Hertford 2ndXI Cruise to Third Victory
By Will Ray
Hertford 2ndXI made the long-distance voyage across the border into Bedfordshire in an encounter with Flitwick 2ndXI at their picturesque ground. Full of confidence after their two opening wins Hertford made the audacious decision to bowl first on a dry p
Hertford’s opening bowlers hit the right areas immediately, with Dan Orchard coming down the hill and Tony Rhodes battling up it, they gave the Flitwick batsman nothing to hit and threatened the stumps and the outside edge with horrendous regularity. After 14 overs Flitwick were only on 24 and had lost two wickets courtesy of Orchard including one fine catch from Lyte behind the stumps. Rhodes was also bowling his best spell of the year and with Orchard improved yet again, for the 2’s this is starting to look like a formidable partnership that offers both threat and control at the same time.
When Dan’s ECB-restricted spell came to a close the pressure didn’t stop. Replaced by brother Tom and notwithstanding some first over fireworks from the Flitwick number 4 Malkani (26 from 37 balls), Tom settled into his rhythm and continued the good start and partnered well with Rhodes. The latter was impossibly unlucky not to get a wicket by the end of his ten overs which went for a pitiful 19 runs.
Yet again, the end of one spell brought about another bowler who was unwilling to release any pressure as Chris Thompson immediately took over from fellow-bus-pass-holder Rhodes. By now Flitwick captain and opener Phil Gurney had battled through the opening spell, lost partners regularly but was hoping to take on the bowlers and bag himself some runs at the halfway stage. However, he found himself deeply frustrated by the water-tight Hertford attack and at one point furiously labelled Thommo’s bowling as nothing but ‘boring back-spinners’ – this was a truly crushing criticism from a batsman that was oozing attacking prowess (Gurney 46 from 127 balls).
Thommo was undeterred by such slander and removed Malkani resulting in a tumble of wickets and the complete subsidence of the Flitwick middle order, all largely at the over-sized-hands of Orchard (4-37) and supported by Thommo whose unrelenting control saw him go for only 16 runs in his ten. Leg-spin-twins Carlson and Golder were then brought on towards the end to finish the innings and despite some small resistance from Patemen (20) they did just that with 3 wickets apiece, leaving Flitwick all out for 122 from 46 overs.
It was now Hertford’s turn to bat in what should, in theory, be a simple enough run chase – after Chandler had hit a substantial 6 and a 4 in the opening overs and Pavey too had opened his account fluently it certainly seemed that way. Chandler however, sensing the disappointment of the neutral crowd decided to chip one tamely to extra-cover and instead sit on the terrace with a pint. Golder resolved that after a couple of classy shots he too would respect the wishes of the cricket-neutral and surrendered to a straight ball.
Pavey however, was selfishly thinking about his own lack of form and not about the long-term future of amateur cricket across Great Britain, and so continued to block good balls and hit bad ones. This wasn’t enough for partner Carlson however, and so the pair decided to embark on 45 minutes of chaotic and sometimes suicidal running. The result of this was a dishevelled Flitwick team, a partnership worth 88 runs and Carlson constantly mentioning how sick he felt and thus bringing into question everything he has ever said about his devotion to fitness.
This partnership all but sealed the game for Hertford – Carlson fell when only five more runs were needed so that he could have a sit down before he had to shake hands with the opposition. Dawson walked to the crease to give the last rites to Flitwick, and he did so in emphatic style; …by pathetically chipping a leading edge over mid-offs head and so concluded the run chase with Pavey not out on 55; a welcome return to some runs, and 7 wickets and 25 overs still to spare as a team.
A solid all-round performance that was established by a great display of opening bowling by Orchard and Rhodes, and completed with some solid batting. Hertford entertain a young Redbourn team next week who, like Hertford, have won 3 from 3 so it promises to be a great test. Also, a quick note of thanks to Flitwick for their hospitality; great tea, a jug of beer and a good chat afterwards – it’s a place that’s certainly worth the slightly longer journey!