3rds go top, 1sts & 2nds win, and JP breaks club batting record
Preston 1st XI v Radlett 2nd XI, SHCL Div 2A
Preston’s overseas star Justin Powick struck a faultless 111* as the villagers recorded their third consecutive home win in SHCL Div 2A. In the course of his 28th innings of the season, Justin also passed the club record for runs in a season, 1550, set by Marcus Baines back in 1989.
Visitors Radlett 2nds won the toss and batted first. Openers Lipschitz and Malde got off to a flyer bringing up their 50 in just the ninth over. Casey Hughes then struck, finding Malde’s outside edge and ‘keeper Ben Hill took an excellent one handed catch to his left. Again, spinners Max Anderson (2-41) and Pete Murrell (4 – 48) came on in tandem and both bowled unchanged for their allotted 15 overs. A mix of good bowling and questionable shot selections saw wickets fall at regular intervals. When opener Lipschitz was stumped off the bowing of Murrell for 80 and the team at 139 for 6, Preston could sniff a chance of bowling Radlett out for an under par total. Seb Walton-Adams came back into the attack after an expensive first few overs to mop up the tail, clean bowling each of the last 3 batsmen and conceding just the one run. Radlett were bowled out for 172 in the 44th over.
Openers Powick and James Stevens got off to a solid start, putting the bad ball away and accumulating runs elsewhere. They bought up their 50 in the 10th over and then set about Radlett bowling, Powick sending a couple of short balls into the neighbouring Princess Helena College! With the score at 91, Stevens picked out mid off off the bowling of Cohen, bringing twin brother Jack to the crease. He continued where his brother had left off, and Preston reached the total losing no further wickets. Jack Stevens finishing on 31 not out and Powick recording his third SHCL ton of the season, and 7th in all.
Preston 2nd XI v Rickmansworth, SHCL Div 5A
Vice-captain and regular correspondent Andy Riant ups his game:
Preston’s Saturday 2nd team continued to entertain as Ringmaster Ashley Catlin took his travelling circus to the friendly people of Rickmansworth. With several performers already absent, including all of the speedier pie-throwers (Waters M, Morecroft H, Walker and Goldsmith) Preston’s undercard was further disturbed when trainee magician Liam “Walks On” Waters was injured in a surfing accident in Galilee, Cornwall. Unfazed, the Ringmaster cracked his whip and Alf “The Shaman” Rehman performed his watching the 3rd team and playing for the 2nd team in the same innings trick – great flexibility – great club man.
Winning the toss and batting first on a grassy but gently-paced wicket, Catlin sent in one half of the Hearne & Riant, mid-off and mid-on, Statler & Waldorf combination to open along with one of the incredible performing Gallimore Brothers. Wiggy and Wazza tamed the early approaches of Rickmansworth’s lions with an appropriately cautious stand of 23 from 12 before leading man Hearne’s leading edge brought ball-juggler Callum Blair to the stage. A mix-up in the props department meant that Cal’s fourth ball was infact an unfriendly viper, swinging away and spitting back of the pitch to hit the stumps without a stroke offered. Sympathetic applause for the young man as he left the ring.
Rebuilding work for the studious Gallimore and new-to-the-troupe Plumb who, despite a blow to his eponymous region, helped fashion an ultimately match-winning partnership of 65. Wiggy’s return-to-form 52 drew a strong ovation from visitors and hosts alike but following his final bow for the season, things started to go wrong for Catlin’s performers. In a Ricky baseball-style double play, Professor Plumb attempted a leaf from the Shaman’s magic book and appeared at both ends of the wicket during the same ball – conventional enough if your performing partner does the same thing but not if, confused by the bowler’s dropped return catch, he falls to the floor with a calf-strain of veal butchery proportions. Exit Plumb, running almost two (but with a run out thumbs down from the umpire’s balcony) and the Ringmaster, retired hurt having run almost two yards. Preston-effectively 100-5 off 35 with the local lions’ tails up and circling.
Enter the Welsh Jester to save the day. All jokes to one side, Liam Kenna, whose wicketkeeping has often been from a higher level this season, produced his coming-of-age innings in a Preston shirt combining sinuous cuts with well-timed drives to on and leg, all backed up by quicksilver running between the wickets, with which batting troupe supporting cast Harrington-Smith 15, Jones 16 and Riant 13* could barely keep up on a large stage. Kenna’s 59 not out inspired a last 13 overs finale of 87 to reach the intermission at 200-6.
