Balcombe stars as Firsts keep top spot

Match reports for Sat 23rd and Sun 24th June 2018.

    Preston v Berkhamstead, SHCL Div 2A

Preston continued their winning run and remain top of Herts Division 2A thanks to a hard fought 25 run victory over Berkhamsted, with their Australian all-rounder Lewis Balcombe playing a starring role.

Winning the toss and electing to bat first on a good surface with small square boundaries, Preston made a splendid start to their innings as openers Lewis Balcombe (84) and James Stevens (85) both batted beautifully in taking them to 166 without loss by the 35th over. The removal of both openers saw Preston stutter as they looked to increase the run rate with wickets in hand. They lost 8 wickets for 90 runs in the last 15 overs and were a little disappointed to finish their innings at “only” 256 for 8.

Berkhamsted’s reply started brightly as Preston struggled to control the run rate, and the home side reached 109 for 2 by the 20th over. Not for the first time this season Preston’s spin attack got them back into the game as Lewis Balcombe (8/0/36/4) in tandem with Pete Murrell (10/0/33/2) helped reduce Berko to 144 for 6 by the 30th over. The squeeze was then further applied by skipper Max Anderson (10/2/29/2), who bowled a teriffic spell and along with Jack Stevens (9.1/1/53/2) helped to dismiss their hosts in the last over for 231, with the excellent keeper Ben Hill having a hand in 7 of the dismissals (5 catches and 2 stumpings).

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    Preston 2nds v Watford 2nds, SHCL Div 5A

Preston 2s moved off the bottom of the Division 5A table with a 3-wicket victory over league leaders Watford Town 2s.
A first league victory of the season was all the more satisfying given the wide range of contributions from all members of the team as Watford’s 255 all out was overhauled with four overs to spare.
Ollie Gallimore (2-33) and seasonal debutant Iain Williamson (1-46) kept some robust top-order batting under control until left-hander Haseeb Khan paced the visitors’ acceleration well with a sensibly built 94, finding plenty of lower order support. Casey Walker defied recurring injury to take a couple of wickets though and Olly Catlin showed great control and nerve to bowl through the final overs, taking 4-25 and helping prevent a much bigger total in the quick scoring conditions.

After losing an early wicket, opener Pete Gooden’s classy 38 was accompanied by Haseeb Ashraf making his first 50 for Preston. Has gained confidence as his innings went on, driving powerfully to get to 83 before falling lbw. Young Tom Chambers looked very composed for a well-made 27 but when skipper Ash Catlin (15) was out, a mini collapse left Preston 52 short of their target with seven wickets down. The reassuring calmness of Walker (26*) and Williamson (22*) saw the hosts home though with a late flurry of boundaries greeted by much jubilation on the home balcony.

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    Preston 3rds v Leverstock Green 3rds, SHCL Div 9B

The Thirds unfortunately lost again, this time to Leverstock Green 3rds, who are mounting a strong challenge in Div 9B. Matt Burleigh batted through the innings for 72*, taking a nasty blow on the thumb as ball spat from the dry pitch. He put on 120 with Callum Blair, who made a classy 75 full of late cuts and square drives, before chipping a gentle catch from a full toss. Adam Turner hit two nice boundaries, and Dad Tony thumped one over the top to lift Preston’s final score to 208 for 7.

Skipper Iain Purton also found awkward bounce from the pitch and some early wickets gave Preston hope. But Leverstock’s captain rode his luck for 50, and some chances went begging. Swampy returned for an excellent second spell to try and turn the tide Preston’s way, but he ran out of overs and in the end Leverstock eased to victory by 4 wickets with a full 7 overs to spare.

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Preston 4s v Potters Bar 4s, Reg Div B East

Table topping Potters Bar 4’s visited Whitwell on Saturday sporting a new look team who ominously asked Preston 4s to take to the field on a hot afternoon. The PB openers soon settled into their game helped by the quick outfield, racing to 65-0 from the first 10 overs. The innings continued in much the same way with Preston able to take only the occasional wicket by way of catches for Jager, Hearne G, and a Biggs run out. With the score already in excess of 200 and with Maxwell (0-52), Clark (1-44) Biggs (2-41) and Newell (0-49) bowled out, skipper Saunders (0-49) rolled back the years and trundled down the Whitwell hill delivering four overs in tandem with Greig Hearne, who trundled up the hill, taking 2-39, including a fine boundary catch by Pomeroy and bowling a bemused PB no.6. A weary Preston XI left the field with PB having posted 276-6 in their 40 overs.

In reply, the Preston openers struggled to get going against the PB attack but having posted 24, mainly in extras, a mini-collapse ensued as Biggs (4), Maxwell (8), Hearne G.(1), Saunders (0), Pomeroy (0), Clarke (0) all departed, the majority being victims of PB captain Tim Ellis who bowled a fine spell of 6-1-10-6. With Preston on 28-6 and the game won, PB shuffled their bowling attack allowing Preston to get to 76 all out with Chris Newell (26*) being the only batsman to make double figures.

Still, we are able to find a positive in the ashes of defeat. Potters Bar 4’s only exist thanks to the migration of several East London Peacocks who themselves recently folded as a team. Well done Preston for continuing to field four teams!

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    Preston Sunday 1st XI v Potton, Beds League Div 1

After being hit for 300 by Potton just a few weeks ago, it was of vital importance that captain for the day Will Mercer won the toss. Potton duly elected to bat and were quickly 74 for no loss. After the 1st drinks break, Preston were able to pull the visitors back with regular wickets, with Pete Murrell the star of the show with figures of 6-11 off 4.4 overs. Ollie Catlin, Lewis Balcombe, Max Anderson and Bhav Patel shared a wicket each as Preston were able to bowl Potton out for 183.
In reply, Preston were quickly 11-3 before a partnership of 82 between Callum Blair and Balcombe (both scoring 45) steadied the ship. A flurry of wickets let Potton back in the game, but a 42 from Murrell, with support from Patel, saw Preston home with a wicket to spare, and secured their first Beds League win of the season.

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