC side containing former Hertford players in nail-biting encounter - the 1st of many!
Hertford CC's Cricket Week is filled with great fixtures. This year, perhaps the most exciting fixture, both on paper and in result was played on the Thursday, as Hertford entertained the MCC in what is hoped to be the first of many of these prestigious encounters. Boasting former Hertford players amongst their ranks the MCC brought a strong and experienced side to Balls Park, and in keeping with tradition were asked to bat first in a declaration game.
With the MCC seeking to establish a solid platform so that they could position themselves to post a total and set up an intriguing chase for the Hertford batsman, they were kept under control initially by some tight bowling from openers Orchard and Slater and also the odd rain break.
As they looked top push on their scoring rate, Hertford were able to make the first break through as Richard Leather managed to beat the defences of Holgate with a ball that nipped back sharply to knock back the off-stump, leaving the MCC 53-1. Leather proceeded to cause further problems for the MCC batsmen, beating the outside edge and seeing a number of balls evading fielders, that on other days, may easily have gone to hand. On the stroke of lunch, Leather got his rewards as this time opener Soulsby edged to first slip, where a low catch was smartly taken, to depart for a well made 64.
In the post lunch session, chances were harder to come by, and the batsman were able to build steadily. Former Hertford cricketer Tom Bancroft played a particularly fluent innings, including a dismissive six, straight back over the returning Slater's head, before being caught on the boundary off the bowling of King for an impressive 53.
At the other end, Oxley battled stubbornly before he was removed by the part-time bowling of Harris. Davis was the final wicket to fall before the MCC called an end to their innings having passed the 250 mark. This would leave Hertford around 45 overs to chase 253 to win.
The reply got off to the worst possible start as Laraman removed Will Ray in the first over for 0. Harris and King got the scoreboard moving, King surviving an outstanding catch from MCC keeper Soulsby as the umpire called a no-ball off the bowling of Davis. Harris eventually fell to a smart slip catch for only 14, with Laraman claiming his second victim.
King was joined by Barker and they took the score to 64 before King fell LBW to Skeggs, having survived an incredibly close call the previous ball. Barker followed not long after leaving Richard Leather and Ben Cowell to get the innings back on track, whilst attempting to maintain the required rate of around 6 an over. Cowell played expansively for his 34, before being removed by Laraman as he re-entered the attack.
Pavey, James Leather and Slater all came and went without meaningful contribution, leaving Hertford's hopes hanging by the thread, with the score 164-8. Richard Leather had passed his 50 by this point and decided that a positive approach was required if Hertford were to get close to their target. Finding the boundary with relative consistency, and taking advantage of a spread field, Leather and Orchard added useful runs to take the score to 193 before Orchard was removed.
Leather continued to attack and found surprising support from Adam Carlson who looked extremely solid as th,e MCC also brought back Davis to try and close out the game. Leather's willingness to allow Carlson the strike was repaid as Carlson confidently stroked his way to 25 and Leather approached his century. With just 2 overs remaining and the game going down to the wire, it was Leather who was unfortunately beaten by an impressive yorker from Davis for a well made 92, to end the game and leave Hertford just short of their target on 241.
Scorecard here >