3rds gain promotion as 1sts & 2nds hopes fade
The Third XI’s 9th successive win guaranteed them promotion with three games left, but it wasn’t as easy as they hoped…. Sadly, defeats for the 1sts and 2nds left both feeling that their promotion hopes were probably gone for this season. Match reports for Sat 20th and Sun 21st August 2016.
Preston 1st XI v Abbots Langley, SHCL Div 2A
Insert match report.
Preston 2nd XI v Parkfield & Headstone, SHCL Div 5A
Preston 2s first defeat since early June saw their promotion hopes extinguished at league leaders Parkfield on Saturday. Missing several key players, Preston could have done with winning the toss after morning rain left the largely uncovered strip demanding strict batting application from the Boycott school of soft hands and patience. Inserted, the top order instead contrived to chip catches to the infield at regular intervals, subsiding tamely to 60-7 after Chris Cole’s (24) early enterprise had first guided them to 46-1. The great man would have been invoking the relatively strong technique of his be-pinafored aunty, with her legendary stick of rhubarb, had he watched the video recording of the innings made by the home club. A little waggle of the tail by Goldsmith and Murrell left Parkfield chasing 79 for victory, as Preston followed up last week’s highest score of the season with their lowest.
Initially batting looked no easier for the home side and, with Nick Jones (2-12) and Ollie Gallimore (1-14) after 8 overs extracting considerable movement from the surface, Parkfield were puffing nervously on their team shisha pipe at a low point of 17-3. Home captain Ali Khan then took matters into his own hands, taking a quick look at the surface with 5 off his first 10 balls faced and then smashing 48 of the next 12 to end the game with some splendid hitting on all sides of the wicket.
The 7 wicket defeat leaves Preston back in 4th place in Div 5A with promotion now out of reach but with great progress made in all departments as the season has progressed, several players having pushed or still pushing through to the 1st XI and with runs and wickets from a wide range of players contributing to a very positive campaign. Two games to go and a highest ever league finish to be played for.
Preston 3rd XI v Botany Bay 3rd XI, SHCL Div 10B
Bolstered by a couple of veterans from the 4th XI (who had a week off), the Thirds needed to beat bottom placed Botany Bay to secure promotion from Div 10B. With the threat of heavy rain ever present, skipper John Garnham won the toss and had no hesitation in putting the visitors into bat. Bhav Patel and Iain Purton immediately took a wicket each, Richard Gatehouse hanging on to a sharp catch at gully after a bit of a juggle. That moment lifted the fielders, who looked forward to dismissing their opponents for another low total.
It wasn’t to be. BB’s number 3 simply cleared his front leg out of the way and slogged. The bowlers responded by dropping short, so he slogged them off the back foot instead. And then the catches started going down, as the Threes put in their worst fielding performance of the season. Bob Hearne came on with his slow lobs to try and dismiss the dangerous batsman, who already had 50 and was threatening to take the match away from Preston. He was immediately dropped on the cow corner boundary, and then skied another towards Bomber at cover. Bomber steadied himself, but the howling gale got hold of the ball and blew it back towards the batsman. Bomber dived and held on.
Iain Hamilton bowled a tight set of ten overs, and Swampy’s second spell brought two wickets. Bomber grabbed one courtesy of another good catch on the run from Bhav. But Botany Bay’s middle order kept going, and the ten-man visitors were only dimissed with a couple of overs to spare for 171, thanks to a run out from the ageless septuagenarian Chris Newell (bit of a non-sequitur, but possibly true – Ed.).
John Garnham and Matt Burleigh opened up after tea, and a couple of showers spiced up the pitch. Botany Bay bowled well, and Bomber was at his most watchful. Fortunately, the skipper was determined and in good form. John waited for the bad ball, and put them away. It was an excellent knock, and very much needed. The opening stand had reached 98 when Bomber nicked off, but fortunately Will Mercer once again found exquisite timing to race to 27 with 6 successive boundaries.
Tiredness caught up with John Garnham and he was dismissed for 82, and suddenly the middle order wobbled. Mercer, Hearne (G), Biggs and Newell fell in quick succession, and for the second time this season the opening bowlers Purton and Bhav found themselves having to rescue the innings with the bat. The Thirds very own Anderson and Panesar took it in their stride. Swampy carved a few boundaries, Bhav nurdled it here and there, and Preston were home.
And, most importantly, guaranteed promotion as third place Southgate Compton cannot now catch them.
One more win from the last two matches will clinch the title. Come on the Threes!
Sunday 1st XI v Letchworth, Beds County League Div 2
Roving reporter Liam “Newshound” Kenna catches up, after a bit of a hitch, with the Sunday 1sts at Letchworth:
The Sunday 1st XI travelled the short distance to Letchworth for their Hertfordshire Derby in the Bedfordshire League.
A very young Letchworth side – far different to the very old side in the previous encounter won the toss and Preston were sent out miles away to have a graze.
I couldn’t tell you what happened in the first 8 overs as Will Mercer was an hour and twenty minutes late picking me up. We also got lost.
“Don’t worry Kenna, it’s Sunday. We bat first on Sundays”
When we arrived we seemed to have less people on the pitch than at a Pete Murrell appreciation evening. News that our very own Jason Donovan had pulled out injured reached us and we were ten.
Seb Walton-Adams took a couple of early ones including their first team captain. Kenna took over from a pretty petrified Tom Murrell behind the sticks. When he asked where he should put his keeping stuff, the Letchworth batsman hit him with:
“After the way you just kept mate, the bin!”
Kenna was as bad if not worse. Dropping three, one that nearly killed him from Seb and two dollies. Including Dave Albon off Max Anderson. Of course he went on and got 100.
Anderson and Seb bowled well, Seb picking up 3 wickets. Ollie Gallimore puffed his way in against the wind and the Murrell brothers looked like a ‘Before and After’ double act.
Letchworth got 217 or something.
Preston set about chasing a very getable score on a fantastic wicket. The Badger and The Weasel opened. Rehman and Mercer and they made their way to 83 I think – honestly the square is miles away from the bar – before Mercer departed. LBW Blair joined Rehman before Badge fell for a well-put-together 71.
Blair reached his customary 30 odd and Murrell blasted his way to around the same score. At the other end – night watchman Walton-Adams was still scratching around. Finally getting off the mark after his 15th ball.
Drama ensued with a couple of overs to go, Preston realising that they didn’t have as much time as they thought. Kenna and Anderson, the best finishers seen a Preston shirt since Tom Finney and Kevin Davies, gave it a whack and got out quickly.
3 needed off two balls. Seb connected with one. Everyone woke up. Bomber set off and called Seb back for a second. Bomber was out by about 5 yards and looked like he was running on a treadmill. The bowler however dropped the ball and broke the stumps.
Second last ball and it was wide. Very wide. The umpire didn’t look like he was going to give it until he got hit with the Bomber Death Stare. A wide ball was called and Preston were deserving winners.