A win for the seconds at last, but the firsts fall short
Preston 1sts were left with only themselves to blame after a sloppy batting performance saw them undo all their hard work in the field and ultimately lose out by 13 runs in a low scoring thriller against Hemel Hempstead 2s.
With Hemel winning the toss and electing to bat first, Preston started brightly with the ball and reduced their visitors to a measly 57 for 4 by the 30th over thanks to the excellent new ball pair of Mark Waters and Henry Morecroft. Waters (6 for 56) rolled back the years to bowl unchanged in a sensational display of controlled seam bowling, ably supported by the evergreen spinner Andy Riant (4 for 33). They dismissed Hemel for 114 all out by the 52nd over.
But not for the first time this season Preston lost early wickets in their run chase, reaching the 20 over mark at a precarious 37 for 4 on a dry wicket that was difficult to score freely on. Poor shot selection didn’t help their cause, and Preston were bowled out in the penultimate over for 102 with David Fleckney (45) the last wicket to fall.
Preston 2nds at long last clinched a crucial victory in SHCL Division 5, beating fellow strugglers Hatfield & Crusaders 2nds. The Crusaders elected to bat first, but were soon in trouble as Seb Walton-Adams and Iain Purton picked up a wicket each. Brothers Pete and Tom Murrell then settled into long spells of off-spin bowling, keeping the run rate down and regularly picking up wickets. Tom Murrell proved to be Preston’s chief destroyer, taking 6 for 54 as Crusaders innings finished at 151 all out.
Skipper Matt Burleigh and Adam Shelley got Preston 2nd’s reply off to a fast start, racing the score to 61 after 9 overs as Crusader’s ploy of opening with spinners failed to pay off. But the introduction of a hard new ball set back the innings, as both openers were caught from wicked, lifting deliveries. Then Richard Gatehouse, and later Casey Walker, successfully decided to attack the Crusader’s bowling, aided by the composed veteran Ashly Catlin, who saw Preston to a 6 wicket victory alongside Callum Blair.
Preston 3rds reinvigorated their push towards a promotion spot with a victory at Ware 2nds. The hosts made a competitive 211 for 4 in their alloted 47 overs, but Preston’s strong batting line-up made short work of the target with Martin Pierce (53), Tom Carr (42), Ian Cooper (58*) and Dillon Wright (39*) finding good form.
Preston 4ths inflicted a first defeat on Harpenden 5ths in a closely fought match on Saturday. The visitors asked Preston to bat first, and thanks to 54 from Dave Saunders, 51 not out from David Clark and 43 from Duncan Hoyle, Preston reached 205 for 5.
Harpenden then fell 6 runs short as Hoyle took 4 for 20 and James Skirrow 3 for 39.