Triumphant Herts return for Blacktopp

Dan Blacktopp batting for Harpenden.

Dan Blacktopp batting for Harpenden. - Credit: Archant

Harpenden batsmen didn’t feature in last season’s minor counties fixtures

Dan Blacktopp, back in the Hertfordshire side after a year out, repaid the faith shown in him with an unbeaten 40 in the county’s five-wicket win over Norfolk in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

The Harpenden right-hander, in at number five, scored 30 runs in a match-winning partnership of 90 with club-mate Ben Frazer as Herts chased down Norfolk’s 247-8 to win their opening match of the season.

Norfolk started the one-day match in impressive fashion with James Spelman (68) seeing off the opening attack.

He found little help from the top of the order as Ben France (14) and Sam Arthurton (18) provided little resistance. Herts’ bowlers, on the other hand, were in a very charitable mood, giving up 29 runs in extras during the innings.

Gary Park faced six balls before being rapped on the pads by Jamie Southgate for a duck, bringing the dangerous Harry Bush to the crease. Spelman finally found a willing partner and the pair scored 44 runs for the fourth wicket.

Herts’ vice-captain Nick Lamb removed talisman Spelman, caught by Jayaratnam, and followed up with Bush’s wicket in the 42nd over as Norfolk reached 195-6.

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Chris Brown (23*) and Ashley Watson (20) ran up the score with late order hitting but Frazer, Herts’ top wicket taker with three, kept the score down to a competitive, but not worrying, 247-8.

Herts skipper Nasan Jayaratnam and Bishop’s Stortford’s Eddie Ballard opened the reply and, in 74 minutes at the crease, frustrated Norfolk’s bowlers on their way to a century for the first wicket.

The first four wickets fell in the space of 10 overs as Watson cleaned up Ballard (37), George Scott (2) and Southgate (16) and Bush got in on the act by having Jayaratnam caught to leave Herts reeling at 133-4.

That’s when Frazer (53*) joined Blacktopp in the middle and, over the next 50 minutes at the crease, they took the game away from Norfolk and handed Herts a five-wicket victory.