Preston draw with leaders St Margs
Preston had to settle for a draw against table toppers St Margaretsbury in SHL Division 2 on Saturday after another disappointing batting display cost them any chance of victory.
On winning the toss and electing to bat first the Saints made excellent progress on a decent pitch, reaching 104 for 1 by the 33rd over, well placed to accelerate to achieve maximum batting points. But Preston battled hard with the ball and in the field and never really let the visitors to get away from them as Pete Murrell (2 for 30), Max Anderson (1 for 52) and Tim Stevens (1 for 22) picked up wickets. The Saints finished their innings on 206 for 4, thanks largely to the composed opener Giles Tilbury (101*).
Preston set about their run chase in confident fashion, reaching 94 for 2 after 27 overs, thanks largely down to the impressive Jack Stevens (54) in partnership with Jack Morecroft (25). This left Preston a very gettable 113 runs to win in 20 overs with 8 wickets in hand. However, any chance Preston had of victory was lost in a crazy 4 over period which saw them lose 4 wickets without scoring, due to some poor shot selections and some decent bowling. Suddenly 105 for 6, Preston were left with little option than to bat out for the draw and to gain some important batting points. Pete Murrell (35*) along with James Skirrow (9*) showed plenty of determination in helping Preston to finish on 161 for 8 from their allocated overs.
A weakened Preston 2nd XI side battled hard at Radlett thirds but an ordinary bowling and fielding display ultimately let them down.
Batting first, Preston made a good start through Richard Gatehouse (29) and Matt Burleigh (42). However, when Burleigh was run out after a mix-up with Ashly Catlin (23), Preston suffered a middle order collapse to bring Radlett back into the game. Fortunately, Martin Pierce’s unorthodox and important innings of 38 took them to a competitive final score of 181.
A downpour after tea helped hinder Preston’s bowlers, who struggled to contain Radlett’s opening pair. The introduction of Louis Harrington-Smith’s legspin provided a couple of important breakthroughs, and Andy Riant also managed to get among the wickets. But Radlett’s strong and deep batting line up was still able to take advantage of some indifferent bowling and fielding, and they eventually got home for the loss of 5 wickets.
Preston 4ths entertained Cheshunt 2nds on Saturday and took first knock. Captain Dave Saunders led the way with a stubborn 55. The next best was Ian Hamilton with 23* and then Will Mercer with 17, as Preston posted 145 for 8 in 47 overs. Economical bowling from Hamilton and Terry Neale kept the visitors at bay but wickets were needed. Chris Newell’s 3 for 21 (after wicket-keeping for 23 overs) got Preston right into it, but Cheshunt held out for the draw on 130 for 7. 13 points had been gained with the 4ths now looking for a win at Knebworth Park next Saturday to stay up!