1sts march on, and welcome wins for the 2s and 4s

    Match reports for Sat 28th July 2018
    Preston 1st XI v Northwood, SHCL Div 2A

Preston continued on their winning way and remain top of Saracens Herts League Div 2A thanks to a comfortable 73 run victory over Northwood.

After losing the toss Preston were surprised to be asked to bat first on a green but hard wicket that offered Northwood’s opening bowlers some sideways movement. The early loss of James Stevens saw brother Jack along with Lewis Balcombe knuckle down with the pair adding 57 runs for the 2nd wicket. The removal of Balcombe for a well-constructed 43 saw Dom Baldwin (31) join Jack and the pair batted beautifully together adding 109 runs with ease for the 3rd wicket. Baldwin’s dismissal brought Ben Hill to the crease, and he and Jack added 52 runs in quick time for the 4th wicket. Jack then completed his 2nd league century of the season, to go with one he made in the National Village Cup. He batted superbly and was finally dismissed for a high quality 125. Preston closed their innings on 273 for 6 from their allocated 50 overs.

Northwood set about their run chase in sensible fashion reaching the 20 over mark at 77 without loss. However, the introduction of slow bowlers Pete Murrell (10/0/29/2) and Dave Fleckney (10/0/35/2), who both bowled with great control, saw Preston slow the scoring rate and also pick up some vital wickets. With 15 overs to go the home side still had a chance of victory at 151 for 3 and needing 8 runs per over, but Preston skipper Max Anderson (8/0/31/3) along with man of the match Jack Stevens (2.3/0/17/3) snuffed out any chance of victory as their hosts were dismissed in the 46th over for 200.

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    Preston 2nd Xi v London Colney, SHCL Div 5A

Preston 2s improved their chances of avoiding relegation from Div 5A with a six wicket win at home to London Colney. Ash Catlin’s team will still probably require at least 3 wins from their last 5 matches to escape the drop, but an improved performance was worth the 30 points with all the team contributing.

Opposition captain Scott Hadley did not seem too phased by being inserted on a benign Preston wicket and had reached a brisk 51 from an opening stand of 79 just before drinks when a leading edge to Callum Blair at extra produced the breakthrough. Preston were able to slow the scoring rate from then on and prevent further partnerships of any great threat. Wickets were shared around (Riant 3-27, Catlin 2-26, Gallimore 2-34) and Alex Williamson marked his debut with 5 accurate overs as London Colney could muster no more than 202-9.

After Will Mercer departed for 8, unlucky to pick out a fielder off a loose delivery, Preston accumulated sensibly, keeping up with the required run rate without undue risk. Mark Smith (45) was particularly unruffled and, after a pair of 17s in their contrasting styles from Has Ashraf and Tom Chambers, skipper Catlin joined him to put on 51 for the fourth wicket. Sensible shot selection and running between the wickets from Smith pushed him close to a maiden 2nd XI fifty but a smart catch at cover brought Callum Blair to his wicket with 70 required from the last 13 overs. Only 10 of them were needed though as boundaries became more regular and bowlers more frustrated, Blair’s 35* taking just 28 balls and partnering the ever-dependable Catlin (52*, peppering the off-side gaps) to a deserved victory.

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    Preston 3rd XI v Abbots Langley 3rd XI, SHCL Div 9B

With only 4 players available on Tuesday night, Swampy did remarkably well to get a side out for the 3rds fixture with lowly Abbots Langley. Once again Matt Burleigh stood in as captain, and once again he won a toss he’d have preferred to lose after inspecting one of the driest wickets he’d ever seen. Bat was the decision, and the first ball went for four to settle nerves. But soon Martin Pierce walked for a caught behind, setting a tone of good sportsmanship from both sides for the afternoon. James “Poldark” Skirrow (14) settled with Bomber (15), but both fell after getting starts. Sadly, the Thirds innings crumbled. Only newcomer Arpit Shah was able to hang around, making 23. Preston were all out for a paltry 93.

Quick wickets were needed. Straight away Poldark got one to leap nastily and the batsman gloved it to Bomber at first slip. In his next over, our generously coiffed thespian all but shoved Chris Harper out the way to take a caught and bowled from a miscued hook shot. At the other end, Gambo’s tight bowling induced an edge to wicket-keeper Piercey, and the batsman walked. Then Gambo got a piece of luck as the ball rolled back onto the next batsman’s stumps. Pierce then took an excellent catch down the leg side from Poldark, and the umpire was saved making a decision by another honest batsman. With Abbots 55 for 5 Preston were right in the match.

But Skirrow was tiring, and Abbot’s number 6 batted with patience and common sense, waiting for anything short to thump to the boundary across the fast outfield. Preston couldn’t get another wicket despite a couple of half chances falling just out of the reach of the fielders. Abbots ran out winners by 5 wickets.

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    Preston 4th Xi v Botany Bay 2nd XI, SHCL Reg Div B East

After recent near misses, the 4th team took on Botany Bay at Whitwell looking for a win to ease their relegation fears. Preston were put in to bat with opening duo of Zahir and Garnham taking the field. The lack of rain and water has taken its toll on the Whitwell pitch and the occasional ball was shooting through low or lifting sharply, the former accounting for Garnham (12) early on. However Zahir (60) played an excellent innings and was soon putting the bad balls away together with Saunders (16) as the score advanced to 72-1 off 15 overs. The dismissal of Saunders to a fine catch at cover and then Zahir to a direct hit run out saw the momentum fade, although it picked up again with the arrival of Mark Carter who hit a boundary laden 31 in quick time, helping the Preston score along to 182-5 off 40 overs.

BB skipper Rolt (40) got his team off to a good start as the opening pair put on 40 for the first wicket until Maxwell (8-1-17-1) bagged opener Raj (13) lbw. However, wickets were hard to come by and with BB cruising at 114-1 off 26 overs it was a surprise when Rolt charged Newell’s off break and was stumped by evergreen keeper Andy Mower. This was quickly followed by a superb run out of no.3 Mikee (39) as occasional player Roger Bailey made a great boundary stop and fed Garnham to Mower for the run out. With wickets falling Preston had something to shout about and fight for as the pressure got to BB and they slumped from 114-1 to 132-8, Garnham (8-1-21-3) and Newell (8-1-42-3) doing the damage. The game wasn’t over though as BB, needing 50 off the last 6 overs fought back with good running between the wickets and a boundary or two. With Garnham bowled out skipper Saunders turned to young Luke Ponder to bowl two of the final 3 overs with BB needing 26 to win. Unfazed, Luke kept his nerve, pitched it up and bowled the no.10 with his third ball and then bowled out the last over for just three runs to leave BB at 174-9.

A great fielding and bowling effort from all involved, be they occasional players, seasoned veterans or up and coming young bloods, earned a well deserved win at last. When you see that all three games in Division C East were conceded and no cricket played at all in that division, this win and a couple more are vital to ensure our survival. Keep going lads!

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