Rain dampens Hertford’s hopes
The game against the bottom club, Langleybury, was a ‘must win’ match but after a glorious cricket week the weather has reverted back to the 2012 summer norm and Saturday was no exception.
The match started on time but the players were back in the pavilion after eleven minutes. The Hertford team were very wet having had to put on the full covers in a downpour. At this stage Langleybury, who had been put in, were 8-1 with Cliff Cavener making the early breakthrough having Ponnampalam well caught by George Pavey at mid-off. In the absence of James mead, nursing an injury, Cliff had been pressed into action as an opening bowler and he rolled back the years.
An early lunch was taken and play resumed at 2pm. The game had then been reduced from 60/50 overs to 46/37 making a prospective run chase more difficult. Cavener soon had two more batsmen back in the pavilion; Amin caught low down at slip by Chris Gale and Walker bowled. After ten overs Langleybury were 19-3, Cavener had 3+7 and Hertford were on a roll. All good things must come to an end and as Cavener naturally tired and Ollie Ray was having difficulty with his direction a recovery stand was built by James and Williams. James was the more aggressive of the pair as they added 101 for the 4th wicket before he tried to hit Richard Cordingley out of the ground only to find the safe hands of Steve Gale. He had made 59. Rain then returned and a further seventeen minutes were lost with the consequent reduction of the game to 43/35 overs. On the resumption, Langleybury had nine overs left to set a challenging score. The total was pushed up to 180-7 when their time ran out. The outfield was not the usual lightning-fast for Balls Park, the rain had seen to that and Hertford had to score at five an over to gain the victory they needed.
O’Reilly, the Langleybury skipper went on the defensive from the word go with four on the boundary and regular field changes to ensure that extra overs would not be available. Coupled with a slow outfield boundaries were hard to come by and, after one four to square leg, Will Ray’s next sixteen scoring shots were singles. Steve Gale chanced his arm but shortly after clearing the mid-wicket boundary he was bowled for 35 by Martin attempting another big hit. Hertford were then 61-1 off 14 overs, 120 needed off 21 overs. This should have been a simple task. Unfortunately Ollie Ray, Hertford’s leading run scorer this season, could not fathom the spin of Martin and was soon bowled. Gus Joyce is normally an attacking batsman but he too found scoring difficult and he lost partner Will Ray for 36 when he attempted a more aggressive shot, only to hit it straight to the hands of Paul O’Reilly at mid-wicket. When Joyce was caught off Martin in the 26th over Hertford still needed 82 runs but had just nine overs left. Scott Ruskin and Will Bancroft signalled Hertford’s intent with a series of defensive strokes and O’Reilly, sensing at least some more bowling points changed tactics and went on the attack. When the 35th over arrived, there was still time for extra overs and Ruskin opted to demonstrate what he really thought of the bowling and waste a bit of time by hitting the ball out of the ground. He hit Martin for a six and two fours before lashing one back within reach of the bowler to give Martin some revenge. Cavener came to the wicket and hit a rapid 14 as Hertford finished on 140-6.
Seven points for Hertford, 11 for Langleybury was not a split Hertford liked and the result leaves them on 131 points. The others in the bottom four are Stevenage with 132, Letchworth 128 and Langleybury on 125. Next week Hertford go to Sawbridgeworth who are lying third; Stevenage host North Mymms, the runaway league leaders, and Langleybury and Letchworth meet at the former’s ground for another critical game.