As Rickmansworth took their turn to bat, the other Incredible Gallimore Brother took his turn to perform. The Amish Swinger – Oxymoron Ollie, produced miracle induckers to clean bowl both of the home side’s leading batsmen, and with your correspondent, the curmudgeonly Waldorf taking 2-6 from 13 overs before being booed off for being boring, the Ricky run chase was severely handicapped in its infancy. High-wire leading edge catches from two more batsman off Gallimore (4-36) – take a bow Plumb and Jones – left Ricky at 39-6 and needing magic tricks of their own. Solid defence then understandably prevailed and the Ringmaster was obliged to ring the bowling changes as short spells from Lance-Corporal “they won’t like it up ‘em” Jones and Louis “I’ll confuse them with my hyphen” Harrington-Smith attempted to break the deadlock. Just as the crowd was beginning to let its attention drift toward the posters advertising next week’s return to 50-50 highest-score-wins cricket, LHS produced the odd hallucinatory slower ball to break the middle order’s resistance, taking 3-11 including a customary second stumping for the Welsh Wizard, and all of a sudden the last pair were together. A game of cat and mouse ensued with 14 overs to bat out for the draw and a good humoured Oz Ali judging line well to bottle up one end while the Shaman induced the number 11 to occasionally carve to leg at the other. Cat and mouse games call for cats so the Ringmaster summoned one last effort from his calf muscle, dragging his stricken limb to the oche to send down a few darts in true Lazarus style. Ali continued to leave well, surviving some near misses as, with less than 6 overs to go, the 11th dart from Lazarus nipped back enough to hit the pad and with no shot played the bounce of the ball was judged insufficient to clear the stumps and the umpire’s call went Preston’s way. Not what the home audience had wanted but they took the 129 run defeat in good spirit and Preston’s travelling circus will return to next week’s home performance with a 5th consecutive win under its belt and some returning performers to add to the cast list – step right up to witness the promotion surge continue!
Preston 3rd XI v Old Albanians 3rd XI, SHCL Div 10B
The Threes went top of Div 10B with a nail-biting one wicket victory at Whitwell in their top-of-the-table clash with the leaders going into the match, Old Albanians 3rds.
Skipper John Garnham boldly put OAs into bat after calling the toss correctly, and immediately Iain Purton and Bhav Patel settled into rhythm, putting the batsmen under keen pressure. Swampy got one batsmen to edge behind, but he’d over-stepped and it was a no ball. Never mind, a few overs later the same batsmen chopped on. At the other end, Bhav frustrated the number 2 into holing out to the safe hands of Tom Mercer at cover.
Ian Hamilton replaced Swampy, and produced his best spell for the Thirds this season. He quickly had a wicket caught by Tom Murrell at mid-off, while Bhav should have had one caught at slip, but skipper Garnham over-enthusiastically jumped in front of Bomber and the catch went down. Bomber retired to third man in pain, nursing a quickly swelling finger. Not to worry, a few balls later the same batsman skied one and Attiqur clung on at mid-wicket.
Wickets kept coming: Bhav (3 for 24 from 15 overs) and Hammy (3 for 18 from 10 overs) grabbed LBWs, and Tom Murrell dived for another catch at mid-off before claiming one himself with a lovely off-break that struck the top of off stump.
Up to this point Preston had simply out bowled OAs decent batting line up, to have them teetering at 85 for 8. But OAs are a strong side who bat long, and after another catch went down, their tail started to take advantage of the softening ball and tiring bowlers. The score crept upwards, and it took the returning Tom Murrell (3 for 28) to finish things in the 52nd over, via a Garnham stumping and a fine catch by Tom Mercer at deep mid-wicket.
OAs had made 134, a score that Preston would have gladly settled for at the start of the match, but felt a little too high after the earlier superb bowling.
Will Mercer and one-handed Matt Burleigh opened up. Fortunately it was Bomber’s bottom hand that was damaged, and he almost never uses that. The veteran decided to bore OA’s best seam bowler, the wily Arif Hassan, leaving anything wide of off and simply clipping a few off his legs whenever the bowler strayed too straight. At the other end, young Will astonished everyone with a lovely innings full of effortlessly timed strokes, and some excellent shot selection. It was as good a knock as his against Northwood 3rds a few weeks ago, and reminded us all that Will has a lot of potential as a batsman.
Will and Bomber had added a vital 48 when the old man momentarily forgot he had no bottom hand, and tamely launched one into the slightly deep mid-on’s lap. This moment seemed to break Will’s concentration, and he too perished, pulling a long hop straight to mid-wicket for an excellent 38.
