Enforced changes for Bedfordshire as they target win to stay in title hunt

If Bedfordshire are to lift themselves into the Minor Counties Championship title hunt they will need to beat Hertfordshire in the three-day game starting at Bedford School on Sunday.

The county have shown much improved form this season, but all three games have ended in high-scoring draws.

A stack of bonus points though means they currently lie fifth in the table, 21 points behind Suffolk and 19 adrift of second-placed Hertfordshire.

A win this weekend and Bedfordshire will be very much in the race. However, defeat, or even another draw, is likely to leave them with too much to do in the last two matches.

“We have played some positive cricket this season which has been good to watch,” said chairman of the selectors Mike Archer.

“We have missed out on only one batting point – a remarkable change-around when you think that for the last three years batting for 90 overs in the first innings has proved a real challenge.

“Unfortunately some captains these days don’t seem prepared to take the slightest risk and we have been set some ridiculous targets to chase in the final innings.”

In the last game at Newcastle, Northumberland asked Bedfordshire to score 470 in 80 overs. Jesmond is a small ground, but to score at six an over for such a long period of time was virtually impossible.

By batting on for so long in their second innings Northumberland also robbed themselves of the chance of victory.

Had they pulled out 60 runs sooner, Northumberland would certainly have won. As it was, Bedfordshire were able to hang on for a draw on 283-9.

The side to play Hertfordshire has yet to be finalised but Bedfordshire will definitely be without the unavailable Alex Martin, who has made a real impact this season both as wicketkeeper and batsman.

Martin has been batting at number three and the selectors have to decide whether to bring in another specialist keeper or ask George Thurstance to take the gloves and go for another batsman.

Bedfordshire are also waiting to hear whether Cameron Wake, who made a successful return to the side against Northumberland after a break of several seasons, is available.

Young quick bowler Afaq Babar could also come into contention if he has recovered from injury.

Bedfordshire are back at Bedford School after a three-season absence and play starts at 11 am on all three days and, if the weather holds, the county are hoping for a big crowd on Sunday for President’s Day.