Monday 21st July 2014
Hertford 297 for 6 dec. (Sam Faruqi 3-65, Faisal Mir 2-54, Adam Vinson 1-54) off 56.0 overs
Southgate 300 for 6 (Kusal Mendis 171, Alvin Durgacharan 34*, Faisal Mir 28) off 53.1 overs
Southgate CC won by four wickets and retain the Hertgate Trophy
Unlike at Lords, Nobody was Caught Hooking…………
Ten days before the fixture – in which Southgate were attempting to retain the Hertgate Trophy, which was originally presented by Robert Urquhart Cole to celebrate the one hundredth meeting between the two sides in 1995 – a squad of twelve had been selected, although unlike many of the previous seasons there were no ‘cry-offs’ in the run up to the game.
Therefore, whilst Hertford were happy to accommodate Southgate playing twelve – with eleven to bat and bowl – they were not so accommodating after winning the toss, as they chose to take first use of the wicket, which in true Balls Park fashion was a ‘road’.
With two players ‘stuck in traffic’ and Jez having to swiftly leave his desk in Enfield when being advised we would not be batting as he (and we) had hoped, Southgate started with just nine men on the pitch. Suresh Kalagara and Matt Stratton took the new ball and the Hertford openers took advantage of the many gaps in the field as they scored 50 in the seven overs before we reached our full complement. Whilst, at the time, it seemed disastrous, seven an over was not too bad as the scoring rate throughout the game was five and a half an over!!
In the game’s eighth over, Ashley Sivarajah was introduced into the attack and immediately gave the captain some ‘run rate control’. Whilst he remained wicketless in the innings, he created chances – which were spilled by his team-mates – but in sixteen economical overs conceded less than four an over, whereas all of the other bowlers went for more than fives.
Two overs after the drinks break, Adam Vinson bowled Elliott King for 50, only ten runs after both Geoff Blackmore and Faisal Mir had dropped him off Ashley. Geoff, in particular was grateful, as two of his ‘drops’ in previous Hertgate Trophy games had cost the side well over two hundred and fifty runs!! After an opening stand of 86, Hertford’s no. 3, Jamie Riddle, dominated the second wicket partnership of 90, beating his partner (opener George Pavey) to fifty. However, soon after Faisal’s ‘off-spin’ convinced Jamie to play an expansive shot, and Faisal comfortably held the return chance to dismiss him for 58.
In the absence through injury of Hertford’s first team star, Western Australian, Michael Bailey, their second team Aussie, Guru Singh, strode to the wicket. He was in no mood to hang about and having been swatted for two or three boundaries, Faisal decided to dispense with his (fairly ordinary) off-spin and reverted to bowling properly. The wicket of Guru for 27, courtesy of an excellent catch by Alvin at first slip followed a maiden over, both overs having been much quicker than anything seen on the day.
At the other end Sam Faruqi was brought back for a second spell and bowled George Pavey (75) with his fourth ball. Then two overs later, Sam had Ash Abeywickrama superbly caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Matt Stratton. At that point, even though there were two relatively new batsmen at the crease, with Hertford were 249 for 5 off 49 overs – there was the extra-ordinary sight of Faisal bowling to four slips and two gullies. However, Chris Marques was not intimidated and using the numerous gaps in the field took 22 from an over to hasten the return of the spinners. After Adam Vinson safely pouched Chris Marques (46) off Sam, Hertford added just twelve runs from three overs before declaring at 297 for 6 off 56 overs.
From a Southgate perspective, the first five overs of our reply were far from ideal, as both Tom Edrich and Matt Stratton were caught behind off Guru Singh to leave us at 6 for 2. With Faisal not ready (for the second time in the day – although he claimed he was resting from the exertions of bowling!!) Suresh joined Kusal at the wicket and immediately ‘put bat to ball’, as Kusal settled in at the other end. However, when the total had reached fifty, Suresh was bowled by Guru for 22, and fortunately this time Faisal was padded up and ready to go.
During their eighteen over 103 run partnership, Faisal cleverly accumulated, whilst giving Kusal the strike whenever possible. As Kusal became more confident with the surface and his surroundings, his fluency increased and he regularly found the boundary with textbook cricket shots. When Faisal was dismissed for 28, Dan Ashley, in his first innings of the season, saw Kusal through to his maiden Southgate century. Thirty minutes later Danno was on his way back to the pavilion – and given that Hertford had spurned a number of much easier chances – he could be considered extremely unlucky to be caught and bowled by a diving Jamie Riddle for 17.
At 218 for 5 Alvin (The Finisher) Durgacharan joined Kusal at the crease with 80 needed off twelve overs. Whilst Alvin opened his account with a maximum, he was, where possible, happy to give Kusal the strike. Kusal took full advantage of the situation, quickly passing 150 before being finally caught by Guru Singh at wide mid-on for an excellent 171 – an innings which included 25 fours and 3 sixes.
At 263 for 6, Sam joined Alvin, with the side needing 35 off 35 balls. However, without fuss, or any semblance of a problem, Alvin (34*) and Sam (18*) saw Southgate home with five balls to spare to win the game by four wickets and retain the Hertgate Trophy.
Bob Cole presented ‘his’ cup to the winning captain, and the victory means that we have won the Trophy thirteen times in twenty years since 1995, having lost six games – including two that were ‘conceded’ – with a ‘no contest’ in 2004. More recently, we have won six of the seven Trophy games played in the Hertford Cricket Week.
Whilst this was a high-scoring game, it still didn’t quite match the first Hertford Cricket week fixture in 2008, where Southgate scored 357 for 4 declared and won by forty runs. Kusal Mendis batted superbly in making his maiden Southgate century, but (only just) failed to match the fixture’s top score of 183 by Sunden Dias – a fellow Sri Lankan – in the above mentioned 2008 fixture.
With six of the previous Saturday’s First XI in the side, this has become an established Southgate midweek fixture – long may this continue. Please can I say a big ‘thank you’ to all the side for playing, to Bob Cole and Geoff Burton, for umpiring and scoring, respectively, and to Martin Fletcher, who was our sole supporter. Finally, of course, we must yet again, thank the players, officials and supporters of Hertford Cricket Club for their fantastic hospitality.