On a dry but used wicket, Hertford’s Scott Ruskin won the toss and elected to bat first. This week Hertford welcomed back Jamie Riddle to the top of the order following his recovery from a hamstring injury. Riddle and Will Ray were opening the batting against a formidable seam attack led by 20 year old New Zealander, Nathan Smith. After a circumspect first few overs, scoring began to become easier as Ray and Riddle traded boundaries against the opening pair of Smith and Joe Cooke - both of whom had helped Radlett bowl Luton out for 52 the week before.
Hertford’s brittle top order were, however, about to be exposed yet again when 1st change bowler Randeep Sanghera got the break through with his first delivery. The tall seamer immediately found a good line and length which he rarely left for the remainder of the afternoon, inducing the edge from Riddle (12) which was smartly snaffled behind by Tom Jenkins. In the next over, Hertford’s no. 3 George Pavey was caught when he top-edged an attempted pull which was easily caught and bowled by Joe Cooke. Then, with Radlett already buoyant, Will Ray (13) blocked a delivery from Sanghera which skipped backwards onto his leg stump, completing Hertford’s top order capitulation from 26-0 to 31-3.
The two new batsmen at the crease were the in-form Adam Carlson and vice-captain, Ben Cowell. Despite offering up a couple of difficult chances to the slip cordon, Carlson looked well-organised again against a merciless seam attack. He and Cowell (10) had taken the score to 47 when the latter edged a full delivery from Sanghera to 3rd slip. Max Lawrence (3) then fell in almost identical fashion moments later when he too edged Sanghera to the same catcher in the slips. The wicket-taker Sanghera now had 4 of the top 5 wickers to his name.
At 55-5, the signs were ominous for Hertford who now looked to their lower order to help them to a respectable first innings total, let alone a score that would be in the slightest bit defendable. Carlson’s new partner was Rob Slater who was returning to the 1st team after a month away. The pair had taken the score to 68 when Carlson (24) was brilliantly caught by Will Wright (3rd catch) who dived forwards with one hand to catch the ball inches above the grass. What made the catch even more remarkable was the speed at which the ball was travelling – Carlson pushing hard at a full ball from the fast bowling of Smith.
Hertford would be about to enjoy their first and only partnership of the match after Slater (8) was c&b by Kabir Toor. James Leather and skipper Scott Ruskin batted with the resolve and application which was absent from those that had perished before. Under the burning sun, Ruskin and Leather admirably repelled Radlett’s increasingly weary bowling attack. Their 36 partnership was unfortunately broken when Ruskin (19 from 81) was caught at 1st slip off of the bowling of Zareef who had managed to extract some bounce from the used pitch. From here, the innings somewhat capitulated as Hertford’s 10 and 11 both fell without scoring. This left Leather stranded on 30* from 106 balls; a fantastic effort yet again from Hertford’s talismanic all-rounder. Hertford’s innings closed on 127 all out from 53 overs which would, barring any miracles, not pose a problem for Radlett’s well-balanced side.
Despite a spirited effort in the heat from Hertford, Radlett would go on to chase the total with all 10 wickets in hand. There were bowling performances of note from Leather (5 overs for 21); Ruskin (4 overs for 12); and Carlson; but it was clear from an early stage that Radlett would never be phased by their low target. Will Wright ended up on 54* and Chris Arul made 72* from just 68 balls – the latter started slowly but then finished the game off emphatically, scoring freely against any bowler he faced.
After the disappointment of the last 3 weeks (1 close loss followed by 2 heavy defeats), Hertford now sit 3rd bottom in the premier league table. Next weekend they welcome 2nd bottom side Bishops Stortford to Balls Park in what looks like a vital clash, even at this relatively early stage of the season.