Ed Middleton - useful runs down the order<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe

DEVON are not out of the running for a place in the National Counties Cup quarter-finals despite a three-wicket defeat by Hertfordshire in their latest group game, writes Conrad Sutcliffe

Hertfordshire dismissed Devon for 149 in the 44th of their 50 overs and knocked off the runs after a struggle.

In a five-team group where only Berkshire have won more than one game, Devon are one of four sides level on two points each behind the leaders and cup holders.

Dave Tall, the Devon team boss, said if Berkshire win their remaining two games the others will be scrabbling for the second qualifying spot.

“Berkshire have to win all their games for this to work, unless it rains of course the all bets will be off,” said Tall.

“Although we only have one game left, winning that could still be enough for us to go through with four points.

“We could be in a situation where we play Cornwall in our last game in two weeks and by beating them finish on four points. Then it will come down to who has the best net run rate.”

Devon’s frontline batters underperformed in a big way at Hertford, where opener Sam Read’s 19 was as good as it got in a running total of 66 for seven.

The bulk of the damage was done by J N Mehta, whose five-wicket haul included Calum Haggett, Zak Bess and James Horler in the space of nine balls.

Devon were spared a total collapse by eighth-wicket pair Adam Small (23) and Ed Middleton, who was the last man out for a Devon best score of 46. He faced 80 balls and hit six fours.

Devon appeared on course for a routine defeat when Hertfordshire were 71 for two in reply, but it was a different story when the scoreboard read 106 for five then 126 for seven.

Paceman Dan Goodey did most of the damage with a four-wicket burst that rocked Hertfordshire back in their heels.

The wicket Devon wanted belonged to Kishan Velani, the former Essex and England under-19 batsman, and he was in no mood to give it up. His unbeaten 58 in nearly two hours at the crease saw Hertfordshire to victory.

Haggett (2-24) and Jonty Walliker (0-17) all played a part in making Hertfordshire work hard for their win.

Tall said the second half of the game showed Devon close to their best, which they needed to be after a poor batting display.

“It was an interesting wicket and was still doing a fair bit to keep the bowlers interested when we bowled on it,” said Tall.

“It was not a 150-all out wicket though and we should never have been in a situation where we were 66 for seven.

“Ed Middleton and Adam Small batted sensibly to give us some sort of chance, admittedly an outside one.

“The fight we showed in the second innings showed to me the strides we are making as a team.

“And hats off to Dan Goodey for giving it his all and taking four wickets despite not being fully fit. He could have had a couple more and that would have made it interesting.”

Devon 149 (E W O Middleton  46, A J Small 23; J N Mehta 5-30, K S Velani 2-20), Hertfordshire 150-7 (K S Valani 58no, D J Goodey 4-48, C J Hagget 2-24). Hertfordshire (2pts) bt Devon (0) by 3 wkts.