Another ton for Jack Stevens sees firsts go clear at the top

Match reports for Saturday 16th / Sunday 17th June 2018

    Preston v Holtwhites Trinibis, Saturday June 16th SHCL Div 2A

Preston were indebted to a splendid match winning 103* from Jack Stevens to put them clear at the top of Saracens Herts Division 2A, as they defeated Holtwhites Trinibis by 3 wickets while rivals Hitchin lost for the first time this season.

Despite losing the toss and being asked to bowl first, Preston made excellent early progress restricting their hosts to 53 for 4 by the 20th over. Mark Waters (10/1/31/2) and Jack Stevens (10/4/22/2) both bowled with great skill and accuracy. But for the first time this season Preston struggled to maintain their usual high standards in the field with numerous misfields and dropped catches hampering their progress, allowing Holtwhites to progress from 97 for 5 in the 30th over to 143 for 6 in the 40th. However, Preston’ spin bowlers stuck to their task brilliantly and managed to bowl out Holtwhites in the 49th over for 197 with Pete Murrell (3), Max Anderson (2) and Lewis Balcombe (1) taking the wickets to fall.

The early loss of Balcombe in Preston’s chase brought George Biggs and Jack Stevens together for a partnership of 89 runs for the 2nd wicket. The pair coasted along without any troubles to 105 for 1 in the 25th over, but the dismissal of Biggs for 35 saw Preston having a mini collapse, losing 4 wickets for just 17 runs and suddenly precariously placed at 122 for 6. Preston were indebted to their experienced lower order as firstly David Fleckney (8) added 31 with Jack Stevens for the 7th wicket and then Warren Hearne (12*) and Stevens added 45 in just 7 overs. Stevens finally reached his fine century and guided Preston home to victory in the 47th over with 3 wickets in hand.

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    Preston 2nds v St Albans 2nds, SHCL Div 5A

Preston 2s went down to a 67-run defeat to St Albans 2s in Div 5A.
St Albans won the toss and decided to bat with an opening partnership of 89 in quick time halted only by a run out by keeper Pete Gooden. A further 62 partnership for the second wicket, albeit at a relatively steady tempo, looked to have set up the visitors for a large total until Preston’s slower bowlers checked their progress with skipper Ash Catlin’s taking 4 wickets as St Albans lost 5 for 45. The lack of a fifth regular bowler saw the early momentum re-established though, as 42 was added for the seventh wicket in quick time and the innings closed on 257-9, opener Rudlin carrying his bat for 96.
In reply, Will Mercer (20) and Gooden (12) shaped up well but nobody could support opener Alf Rehman for long enough until he was joined by skipper Catlin (28) in a stand of 84. A good platform was established with seven wickets in hand, but when both were bowled, Rehman going for an excellent 77 from 112, Preston’s hopes of victory faded quickly. Some accurate seam bowling from Islay (4-27) was enough to finish the job for St Albans.

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    Preston 3rds v Boxmoor 2nds, SHCL Div 9B

The Thirds came unstuck again on Saturday, this time against Boxmoor 2nds. The match was played on Boxmoor’s second ground at Warners End Valley in the north of Hemel Hempstead, as Whitwell was unavailable. Stand-in skipper for the day Matt Burleigh lost the toss and Preston were inserted on a grassy pitch. Opener Mark Smith soon fell to a jaffa that swung and nipped in to beat his defence, and Bhav Patel, thrust up the order, joined Bomber in a patient partnership to rebuild the innings. The pair added 68 for the second wicket with Bhav making an excellent and important 49. Greig Hearne (20) and Bomber then added 38 before Bomber was athletically caught by one of Boxmoor’s juniors. The innings then fell away somewhat as the ball began to shoot, and only Martin Pierce (20*) was able to add many before he ran out of partners. Preston were all out for 168 with one over left.

Bhav took a wicket first ball, and another shortly after, and at that point Preston thought they were in with a good chance of victory. But the pitch flattened out a little, Preston’s bowling wasn’t quite there (41 extras!) and Boxmoor’s 15 year old Ben Mannering played a patient, mature innings that slowly reeled the target in. The introduction of George Constantinidi’s off spin gave Preston fresh hope, as he picked up 3 wickets for 23 in 8 very good overs, but Mannering saw his side home with an excellent 58* in the 46th over.

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    Preston 4ths v Old Albanians 4ths Reg Div B East

Preston 4’s found themselves in an all too familar position at Old Albanians this week. With skipper Saunders winning another toss and putting OA in to bat, a combination of accurate bowling and good fielding restricted OA to 53-5 by the 18th over. Bruce (1-26) Newell (1-22) kept the openers subdued until the intoduction of Adam Turner (3-34) removed the upper middles, all caught in the covers. The aggressive lower middles hit several boundaries until Carter (1-56) and Biggs (3-24) reduced OA to 115-8. However, once again Preston were unable to close the innings out as the last wicket pair added 51 in the last eight overs, getting OA to 184-9.

Preston juggled the batting order around to try and make a quick start to the run chase however this backfired when OA bowler Curran (3-13) blasted out the top three with a hostile opening spell. With fellow opener Jukes removing the next three batsmen, Preston were reeling at 26-6. When Newell and Biggs were both run out without scoring it was left to top scoring Mark Carter (18*) to strike a few well timed boundaries before the game was done and dusted with Preston 58 all out.

A disappointing result but we continue to pick up bowling points which is encouraging and hopeully the next win is not too far away.

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    Preston Sunday XI v Eggington Foresters, Beds League Div 1

Max Anderson starred with the bat in an entertaining game on Sunday at the Field of Dreams. Batting first, Preston continued where they’d left off against Langleybury last week and collapsed. Something like 12 for 50-odd across the two games. Only Louis Harrington-Smith seemed to have his game head on, making an excellent 48 as opener while watching the other end trail back and forth to the pavilion. 58 for 6 became 72 for 7 before eventually Will Mercer steadied the ship with 23. But at 99 for 9 all seemed hopeless, except to super-hero number 11 Max Anderson who decided to have some fun and started peppering the birds nests in the trees by the road, passing cars, and Muntjac deer roaming around Princess Helena’s grounds. Max made 71* in just 48 balls including 5 sixes and 9 fours, in an unlikely 11th wicket partnership of 80 with David Kay, who made 2 but more importantly held his end up when required.

After losing three early wickets, Eggington’s batsmen knuckled down in pursuit of the target and reached 128 for 3 before Lewis Balcombe and Callum Blair got among them. A direct hit run out by Jack Stevens helped, and at 155 for 8 Preston felt victory within their grasp. But number 10 Muhammed Aamir (not that one) whacked a big six, and he helped the patient Mohammed Fayaz (74*) get his side over the line.

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