A full house of defeats
A poor Saturday for Preston as all four XIs fell to defeats.
Preston 1st XI v Leverstock Green, SHCL Div 2A
Preston entertained SHCL Div 2A leaders Leverstock Green on Saturday, but once again they failed to fire with the bat and let the visitors take home another deserved victory.
Preston won the toss and decided to bat first on a dry wicket. However, they were soon in trouble losing Warren Hearne early to a lonely LBW shout. Will Gallimore started to get into his stride but was caught for 26 and became one of four of Preston’s top order to be caught through poorly executed shots and good fielding.
The dry wicket assisted Leverstock’s bowling with at times exaggerated movement. Only Australian Sam Crea and lower down the order, Henry Morecroft, made double figures. Preston’s innings was totally substandard and finished with only 92 on the board, having used just 35 of their 50 overs. Littlejohn was the pick of Leverstock’s bowlers with figures of 10 overs, 4 for 27.
Having just bowled on a wicket doing a bit for their bowlers, Leverstock’s run chase didn’t start well with the aggressive hitting of Australian Barnard perhaps not being the best way to go about things as he holed out to David Fleckney at mid-on from Mark Waters for 0. Fellow opener Koch also went for 0, caught behind off Max Anderson. Jadeja made an aggressive start and racked up a quick fire 21, but again holed out to Fleckney off Waters.
Just for a moment, it looked like Green were going to make a hash of things. A little bit more pressure from spinners Murrell (6-0-1-13) and Anderson (10-1-2-46) could have made things interesting with more quick wickets, but loose deliveries relieved matters for the visitors as their composed No.3 Claxton picked off the runs. Leverstock’s victory became inevitable as Claxton (35) and Landau (18) took them over the line in 25 overs with several other good players still waiting to bat.
As we move into the final two weeks against strong opponents Radlett and Northwood, we must shape up in all departments to ensure safety in Div 2.
Finally, huge congratulations to Preston stalwart and ex-1’s Skipper Warren Hearne who married the lovely Kathryn on Sunday.
Preston 2nd XI v Bentley Heath, SHCL Div 5A
The seconds fate in Div 5A seems close to being sealed after a crushing defeat away at Bentley Heath, on a poor wicket that proved to offer a high degree of variable bounce coupled with excessive sideways movement.
With the Sun beating down and the surface at least looking reasonable, Preston won the toss and batted first in the hope of placing their fellow relegation candidates under scoreboard pressure later in the day.
Initial deliveries sailed through to the keeper at head height, but when Matt Burleigh was bowled by a delivery that cut back a foot and failed to rise a centimetre above the grass, Preston realised the day was going to be tough. Fellow opener Iain Williamson was caught at backward point trying to break the shackles, skipper Ashley Catlin was caught at slip off a delivery that reared from a length, and Adam Shelley was pinned LBW by another that shot low.
Preston’s middle order batsmen opted to try and hit their way out of trouble, reasoning that a delivery with their name on it was just around the corner. But this tactic also failed as the moving ball merely caught the top edges of their bats and went straight up in the air. At a nadir of 33 for 6 the gig seemed up, although fair play to the Bentley Heath bowlers who knew to bang it in and let the pitch do its deadliest work.
Fortunately Preston’s tail once again came to the rescue. Possibly the slower pace of the later bowlers and a softer ball helped, but Tom Murrell grafted his way to an excellent 31, assisted by Louis Harrington-Smith, Andy Riant, Ollie Gallimore and Nick Jones, and Preston somehow managed to use their full 50 overs and reach 118.
After tea it was no surprise that Bentley Heath, with initimate knowledge of their own wicket, sent in a succession of batsmen looking to slog almost every ball. The “hit out or die trying” mentality quickly saw off Ollie Gallimore and made a swift inroad into the run chase. But at the other end Casey Hughes quicker pace extracted erratic bounce from the pitch. While several thick edges flew over the slips for 4, Hughes was soon among the wickets, taking 3 in a fiery 7 over burst. When Andy Riant tempted a slog straight up in the air for Adam Shelley to pouch, Preston felt they had a chance with Heath 57 for 4. But Hughes was spent, and Heath’s best batsman Olly Hubbard arrived to calm things down. Try as they might, Preston’s slow bowlers couldn’t force another breakthrough and Heath sailed to victory in the 19th over by 6 wickets.
Preston 3rd XI v Northwood 3rd XI, SHCL Div 10B
Preston’s 3rds were disappointed with their performance against a strongish Northwood side. By half time the bowlers at least were pleased with their work, as Northwood posted a gettable 169 for 7. Richard Gatehouse rolled back the years to give away only 20-odd runs from his 10 overs, albeit at a slightly reduced pace from his “pomp”. Sadly the batsmen couldn’t match the bowlers’ efforts. Indeed, Northwood’s total was probably worth a bit more as the long grass of the Hitchin Boys’ School outfield slowed the ball down (the rugby season being just around the corner). Preston were bowled out for 119 in 33 overs for a comfortable defeat.
Preston 4th XI v Baldock 3rd XI, SHCL Regional Div B East
Preston 4ths played Baldock 3rds at the charming ground of Weston on Saturday and were invited to take first knock. John Skirrow raced to 41, Peter Robbins made a stubborn undefeated 58 and Dave Saunders 24 as 171 for 7 was posted. Preston were confident their 10 men would triumph once they had dismissed the Gazeley brothers but despite 4 fine catches from Chris Newell Baldock got home by 4 wickets. However, Preston notched up 16 bonus points!