Hertford 4th XI Win Thriller Against WGC by 1 Run
By Will Ray
Nick was clearly told not to return to dressing room unless we were batting, he was allowed back. Dave Benham then signalled his full confidence in the batting and wandered up to the top ground with no batting kit in his beach wear.
He was forced to reconsider when Steve Page got a good one first ball and trudged back to contemplate the rest of his day in the blazing heat. Springy and Nick then rebuilt the innings and tucked into some wayward bowling. At the 20 overs mark Hertford were comfortable at 110 for 1 with Nick bringing up his 50 in the 17th over and then Springy decided it was time to cut loose and hit 15 off one over. After Nick was bowled by a yorker, Flynn and Springy consolidated but found it hard going with tight bowling in the heat. Both found it difficult to pierce the ring but Flynn showed he has the temperament and technique for batting, the rest will come with time and experience. Flynn’s departure brought Rich Eaton to the crease with 10 overs left and Hertford‘s innings was going to plan: unleashing him on a tiring attack in the blazing sun. He did not disappoint and with some brutal hitting took the final Hertford total to 216 for 7 in 45 overs.
The general feeling was this was a competitive total but little under par on a good wicket with small boundaries. Finally a shout out to Dave Spring who was as dependable as ever in anchoring the Hertford innings. At an age when most people would be proud to just get on the field it is much his credit that he batted for over 2/3 of the Hertford innings for 72 runs in brutal heat and did not shirk any running.
Welwyn Garden City’s (WGC) reply mirrored that of Hertford. The top order batting dominated on a blameless wicket. The opening bowlers of Matt and Flynn found they had very little margin for error anything slightly loose was punished and they did well to keep the score to 44 for 0 off first 11 overs. Nick tried to use Ravi to break the partnership but this did not work against two set batsmen, but his moment was to come, more on that later.
Nick then turned to Dave Benham and Ugen to supply some control over the innings and bowl to fields that cut off the boundaries and made the batsmen run in the heat. However, WGC were 98 for 0 in the 20th over, similar to Hertford when Nick asked Dave for one more over and he responded with “yes, it's now or never”. It was now! Hertford claimed their first wicket when a tired batsman chipped to mid-on. Somehow just “one more” turned into Dave Benham bowling his 9 overs unbroken, a phenomenal effort in the heat and finished with 1 for 30. Meanwhile also bowling unbroken was off-spinner Ugen who after Dave had broken the opening partnership worked his way through the middle order of 3 and 4. Angus Kildare’s seasonal luck finally changed when his first ball was again chipped to mid-on and then he drew a tired shot out the WGC’s captain and opening batsman who scored 70 off 37 overs. We all realised that was the key wicket and we had a chance only for the WGC No.6 to start to blast the ball round the park.
He was clearly settled with seam bowling, so Nick decided to pose a different question and asked leg-spinner Ravi if he was comfortable bowling at the death and much to his credit considering his opening spell experience got very definitive “yes”. Says much for his character that he was willing to take on that responsibility and then proved his point by bowling 2.1 overs 2 for 7. He took the last wicket in the last over: George and Angus momentarily looked at each other as ball went skyward before gloveman George decided to claim it. Hertford then lost the plot for a second upon realising they had won a game which when the oppo has been 200 for 5 in 40th over chasing 216. Nick then came to his senses and saw the last batsman on his haunches; face in the dirt: distraught, he still feels a little disappointed no paparazzi to capture his “Freddie” moment…
This report would not be complete without a shout out firstly to the team’s fielding (we took our catches and ran down everything, even Steve Page showing off his new bionic powers after a spine fusion op.) and secondly to the U14s of Flynn, Matt and Ravi who all bowled at the death with great effect, determination; and support for each other. It was great to see them celebrating each other’s successes as they all took wickets at key moments; and lastly to the team as a whole for never giving up, all the small 1%s add up in the final analysis, especially when we win a game by 1 run.