HEREFORDSHIRE remain top of their group in the National Counties 50-over competition after a conclusive success over Wiltshire in a rain-affected encounter at Warminster.

With overnight rain lingering on into the morning, players and spectators had a long wait to see any action with play finally getting underway in a 19-overs-a-side match at 4.45pm.

Herefordshire skipper Matt Pardoe won an important toss and invited the hosts to bat first.

But Wiltshire made a flying start with 26 on the board after the first two overs.

Will Naish was then caught behind by Ian Bullock off Tom Hage (1-13) and Herefordshire began to establish control.

Barney Morgan (2-28) and, especially, leg-spinner Alex Russell, who conceded just 21 in his four overs as well as picking up a wicket, did well to keep the home county in check.

Pardoe also chipped in, conceding just nine runs from his first two overs before a late flourish saw his final one go for 19 as Wiltshire rounded off their innings on 140-6.

The Herefordshire skipper was quick to regain the initiative, however, as he launched the county’s reply in rapid style.

He smashed three successive sixes from the hapless Matthew Burton in dominating an opening stand of 43 with Conor Smith (nine).

And the stroke-making continued as Pardoe powered to an impressive half-century from only 30 balls with four fours to add to the three maximums.

Although the skipper departed soon after reaching his landmark, there was no let-up for Wiltshire as Nick Hammond, who had top-scored in Herefordshire’s previous two games, made it three out of three with an excellent unbeaten 54.

With Zain ul Hassan contributing 21 not out, Herefordshire reached their target with more than four overs to spare.

“It was an excellent win and well worth the long wait to get some action in,” said Herefordshire coach Richard Skyrme.

“We now have a great opportunity to make it through to the knock-out stages of the competition.”

Herefordshire round off their group games by entertaining Dorset at Brockhampton on Sunday.