Firsts beat table topping Radlett 2nds
After two wet weekends Preston’s sides were back in action on Saturday, led by a memorable victory for the 1st XI against top-of-the-table Radlett IIs.
Ace correspondent Mark Waters reports from the Field of Dreams:
The sun shone finally to see Preston 1st X1 defeat Radlett 2nd X1 in their first 2015 encounter in Div 2A.
Radlett won the toss and decided to take first knock on a flat looking Preston wicket in hot conditions. The new ball pairing of Sam Crea and Mark Waters soon started to cause the Radlett top order some issues, bowling decent lines and lengths. Australian Crea (2 for 10 off 7 overs) got amongst the wickets with two LBW decisions going Preston’s way to send Radlett’s openers back to the pavilion.
With the pitch offering movement and turn, Radlett were never able to settle – only McDowell offering some dogged resistance to accumulate 32 with some determined strokes.
The introduction of Preston’s spin twins, offie Pete Murrell and left armer Max Anderson, turned the game decisively Preston’s way as they destroyed Radlett’s middle and lower orders to finish the visitors’ innings at just 118. Murrell returned superb figures of 4 for 28 from 12 overs, and Anderson took 3 for 20.
The Preston reply got off again to a sensible and relatively stable footing with Hearne and Gallimore putting on 51 between them, but both fell to Radlett’s Foster, who bowled with great control. The usually dependable middle order of Murrell, Ben Hill and David Fleckney failed to make an impact this week as a combination of Foster’s bowling, a great reflex catch from Cohen in the gully to dismiss a wide-eyed Murrell, and some surprising shot selection put Preston into deep trouble at 65 for 5.
However, the experienced Chris Cole, in one his first games of the season, steadied the wobbly Preston ship with a well constructed 28. After he fell LBW, Sam Crea took the reigns with Casey Walker in support, to see Preston over the line in the 32nd over for the loss of 6 wickets.
This was a good team win against the top of the table which gets Preston 1’s back into a groove after the frustration of rain affected games over the last few weeks. We look forward to taking on another impressive-looking side, Northwood, next week.
Preston 2nd XI v Radlett 3rd XI, SHCL Division 5A
A weakened Preston 2nd XI battled hard but couldn’t avoid defeat for the second successive year against SHCL Divison 5A leaders Radlett 3rd XI.
Preston took first knock on another excellent wicket on Radlett’s lower ground, but immediately lost Callum Blair first ball to a simple catch off his leading edge. Matt Burleigh and Richard Gatehouse fought back in a partnership of 85 against some hostile bowling, with plenty of boundaries racing across the fast outfield. After Gatehouse’s dismissal LBW for 34, Burleigh continued to hold the innings together through useful partnerships with James Skirrow and Louis Harrington-Smith (24). Burleigh eventually fell for 84, but Preston’s tail end managed to secure maximum batting bonus points to set Radlett a testing target at 205 for 8.
Despite an early wicket for James Skirrow, a couple of dropped catches and an unsuccessful caught behind appeal cost Preston dear as Radlett steadily and impressively batted their way to victory. Preston’s bowlers were unable to stem the flow of runs until skipper Ashley Catlin (4 for 53) managed to winkle out 4 batsmen to give Preston a faint hope. But Radlett held their nerve and won with 9 balls to spare and 5 wickets in hand.
Fifteen bonus points for the Seconds keeps them in 6th place in Division 5A, but victories for the bottom two sides has closed the gap to the relegation zone and puts the pressure back on as we reach the half way point of the season.
Sunday 1st XI v Holtwhites Trinibis 2nds, Chess Valley League Division 4
A strong Preston Sunday 1st XI almost but not quite beat visitors Holtwhites Trinibis 2nds in the Chess Valley league. The opposition, unbeaten on Sundays for three years, are a bit of a misnomer, as their side contains several of their Saturday 1st XI plus guests from other strong north London sides, although at least Shoaib Malik’s brother (also a Pakistani international) didn’t show up this year to take on the gentle lobs of Mark Smith and Rupert Bruce.
Skipper Pete Murrell, showing great positivity or gross optimism, depending on your viewpoint, inserted Holtwhites after the morning rain had cleared. Sam Crea was soon terrorising the young opening batsmen, although his appeals for “plumb” LBWs were turned down by umpire Murrell Senior. Second slip Max Anderson then parried an edge from above his head into the safe hands of Ben Hill at first slip to give Crea the opening wicket, but Holtwhites middle order proved to be full of high quality attacking batsmen and Preston were soon having to work hard in the field. Pete Murrell suffered the indignity of being belted not just into Princess Helena College but quite possibly out the other side too, and no doubt the ball is still rolling down the A1 towards Welwyn.
There was a bit of a kerfluffle as Anderson won an LBW appeal, although many of us thought there was a significant amount of wood involved. The batsman seemed to agree, doing a “Burleigh” and kicking his helmet towards the pavilion, and then demolishing one of our expensive green plastic chairs that inexplicably melts as soon as the temperature gets above 25 degrees.
Then suddenly it was the Anderson/Hill show as Ben took catches off successive balls from Max, first at extra cover and then at point. Moving to first slip for the hat trick delivery, Hill then managed to drop what would have been a letter-to-Wisden moment of legend. A hat trick all involving the same fielder, in three different positions? Your correspondent has never witnessed that before. But it wasn’t to be and Ben will have to buy Max the pint by way of apology.
Holtwhites managed to take their score to 189 all out off 44 overs, and after tea Preston discovered that the chase was going to be difficult, losing Pete Skeels immediately. Callum Blair failed again, and when Matt Burleigh popped a full toss straight up in the air Preston were in trouble at 28 for 3. Sam Crea belted several boundaries through his favourite leg side before sending a ball vertically into the stratosphere which was then well held. Pete Murrell teased the bowler into trying to bounce him and hooked the obliging delivery over the hedge and into the road, but didn’t have long to enjoy the moment as he fell caught and bowled. Ben Hill and Max Anderson seemed to be Preston’s best hopes and they worked hard to reign the target in. But when Hill fell with about 50 runs still needed and only the last pair at the crease the game seemed up.
But Ollie Gallimore and James Skirrow are no mugs, and through sensible batting and a bit of panache, piercing gaps in the field and running quickly between the wickets, they wore away at the target. Holtwhites’ previously vocal fielders went very quiet, the prospect of the end of their 3 year unbeaten record starting to materialise. Unfortunately, at that moment Skirrow mislaid his common sense, hit the ball straight at midwicket and called the run. Despite being one of the quicket runners in the club, the direct hit left him several yards short and Preston were defeated by 24 runs.