Hertford 1s hang-on for a draw against Harpenden
Hertford 1s hang-on for a draw with the bat against Harpenden after letting it slip with the ball in last 4 overs.
Following 2 successive wash-outs and with rain forecast again there was a slight sense of deja-vu as Hertford were scheduled to take on Harpenden at Balls Park. However this pessimism proved to be unwarranted as the game was largely uninterrupted, barring 1 short rain break, and the match played out to its conclusion.
Hertford won the toss, and knowing that the forecast rain and a long Harpenden batting line-up would be an impediment to achieving victory if batting first, elected to bowl. Harpenden, also aware that the game may be shortened came out of the blocks the quicker of the two teams and raced away at 8 an over. Hertford held their nerve through this early onslaught and were rewarded with the early wicket of Frazer, for a brisk 23, well caught by Ben Cowell, standing up to the bowling of Andrew Knight.
With Frazer gone, Hertford were able to exert some control over the scoring rate, with some particularly tidy bowling from Knight. The Harpenden pair of Cooper and Illangeratne built steadily, offering no chances, and their progress was only halted by a rain shower which brought an early lunch. With Knight and Ryan bowling without luck after Lunch, captain Richard Leather turned to himself to break the partnership, and this proved to be a fruitful decision as he quickly removed Illangeratne, edging a swinging ball through to Cowell for 30. With no further runs added to the score, he was soon followed back to the pavillion by Cooper as Ryan got the ball to spin from outside the leg stump to bowl him behind his legs, for a well made 68. Harpenden were now 138-3 and with 2 new batsmen at the crease Hertford hoped to swing the momentum of the match.
Of the two new men, it was Latham who found his feet immediately, picking up a few early boundaries. Leather then managed to induce another edge behind to Cowell, to remove Australian Clements, giving Cowell his 3rd victim of the day. With a solid platform and plenty of batting to come Harpenden started to shift through the gears. Leather remained threatening and was rewarded for this with the wicket of Reagan, who tamely chipped the ball to mid-wicket. The new man Axon showed some intent, however he proceeded to play one shot too many and dragged the ball onto his stumps off the bowling of Leather. Latham had passed 50 and was also looking to push on, but in what was becoming a familiar story edged Leather behind to Cowell, completing a well-deserved 5 wicket haul for Leather. Harpenden were now 233-7 and their innings was perhaps in the balance.
Things could have gotten better for Hertford and Leather but an easy catch at point was put down, giving Scott Galloway a second life. Galloway made Hertford pay for this mistake and struck a blistering 62 from 23 balls, doing particular damage off a Slater over. Harpenden ended their innings on 306-7, an imposing target for Hertford.
Hertford started their innings solidly with the in-form Will Ray and Ian Harris looking to replicate their performance of the previous week. This was not to be as Harris saw a ball deflect off both his bat and leg before rolling onto the stumps, leaving Hertford 26-1. The returning Steve Cordingley looked assured in his first game for close to a decade and with Ray took Hertford to 45-1 at the Tea break. The break did Hertford no favours as Ray was adjudged LBW in the first over after the break. Leather and Cordingley were able to score relatively fluently, however the required rate was soon around 7 an over. As Hertford looked to push on in Cordingley miscued a full toss to mid-on and departed for 23. Hertford were now 85-3 and in need of a big innings to push them close to the required target. Harpenden sensed an opportunity and quickly removed King, Leather and Cowell to leave Hertford reeling. When James Leather was unfortunately given out caught behind leaving Hertford 96-7 all realistic possibility of reaching the target had gone. Attention therefore turned to batting out their overs and denying Harpenden victory.
Slater and Carlson looked assured from the start, and without the pressure of scoring at 8 an over found batting to be relatively straightforward on a good Hertford wicket. Harpenden increased their over rate, running through overs in an attempt to maximise the number of deliveries bowled. With the last hour coming to a close they were finally able to remove Slater for a resilient 29, however Carlson continued to be a thorn in their side and completed an excellent 50 which saw Hertford to the close, finishing on 185-8.
Both sides were left frustrated; Harpenden that they had not been able to take the final 2 wickets having got themselves into an excellent position to win the game, Hertford that they had gifted Harpenden so many runs in the final 4 overs of their innings, allowing them to almost put the game beyond Hertford.
by Richard Leather