HEREFORDSHIRE failed to recover from losing a cascade of early wickets as they crashed to a nine-wicket defeat in their NCCA 50-over competition group opener against Norfolk at Sprowston.

Herefordshire saw their first four wickets go down for only 39 runs in warm sunny conditions in the outskirts of Norwich and it was an uphill battle all day after that.

After losing the toss and being invited to bat, Herefordshire lost openers Ben Chapman-Lilley and Jujhar Johal with only 10 on the board with Nick Hammond following shortly afterwards.

Skipper Matt Pardoe looked untroubled on his way to 23 but was then caught at point to leave the middle order exposed.

Ollie Walker (37) and Luke Tulacz (33) responded well to the challenge as they rebuilt the innings with a stand of 71 for the fifth wicket.

When they both departed in quick succession, Imaad Mahmoud (20) joined Luke Powell (24) in carrying the score forward.

But the return of Callum Metcalf, who had done much of the early damage, saw Herefordshire’s innings come to a rapid conclusion on 157, with the seamer finishing with 5-18.

When the home side responded, skipper Sam Arthurton (67 not out) and his opening partner Ethan Metcalf (65) found few of the perils experienced by their Herefordshire counterparts and it was something of a surprise when Mahmoud (1-35) trapped Metcalf leg-before after the opening stand had reached 130.

There were no further alarms after that, however, as Herefordshire succumbed to a nine-wicket loss, their second worst defeat in the competition.

The match concluded before Sunday’s rain showers began. However, Herefordshire’s development side were not so fortunate as their match against Worcester University on Monday was abandoned.

Next weekend, Herefordshire are back in T20 action when they head for Barrow-in-Furness to take on Cumbria and Lincolnshire in their three-way Super 12s contest.