HEREFORDSHIRE’S opening NCCA Western Division 1 three-day clash concluded with honours even as the game with Dorset at Eastnor ended in a draw.

The home county were left to chase a target of 320 in a minimum of 78 overs after Dorset’s declaration at lunch on the final day, writes Richard Prime

But despite a good start, when openers Ben Chapman Lilley (49) and Josh Dell (66) posted 120 for the first wicket, and later a typically accomplished unbeaten 51 from skipper Matt Pardoe, Herefordshire were never able to score sufficiently fast to complete the chase and the home side finished on 246-5.

On the first morning, Dorset won an important toss and chose to bat first.

Although Herefordshire made early inroads, the visitors’ middle-order of Alex Eckland (65), Harry Fisher (58) and Sam Young (56) all put together substantial scores as Dorset compiled 320-9 from their 90 overs.

Jasper Davidson (4-62) and Dave Ball (3-78) shared most of the wickets while Pardoe bowled economically to return 1-29 from 18 overs.

Herefordshire’s response was dominated by Pardoe, whose 73 came from 123 balls with 10 boundaries.

But 17-year-old Ollie Walker again underlined his potential with 42 on his three-day debut and Dell (36), James Rudge (28) and Nick Hammond

(23) all made useful contributions as Herefordshire reached 276-9 before declaring with three balls of their 90 overs remaining.

Eckland (69) and Fisher (48 not out) were again central as Dorset set the target while Felix Organ also impressed with 61 from 56 balls.

In addition to his runs, all-rounder Organ, had a busy match, bowling 34.3 overs to bag 5-113 in the first Herefordshire innings and a further 34.5 overs to return 2-89 second time around.

Rudge (3-89), Ball (2-51) and Zak Abbas (2-42) were the successful bowlers as Dorset’s second innings reached 280-7 before the declaration.

Herefordshire, who picked up nine points to their opponents’ 11, are again in action this weekend when they travel to Thame to take on reigning champions Oxfordshire.