3rds close gap on leaders as 1sts and 2nds get better of draws
Match reports for Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd July 2016.
Preston v Harpendon 2nds, SHCL Div 2A
Top of the league Harpenden 2nds won the toss and gave Preston the first opportunity on a good wicket at Harpenden. Openers Juston Powick and James Stevens got off to a solid start, putting on 40 before Powick (26) picked out mid wicket. Twin brother Jack joined James at the crease for a brief period before falling LBW to Winchester for the first of his 4 wickets. Just as James looked to be settling in for the afternoon, he pushed at a wide one and got caught behind for 32 leaving Preston’s innings at 77 for 3. Their ensued the highest partnership of the match as Paul Barker (51) and Will Gallimore (38) put on 75 for the 4th wicket.
Both fell in quick succession and it was left to the lower order, all getting starts and throwing their wickets away to gain maximum batting points and the total at 216 for 9 off 51. Max Anderson’s three consecutive sixes being the highlight.
Harpenden’s reply got off to the worst possible start as Francis was castled second ball by Hughes. Seb Walton-Adams then struck twice in consecutive overs to leave the home side 17 for 3 after 6 overs. Reeves and Winchester put on 44 for the 4th wicket before Reeves slapped a Casey Hughes long hop straight to Pete Murrell at point who took a smart catch to leave Harpenden 61 for 4. At four down and quite surprisingly after winning the toss, Harpenden seemed to give up on the run chase and looked to survive the remainder of the innings. Anderson and Murrell bowled well again in tandem both picking up a wicket apiece but with overs running out and losing a couple to rain, the bowling got changed regularly in attempt to pick up wickets. James Stevens had an effective 2 over burst, picking up 2 wickets but an unfortunate injury prevented him from carrying on.
With 12 overs to go, Preston looked slight favourites to pick up maximum points with Harpenden 8 down for just 95. Downes joined ‘The Wall’ Winchester and all but got Harps home for the draw before Walton Adams bowled Downes with a yorker three balls from the end. Number 11 Harper just survived and kept his side undefeated at the halfway point in the season. Winchester played well for his 52 not out.
Despite not winning, Preston looked good for their 19 points and look set for a strong second half to the season.
Preston 2nds v Leverstock Green 2nds, SHCL Div 5A
Preston 2’s entertained Leverstock Green 2’s in their first encounter of the season.
With an eye on the unpredictable weather, Preston won the toss and elected to bat. The opening pairing of Warren Hearne and Tom Lincoln took the initiative quickly and set up a solid base for the Preston innings. Hearne capitalised to make a well crafted 62 before being adjudged LBW off Callingham. Some excellent running between the wickets and lofty shots from Lincoln meant Green’s bowlers found it hard to get on top.
After the fall of Hearne and Lincoln and their positive start, Preston struggled to make the push during the middle overs – Ashley Catlin, Casey Walker and Liam Kenna all made starts but some tight bowling especially from Green’s Littlejohn and Callingham and the silly run-out of Walker meant Preston were tripped up by the fall of badly timed wickets.
After the maximum 53 overs Preston posted 185 for 6. Something to bowl at certainly but Preston possibly felt that this perhaps wasn’t quite enough – Green are riding high in the league standing and Preston’s bowling had to be on the money.
Rain did start to fall at tea but luckily held off enough that play resumed as normal with no loss of overs.
Green’s openers struggled against some tight bowling from Preston’s new ball pairing of Mark Waters and Ollie Gallimore – Waters especially returning miserly figures of 15-8-2-15 and the pair dismissed Green’s top 3 of Parkes, Wallis and Ali fairly quickly.
Green’s No 4 and No 5, Merrett and Walker, both dropped anchor. They batted sensibly but didn’t offer many attacking shots and saw off the consistent opening attack. Preston felt it was worth the gamble to throw the ball up to encourage some bigger shots. This worked to an extent but Preston’s change bowlers were at times very loose and bad balls were given the treatment.
Green’s No 6 Littlejohn especially hit some beautiful, powerful strokes from his first delivery and changed the dynamic worryingly. Preston need to be very careful.
Skipper Catlin took three wickets and Walker, coming up the hill, with two wickets meant Green’s batsman fell regularly whilst trying to hit big shots and keep up the momentum and keep the total in sight. Kenna also kept well snaffling two stumpings off Catlin. Some good catching and committed fielding too contributed to the close finish.
Preston limited Leverstock to a nail biting 179 for 8 off their 47 to draw with Preston claiming the lion’s share of the points.
Valuable points for the home side and importantly some encouragement around a positive performance with bat and ball. An enjoyable game against a good side and strong club.
Preston 3rd XI v Old Elizabethans 2nds, SHCL Div 10B
Another good performance from Preston’s 3rd XI kept them in touching distance of Div 10Bs runaway leaders, Old Albanians 3rds and Southgate Compton 2nds.
John Garnham won the toss and elected to bowl first, and Preston’s opening attack of Bhav Patel and Iain Purton soon had OEs in trouble at 45 for 4. A 98 run stand for the 5th wicket was ended by Tom Mercer (2 for 46 from 14 overs), before Patel (3 for 28 from 15 overs) and Purton (2 for 35 from 14 overs) returned to take more wickets and restrict OEs to 165 for 7 from 53 overs.
With the batting line-up missing regulars Burleigh, Gatehouse, Williamson and Hedges, Will Mercer (39) joined John Garnham (35) at the top of the order, and they put on a good opening stand to settle any nerves. Jack Morecroft (55*) and James Skirrow (34*) then took over, and saw Preston comfortably to the target in just the 30th over.
With the two division leaders playing each other and drawing, Preston have narrowed the gap to the promotion places to 29 points, and have everything to play for in the second half of the season.
Preston 4th XI v Baldock 3rds, Regional Development Division B East
Preston 4ths were asked to bat first by table toppers Baldock 3rds on saturday and crawled to 147 for 6 on a trappy wicket. Peter Robbins (42) was the only one to get into gear as Baldock made it look a stroll, winning by 7 wickets, with Aaron Castle taking 2 of the wickets to fall.
Preston Sunday 1st XI v Letchworth, Beds County League Div 2
Preston won the toss and elected to bat against local rivals Letchworth at the Field of Dreams on Sunday.
With Justin Powick and Matt Burleigh away, Preston called on Louis Harrington-Smith and Casey Hughes to open the batting.
After Casey Hughes went in the first over for 0, batting for LHS (35) and Will Mercer (28) became relatively easy, and they put on a 98 run partnership for the second wicket. When LHS was dismissed the score was 99-2 in the 12th over. Enter Alf Rehman. After a slow start against the better Letchworth bowlers, he too scored very freely. Well supported by Liam Kenna (38) and Dom Baldwin (26), Alf was last man out for 112 after bringing up his 100 when Preston were 7 down. Again Preston failed to bat the overs and were all out for 338 in the 44th over.
The Letchworth reply didn’t get off to a good start with Oliver Gallimore (7-0-29-1) striking in the second over, removing the opposition captain David Humphreys for 0 caught in the gully. Max Anderson (9-2-39-0) bowled well without much reward, having a couple of catches dropped off his bowling. Tom Murrell, bowling for the first time this season, showed glimpses of consistency in his 9 overs. Best bowling of the innings was the captain Peter Murrell with figures of 9-2-17-3. There was a wicket apiece for Callum Blair 6-0-24-1 and LHS 3-0-4-1. Letchworth batted out the overs and finished on 176-6, to give Preston a commanding victory.