Firsts falter but Twos and Threes win

Match reports for Sat 30th June 2018

    Preston v Watford, SHCL Div 2A

Preston’s fine unbeaten start to the season came to an end with a disappointing 45 run defeat against 3rd placed Watford in Herts Division 2A.

Not surprisingly the visitors won the toss and elected to bat first on a good surface with a lightning quick outfield. Preston’s new ball pair of Mark Waters and James Stevens got them off to a fantastic start reducing Watford to 16 for 4 with Stevens picking up 3 of the wickets to fall. Preston continued to work hard in the heat and found themselves in an excellent position after 20 overs, with Watford precariously placed at 75 for 7. However, Watford’s lower order had other ideas as they batted sensibility to put on 58 runs for the 8th wicket and 66 runs for the 9th wicket partnerships. Watford’s inning came to a close in the last over for 210, with Jack Stevens picking up 3 wickets and Mark Waters and Pete Murrell 2 wickets a piece.

Preston’s reply didn’t start well as they were reduced to 32 for 3 with Watford’s seamer Ravi Panchal proving a handful. Watford bowled with good discipline backed up with some excellent ground fielding as Preston stumbled along to 68 for 4 by the 20th over. However a 58 run 6th wicket partnership between James Stevens (55) and Dan Plumb (28) got Preston back into the game as they reached 144 for 5, needing a further 66 runs from 12 overs for victory. But the dismissal of Stevens and Plumb in quick succession trying to maintain the run rate saw Preston crumble as the following 8 overs saw 5 wickets fall for just 21 runs. Preston were dismissed in the 46th over for 165.

A couple of areas that Preston will need to improve upon in the coming fixtures if they are to maintain their promotion push is the boundary count (Watford 136 runs – Preston 78 runs) and the amount of extras conceded (Preston 36 – Watford 23).

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    Preston 2nd XI v Ickleford 2nd XI, SHCL Div 5A

Preston 2s continued their resurgence in Div 5A with a 111-run win at neighbours Ickleford 2s.

In sweltering conditions, on a dry pitch with relatively small boundaries, Preston batted first and Pete Gooden’s cultured 56 established early momentum, although only when he was joined by the skipper in a fourth wicket partnership of 53 did Preston start to get on top. Catlin’s unflappable 79 held things together nicely, enabling boisterous contributions from Olly Catlin (31 from 31 balls), Liam Kenna (51 from 48 balls) and Iain Williamson (30 from 22). Two nice moments of sportsmanship should be noted: First, Ickleford’s decision not to press run out claims against the stricken Kenna, sprawled mid-pitch following a collision with his batting partner. Second, Casey Walker’s sacrificing his opportunity to bat in order to look after one of the fielding team suffering from heat exhaustion.
After nearly four hours of drinks breaks, injuries, lost balls and 31 wides, Preston’s 50 over allocation came to an end with a 2nd XI record 333-9 amassed.

Ollie Gallimore and Williamson bowled unchanged for the first 20 overs of Ickleford’s innings and with only 85 on the board for the loss of two caught and bowled wickets for Williamson, Ickleford were always behind the required rate. Duncan Jenner concentrated well for 73 before being unlucky to be run out following a dropped catch and when Willoughby (40) and Brown (48) began to find the boundary Ickleford’s hopes were raised, only for Andrew Riant (4-48) and Ash Catlin (2-35) to close out the innings for 222.

A good win in the sunshine for the Preston team whose smiles were broadened by keeper Kenna, not the shyest coconut in the team, standing up for most of the innings on a wicket producing increasingly sporty bounce – several bowlers scored direct hits on his battered torso and await their bounty!

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    Preston 3rd XI v Harpenden 5th XI, SHCL Div 9B

Preston 3rds got back to winning ways with a comfortable 7 wicket victory against Harpenden 5ths. The Whitwell pitch was very dry and batting was difficult against the hard new ball as it bounced erratically. Craig Tennant exploited it expertly in taking 4 wickets to help reduce Harpenden to 21 for 6. After a long hop was cut for a great diving catch by Luke Ponder, Craig pushed the batsmen back with short balls and cleaned them up with late swinging full ones. At the other end, Callum Blair’s big in-swingers claimed two victims, including a one-handed caught-and-bowled. Then the ball went soft and Harpenden’s youngsters (U13!) began a sensible recovery. Alex Williamson bowled 6 overs for just 5 runs, and LHS’s leg spin was also a handful on the dusty pitch. Eventually Gabriel Ryan claimed the last wicket, his first for the Threes, and Harpenden were all out for 116 in the 41st over.

This was not enough in the hot conditions, and Preston strolled to victory despite the early loss of skipper for the day Matt Burleigh, who walked as one scuttled along the floor for a plumb LBW (see Craig’s photos on Facebook!). Mark Smith calmly accumulated 45 not out and Callum Blair made a confidence building 40, both playing some lovely drives across the fast outfield, and Preston won with 20-odd overs to spare.

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    Preston 4th XI v Harpenden 6ths, Reg Div B East

Despite Preston 4s bowling the opposition out for only the second time this season and posting their highest total of the season, it wasn’t enough to see off a Harpenden side that reached 231 all out from 36 overs.
Highlights in the bowling department were a fine 8-0-43-3 from Tom Maxwell and 5-1-39-4 for David Ogden who recovered well from a wayward opening over. Both bowlers were on hat tricks at one stage, with Oggy having his hat trick in the palm of hands as the Harp no.9 lobbed a straightforward caught and bowled chance back to him. Alas, the ball slipped through Oggy’s hands and rolled down his arms to the floor, onto which he then slumped in despair. Next time Oggy.
With Biggs (9) departing early, Saunders and Kay (13) steadied the Preston innings, bringing up 50 in the 16th over. Saunders (63) and man of the match Maxwell (53) then set about the Harpenden bowlers. However, with six fielders on the boundary, momentum couldn’t be maintained as wickets began to fall. Ogden (22) provided some impetus late on but Preston couldn’t match the earlier firepower of Harpenden and ended at 187-6 from 40 overs.

At the halfway stage Preston are in the drop zone, however with a slight change of fortune and a few more catches held, a win or two is well within reach.

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