Wins for 3rds & 4ths as senior sides disappoint
Match reports from the 15th and 16th August 2015:
Preston 1st XI v St Albans, SHCL Div 2A
A woeful batting display didn’t do Preston any favours when they visited Clarence Park for the first time in a few years to play St Albans CC, who are languishing at the bottom of Div 2A.
St Albans won the toss and elected to take first knock on a very recently prepared wicket. Preston bowled good lines in the main and stifled the run rate with Mark Waters bowling a typically miserly spell (1 for 26 from 10 overs). Sam Crea again bowled with bustle on a wicket which didn’t offer him much help and trapped fellow Australian Tyler LBW for 8 in the first few overs. None of the St Albans batsman particularly threatened or dominated but did dispatch the frequent loose deliveries.
Crea was again utilised in sensible bursts and cleaned up the St Albans lower order in quick time to take figures of 8.5 overs 4 for 20. Pete Murrell (2 for 19) and Max Anderson (2 for 31) chipped in to reduce the St Albans innings to a low and very achievable score of 148.
The simmering brittleness of Preston’s batting line-up then disappointingly reared its head in an otherwise solid season that has produced some record batting in recent weeks. The usually reliable openers of Will Gallimore and Warren Hearne were both dismissed for 0 and an unfortunate run out also saw Crea depart without scoring. At 0 for 3 the Preston innings began in a bit of a mess!
The St Albans bowling really wasn’t threatening but the crazy start to the innings ate away at the visitors’ confidence. Pete Murrell stuck around but always looked nervous and was caught for 22. The next highest score was a defiant Anderson at number 10 with a quick fire 22, showing perhaps the best way out of a situation like this. However, he was caught out and although Callum Blair batted well and confidently lower down the order, he was left stranded on 13 to bring the Preston innings to a close for a pitiful 95.
This really was a must win for Preston and demonstrated that our fragility with the bat is never buried too far away. The players need to take responsibility to compete at the higher level of the league. St Albans even by their own admission were as surprised by the outcome as Preston. Complacency is not a cricketers friend.
However, we dust off and go into next weeks game with renewed positivity and vigour. We move into the final few weeks and some tough games against the league’s top sides and the players must come to the party and work as a team in all areas. Bowling and fielding well has to be backed up with solidity with the bat. Fair play to St Albans.
Preston 2nd XI v London Colney, SHCL Div 5A
Preston 2nds welcomed old friends London Colney to the Field of Dreams, but were put into bat on a pitch that had languished under the covers during Thursday and Friday’s awful weather. None-the-less openers Chris Cole (48) and Matt Burleigh batted steadily against some excellent seam bowling from the visitors, to take Preston to a handy 73 for 0 from the first 25 overs.
However, Burleigh’s dismissal, LBW to one that kept low, led to a crazy 7 balls in which 5 Preston players fell. Ashley Catlin somehow spooned a full toss straight up in the air, and then both Iain Williamson and last week’s hero, Casey Hughes, both played on to their first balls to give the delighted Colney bowler a hat trick and 4 wickets in an over. 73 for 0 had become 73 for 4, and then 77 for 5 when Chris Cole was bowled at the other end next over by a seaming jaffa. When Mandeep Kurana fell in the following over, followed by George Constantinidi, Preston were an incredible 78 for 7 and the bowler had one of the fastest 6 fors anyone could remember. (Faster than Stuart Broad, Aussie readers – Ed.).
Fortunately, 17 year old Will Mercer chose Saturday to play his best innings yet for Preston, soaking up the pressure and with the help of first Andy Riant, and then Ollie Gallimore, lifting Preston out of their deep hole. When Mercer fell for 18, Preston had managed to reach 140 for 9. Then, in his first appearance of the season, Joe Riant showed a distinct absence of nerves to assist Ollie Gallimore to lift Preston to the dizzy heights of 174 all out from 48 overs. Gallimore finished on 31 not out, and Joe Riant 15.
With a competitive total to bowl at, Preston were hopeful they could pull off a victory as Ollie Gallimore picked up two early wickets. But Colney had a strong and experienced team out, and slowly they reeled in the target. With 10 overs left 40 were still needed and Preston’s bowlers and fielders were applying some pressure. But despite a couple of late wickets (including a first in the twos for George C.) Colney got home by 5 wickets with 11 balls to spare.
So the Twos continue to languish in the relegation zone and next week’s match at 3rd from bottom Bentley Heath is suddenly the most important of the season….
Preston 3rd XI v Bentley Heath 2nds, SHCL Div 10B
The 3rd XI smashed Bentley Heath 2nds to record their 5th win of the season in Div 10B. Bhav Patel recorded superb figures of 10 overs, 7 maidens, 3 wickets for 8 runs, and Ian Hamilton was similarly parsimonious in conceding just 13 runs from his 10 overs. Sam Singh picked up 2 wickets, but it was old stager Mark Smith, in a rare Saturday league appearance, who stole the show with 4 for 14 from just 5.3 overs of his deadly slow cobras. Bentley Heath were dismissed for just 98.
In reply, Greig Hearne (31) and Sam Singh (32 not out) took the initiative to ensure Preston got home by 5 wickets in just the 25th over.
Preston 4th XI v Potters Bar 4th XI, SHCL Regional Div 2 East
Preston 4ths had a fine win over an under par Potters Bar at Hitchin Boys School. The visitors were invited to take first knock and soon succumbed to the bowling of Terry Neale (4 for 9) and Jason Williamson (2 for 23), and Bar were all out for 81. Jon Skirrow, Neil Pomeroy and Chris Newell all went cheaply, but a diligent 65 run partnership between Dave Saunders (31*) and Neale (28*) steered Preston home to a 7 wicket victory.
Preston Sunday 1st XI v Stevenage, Chess Valley League Div 3
A strong Preston XI travelled down the hill and across the A1(M) to table-topping (and SHCL Championship side) Stevenage on Sunday.
Skipper Pete Murrell won the toss and chose to bat, and Will Gallimore put to bed memories of his golden duck on Saturday to stroke some early boundaries, before top edging one into the stratosphere and being caught several minutes later at mid-wicket. Sam Crea then joined Matt Burleigh in another big partnership, adding 80 this time before Burleigh was caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 36. Crea made 60, and after he fell the rest of the Preston line-up did their best to find the boundary and run hard between the wickets to take their side to 220 for 9 off the mandatory 45 overs.
An early wicket for Crea got his competitive juices flowing, especially when he had a close LBW turned down against Stevenage’s star batsman Chris Whitworth, and a few words passed between batsmen and bowler in the middle.
Preston’s mood wasn’t helped when the otherwise excellent Shadrach Gittens-Browne was dropped three times, or when snake-charmer Mark Smith also felt he had a plumb LBW denied against Whitworth as he swept across the line and missed.
Before long an easy Stevenage win seemed on the cards as the batsmen found the boundary with some hard and fine shots. But the rather belated introduction of reluctant spinner Max Anderson suddenly changed things as he nipped out Whitworth for 83 and Gittens-Browne for 91. Ollie Gallimore then snaffled two catches including an excellent one from a full-blooded pull shot by Laurie Browne off Seb Walton-Adams, and when Seb then dived to take an awesome catch just above the grass tips, Preston smelt an unlikely victory.
But it was all just a little too late, and Stevenage got over the line to win by 3 wickets.