Now OA’s experienced slow bowlers smelt blood, and Preston duly obliged. From 48 for 0 the home side slid inexorably to 112 for 8. Richard Gatehouse looked in good form, launching a big six and working leg-spinner Tariq Hassan well into the leg side, but he fell LBW to offie Rod Warren for 22. Tom Mercer made a skittish 9 before edging gently to slip, and having smashed a lovely four to deep mid-wicket, Attiqur next decided to charge the bowler before he’d even begun his run-up. Attiq was somewhere over the county line in Bedfordshire when the bails were removed.
Tom Murrell looked to be batting sensibly, but a leg break spat and he was caught behind off his gloves. Skipper Garnham entered determinedly, but he too perished quickly, nicking one as he tried to drive.
Suddenly the opening bowlers Iain “Swampy” Purton and Bhav Patel were together, having hardly been called upon to bat all season. Swampy decided the sweep shot was his best policy, and slowly the runs came. At the other end, Bav either blocked or tried cutting. Fortunately, his diminutive stature meant the ball bounced over most of those shots. A lovely straight drive from Swampy brought Preston within 3 runs of the target, but then disaster: Swampy missed Tariq Hussan’s quicker, flatter delivery and Umpire Bomber had no choice but to raise his swollen digit.
Number 11 Ian Hamilton walked slowly to the wicket, like the condemned Parisian aristocrat facing the revolutionaries’ guillotine. Thinking he had to win it himself, Bhav panicked, walked up the wicket and missed the leg break. Fortunately, so did the keeper and Bhav scrambled back into his crease in the nick of time.
Now it was left-hander Hammy’s turn. Three dot balls were followed by a huge LBW shout from offie Warren, but Umpire Gatehouse turned it down on the grounds that the ball had pitched outside leg and in any case was missing the leg stump. The bowler wasn’t best pleased, and the very next ball his floaty half volley was caressed by The Bishop with tremendous flourish through the covers for the match winning boundary.
Time will tell, but possibly the best victory in the Third XI’s history?
With four games to play the Thirds are top by one point from OAs, but crucially have a game in hand. Next week, another vital match away against third placed Southgate Compton 2nd XI.
Preston 4th XI v Harpenden 6ths, Regional Development Div B East
Preston 4ths visited Rothampstead Experimental Station to play Harpenden 6ths on Saturday, and drew their third match in a row. The home team were invited to bat first and rattled up 239/3 in 35 overs on a green track that played well. Graham Hull was Preston’s best bowler with 2-55 off 12 overs, but could have had a lot more luck. Skipper Dave Saunders got Preston off to a flying start with a breezy 41 and Chris Newell made a gritty 35, but the tail end had to shut up shop for the honour of a draw, finishing on 140/8 in 45 overs.
Preston Sunday 1st XI v Luton Town & Indians 2nds, Beds League Div 2
Having restricted Luton to 199 for 8 in 45 overs at Wardown Park on Sunday (Muzza 3 for 47, Max 2 for 40), Preston must have felt in with a good chance of victory. Justin Powick made a duck, but Dan Plumb (67) and Callum Blair (35) seemed to have put Preston in control. Unfortunately, the Sunday firsts notoriously fragile batting fell apart yet again. Only skipper Pete Murrell (31) made double figures as Preston fell short at 180 all out in the 44th over.
Preston Sunday 2nd XI v Players & Jesters, Friendly
Preston 2nds welcomed Players & Jesters to the Field of Dreams on Sunday. Both sides only had 10 men, but the fine weather was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Skipper David Fleckney decided to bat first. Young Jack Munton fell for a duck, and Kelvin Stark, in his first game at Preston for well over 20 years, made 5. Gambo was out for 11 but Bomber (14) added 30 with Fleckers before getting carried away and missing a huge slog. Fleckers held the innings together with 67 before he too perished against one of the visitors’ army of slow bowlers, and Preston had to be content with 123 for 8 from 40 overs, Taylor Moretti helping to boost the score with a quick 8* at the end.
Tom Maxwell bowled 8 superb overs (1 for 23) in partnership with Rupert Bruce and Gambo (1 for 9 from 6 overs), and at the halfway stage P&J had made only 56 for 2. Runs came more easily thereafter: Taylor Moretti and Jack Munton tried hard to get wickets, and Kelvin Stark managed to grab one with a lovely yorker to cap a pleasing return to the FoD. The visitors got home by 7 wickets, and everyone retired to the Lion to continue enjoying the day’s sunshine.
Trivia: have a close look at the photo in the pavilion from Preston v Leicestershire in 1989, and you’ll see a young Kelvin Stark in the Preston squad that day.