Firsts finish on a high, but seconds relegated from Div 5
Preston completed their Herts Division 2 campaign with a comprehensive 47 run victory over hosts Wheathampstead. The win lifted Preston to an impressive 7th place in the table, and also saw them achieve their highest points total in 8 seasons.
Put into bat, Preston made excellent early progress, reaching 60 for 1 after ten overs. A well constructed 63 from the ever reliable Dave Fleckney, ably supported by both Ben Hill 32 and Chris Cole 26, then allowed Preston to make a brave declaration at 188 for 8 from 49 overs.
Preston’s opening attack of Mark Waters and Henry Morecroft again bowled beautifully without reward as the home side reached 45 for 1 by the 12th over. Not for the first time this season it was the introduction of spin that saw the run rate slow, and wickets began to fall at regular intervals. Evergreen slow bowler Andy Riant (3 for 39 from 16 overs), in tandem with star man Fleckney (5 for 19 in just 3.3 overs) saw Preston dismiss Wheathampstead for 141.
Preston’s 2nd XI were relegated from Division 5 by an agonising one point after a disappointing performance against Welwyn Garden City 3rd XI. WGC elected to bat first, and ground out a challenging total of 188 for 6, Finlay Connah taking 3 for 49 and Seb Walton-Adams 2 for 42. After a bright start from Ashly Catlin (18) and Pete Murrell (21), Preston collapsed to 33 for 3, before skipper Matt Burleigh (36) dug in, ably supported by John Garnham (19) and Iain Purton (17). However, WGC’s tactic of exclusively bowling spin proved decisive, off spinner Jim Sumpter taking 6 for 61 and left armer Maqsood, who gained extravagent turn, 4 for 59. Burleigh was the last man out at 127 as Preston finished a bitter 13 runs short of the two batting points that would have saved them.