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Disappointing with bat and ball as county crash to defeat
12:44pm Thursday 10th July 2014 in Sport
Herefordshire CCC Minor Counties XI v Dorset CCC, Eastnor. Dan Conway is given out LBW 1428_3005 (7953665)
CHAIRMAN of selectors Ernie Morgan was left disappointed as Herefordshire crashed to their first Unicorns Championship defeat of the season against unfancied Dorset.
The south coast county lost all of their matches last season and, after going down to defeats in both of their opening games this term, were not expected to end that run against a Herefordshire side which comfortably rolled over Shropshire in their previous outing.
"We underperformed with bat and ball," admitted Morgan.
"It's very disappointing as we could have been in a good position in the table had we won this match.
"It is definitely a chance missed - we would not have not to have played too much better to have won this match."
Twenty-one wickets fell on the first day but there was little sign of the carnage to come when Herefordshire won the toss and, through Liam Gwynne, whose 44 was Herefordshire's top score of the match, and Nitesh Patel (20) posted 64 for the first wicket.
Ben Stebbings (27) and skipper Dave Exall (35) also batted usefully as Herefordshire appeared to be establishing a solid position at 140-4.
After that, however, the county side subsided in the face of some good bowling, especially from Tom Hicks (6-35), to be all out for 151.
"Hicks is a good spinner and he never seems to bowl a bad ball," acknowledged Morgan.
The home side had their own spin-king as Brad Wadlan produced another excellent spell.
The Bridgend left-armer returned 6-27 from 16 overs as Dorset were all out for 120 to give Herefordshire a 31-run advantage on first innings.
"It was a challenging pitch," said Morgan. "At Eastnor, it's normally a case of winning the toss and batting first as you don't want to be be batting fourth.
"But, this time, batting seemed to get easier with the first innings the most difficult.
"We didn't really do ourselves justice in the second innings, although there were six lbws against us, which didn't help, with batsmen caught on the back foot with the ball keeping low."
Wadlan was Herefordshire's top performed with the bat in their second innings, hitting six fours and two sixes as he raced to 42 from 34 balls.
But although Mike O'Shea (24), Stebbings (28) and Danny Cox (26 not out) all passed the 20 mark, no-one was able to go on the play the sort of big innings which would have left Dorset with a really difficult fourth-innings target.
But they nevertheless required the top score of the match to win, having to score 208 for victory.
"I still fancied us and I though that, after Brad Wadlan got six wickets in the first innings, it would just be a case of getting him on again.
"But the ball just did not seem to turn in the second innings and Ryan Scott batted very well for them.
"We fielded generally very well and the ground-fielding was outstanding but we dropped him early on and that was crucial."
Scott (77 not out) and Hicks (35 not out) guided Dorset to victory with four wickets in hand leaving Morgan searching for positives ahead of the trip to Berkshire on Sunday, July 20.
"Aside from Wadlan's bowling in the first innings, the most positive thing was the bowling of Jamie McIlroy and Will Barrett," he said.
"Barrett, in particular, bowled very quickly and they are both coming on well. Each game we play we get a little extra from them."