4th XI Beaten Away to Hemel Hempstead
By Will Ray
After taking the wrong turn at Hemel’s magic round-about and subsequent tour of the local housing estates we arrived to find a good, newly laid wicket and then Nick won the toss.
Difficult decision – as a batsman all instincts were to bat first but with only two senior specialist batsmen Nick took to less risky route of bowling first.
The wicket behaved as good as it looked, and the Hemel batsmen looking untroubled in seeing off Hertford’s opening bowling of Charles Dower and Matt Ahl, who both bowled well in batsman friendly conditions. Nick then threw the ball to the in-form Dave Benham, who as usual, found swing and movement, but this was the day when the half-chances would just not go to hand. We have had a few days when everything went “in the bread basket” so no complaints when lady luck evens itself out.
There were many positives in the day, and one was turning to Ugen Gounder to take the pace off the ball. He bowled off-spin with intelligence and guile to, along with Dave, put a much needed break on the Hemel innings. He very quickly worked the batsman’s strengths and changed his angles of attack, A very welcome spin option to the team. However at drinks (23 overs) Hemel were over 100 for 0 and Hertford were potentially staring down the barrel.
It is to everyone’s credit that Hemel finished their innings on 205 for3 off 45 overs. Despite obvious intent, we simply did not allow them to accelerate away. A combination of the death bowlers, Charles and Matt, bowling to a plan and field setting and then backed up with good fielding frustrated the Hemel batsmen. A special mention to Matt as this was the first time he has been asked to bowl with the oppo in such position of strength and he responded well and even nipped out the set batsman.
The Hertford reply started badly as Nick managed to under edge a bouncer onto his off stump bail (it broke in two!) after hitting the previous two for 4. That brought Yakub Pickering to the wicket in the second over and he showed has the technique and natural talent to be an opening batsmen and did all the hard work, including hitting a sublime 4 off his hips for 4 (all timing) only to run himself out.
Indeed it was clear that the u14s batsman of Jakub, George and Isaac all took a big step up the development curve on Saturday, they all played themselves in, starting pushing the ball around and then hit boundaries with time to spare. It was a shame that the hard work was undermined with some needless run outs. That is the next rung on the development ladder, so…. no skipping Thursday night training lads!
Nick said to the team before that everyone is a batsmen today, a 20 from all of us and we will win. We came close, in fact with 10 overs left we needed 5 an over with 4 wickets in hand but simply ran out of batsmen. Springy was dependable as ever to anchor the innings and Ugen completed “a good all round day at the office” with a breezy 36. We ended up 40 runs short but lots of positives to take away from the day.