Herts claim semi-final spot after Devon thriller

Ballard hundred and whirlwind Walker innings seal Herts progression

MCCA Trophy quarter-final

Hertfordshire 287-6 Devon 278

Herts won by nine runs

HERTFORDSHIRE booked themselves a place in the MCCA Trophy semi-finals after a thrilling victory over Devon in Sidmouth.

Sunday’s game proved a tense affair with the game going down to the last over only for Welwyn Garden City all-rounder Nick Walker to take the final wicket with just five balls remaining to seal a nine-run victory for the county.

It was the perfect ending to a day that had started well for Herts courtesy of opener Eddie Ballard’s unbeaten 113.

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Having won the toss and chosen to bat Herts made a steady start despite the dismissals of Jamie Hewitt (19) and Harpenden captain Nick Lamb (11).

Ballard and his Bishop’s Stortford teammate Dan Blacktopp (57) pushed on with a partnership of 113 but the quick dismissals of Blacktopp, Harpenden’s Ben Frazer (8) and skipper Andy Lewis (1) threatened to disrupt the county’s progress.

Those fears were allayed thanks to a whirlwind innings from Walker. Arriving at the crease with the scoreboard showing Herts 179-5 he departed just18 balls later having smashed 40 including three 4s and four 6s. In the final reckoning, Walker’s innings was to prove vital.

Ballard carried his bat and alongside Jamie Southgate guided Herts to 287-6 from their 50 overs.

Devon’s reply started in positive fashion with a 78-run opening stand before Robert Woodman (41) was bowled by Hewitt.

All of Devon’s top six made good contributions to the hosts’ cause to frustrate Herts but Harpenden’s Lamb (3-55) got rid of Burke (50), Dawson (35), Bess (30) while his clubmate Frazer picked up the scalp of Lye (31).

With the bulk of Devon’s run scorers back in the pavilion it was left to Herts’ opening attack of Will Rudge (3-37) and Walker (2-55) to return to clean up the tail and secure Herts’ progression to the semi-finals.

Herts are back in action this Sunday when they begin their three-day Championship game with Staffordshire at Hem Heath CC.