1sts smash St Albans in season opener
Preston 1st XI v St. Albans 1st XI, SHCL Div 2A
Preston achieve comprehensive victory by 41 runs
Preston entertained St. Albans for their opening 50 overs a-side Saracens Herts League match of the 2017 season.
Preston Skipper Ben Hill won the toss and elected to bat on what looked like a an encouraging surface. Openers James Stevens and Jack Morecroft set about building the Preston innings well against a youthful and at times accurate St.Albans attack.
However, it was the introduction of the experience of St. A’s bowler Simon White that wickets started to fall. Morecroft and James Stevens, No 3 Jack Stevens and No 4 Blake Mills were all back in the pavilion in quick succession after a solid start with White claiming the Preston top 3 and Preston, having been 60 for none, were wobbling at 77 for 4.
Enter Skipper Ben Hill who started to claw back the advantage for the home side. A true captain’s knock, Hill batted superbly well to reach 84 Not Out with a mixture of control and aggression. Ably supported by Dan Plumb (23), Warren Hearne and Peter Murrell the Preston innings finished on 210 for 6. St.A’s White was the pick of the St. Albans attack claiming 5-38 off 10.
The St. Albans batting attack was fairly soon under some pressure after the tea break with no-one really in the top order making a start.
Preston’s new ball pairing of James Stevens and Mark Waters picked up regular wickets with Waters picking up 4-46 off his 10. The introduction of Blake Mills also caught St.Albans by surprise with only Capaldi (Who? – Ed.) making a start (19).
At 112 for 6 St.A’s looked like they’d left themselves too much to do but a really good knock from no.9 J. Hall (48) started to claw things back. With light fading and temperatures plummeting Preston need to work very hard for the final two wickets. St.A’s were perhaps thinking the 5th bowling option wouldn’t be much perhaps felt they’d wait and knock the runs off, but Hill turned to his two spinners Murrell and Jack Stevens to finish the work and both bowled tight lines and with great composure.
With the threat of Hall gone (stumped off Stevens), the last two wickets did eventually fall and St. Albans were all out for 169.
A good, solid Preston performance to win by 41 runs and a great start to the 2017 season.
Preston very much looking forward to the local derby against Ickelford CC next week at Tiger Park.
St Albans 2nd XI v Preston 2nd XI SHCL Div 5A
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Preston 2s opening Herts League Div5A fixture ended in a 36-run defeat at St Albans in a game turned by an outstanding lower order rally from the home team. After an aggressive start from the inserted hosts, Ollie Gallimore (2-40) and the impressive Tom Mercer (3-37) shifted the game in Preston’s direction and, at 95-6 in the 27th over, an away win seemed likely. Enter star man O’Toole for St Albans whose well-judged 81 from 70 balls punished some wilting bowling and fielding to put on 145 in quick time for the 7th wicket with anchor Ahmed (91*), who batted almost throughout. Casey Hughes (2-56) returned to calm the onslaught a little towards the close of the innings but, on a surface offering some help for the bowlers, serving up 250 from the allotted 50 overs (plus another three “free” overs from wide deliveries) meant it looked like Goodbye Mr Chips for Preston at the interval.
There followed a curate’s egg of an innings from Preston, with the top 6 all reaching 20+ but no one batsmen able to go on to dominate the bowling. A cracking opening stand from Alf Rehman (32) and Tom Lincoln (27) raised hopes but their demise saw the run-rate curdle and although skipper Ash Catlin (39) threatened to whisk things along, the innings never really came to the boil as the middle order scrambled to catch up with the required rate against some steady bowling. Preston finished on 214-7: 14 points secured but an opportunity lost.
Old Minchendenians v Preston 3rd XI SHCL Div9B
The 3rd XI’s double promotion saw them playing their inaugural Div9B match away at Old Minchendenians – a new fixture for the club. The pitch looked a little dicey, so skipper John Garnham had no hesitation in asking OM’s to bat when he won the toss. OM’s made a slow start as Bhav Patel (1 for 11 from 10 overs) and Iain Purton initially kept the run rate down. The pitch began to bounce alarmingly when George Constantinidi came on to bowl his off-breaks, making keeping almost impossible for poor Martin Pierce. Iain Williamson picked up 2 for 27 from his 10 overs, and with 10 overs remaining OM’s seemed to be struggling with the score barely past a ton. But then the home side’s middle order went on the attack, and rather successfully too. Fielding was difficult all day on the football pitches across the outfield, but a couple of catches went down which didnt help, although George C. held on to an enormous skier on the cow corner boundary. Olly Catlin, making his league debut, picked up 2 for 36 in 5 overs of leg spin, thanks to a stumping and an excellent reaction catch by Martin P. But OM’s finished at 179 for 7, a challenging target in the conditions.
Preston’s innings began disastrously as John Garnham skied his first attacking shot, and Will Mercer edged behind after being clunked on the head by the slowest bouncer ever. From 4 for 2, Matt Burleigh (17) and Iain Williamson (44) clawed the innings back with a 50 partnership over the next 20 overs. With the ball spitting, shooting, spinning and seaming prodigously, batting was never easy. After Bomber’s departure, a very determined George Constantinidi played his finest innings yet for the club, adding 72 with the increasingly exhausted Skinny. Greig Hearne joined George and the pair upped the run rate, George hitting a slower ball for a huge 6, and Greig baseball batting a one bounce 4 over the bowler’s head. Suddenly, Preston needed just 5 an over to win. But both fell in quick succesion, George for 46 and Greig for 18. Martin P didn’t stay long, but Olly Catlin clipped his first ball for 4 and hopes were high. 10 were needed off the last two overs, but unfortunately it was not to be, as OM’s bowlers kept their nerve and Preston fell 5 runs short.
OM’s just missed promotion last year, and lost only one game at home, so Preston’s innings was a fine effort in difficult and pressurised conditions, even though we were disappointed in the end.
* no smoke signals received from the 4th XI *