Knebworth Park and Preston win in National Village Cup as Ickleford start season
- Credit: DANNY LOO
Competitive cricket returned with a couple of great results in the National Village Cup.
Knebworth Park turned in a complete team performance as their debut in the competition started with a three-wicket win at Langleybury.
Their Herts Cricket League Championship hosts play two divisions higher than Park but struggled to a modest 179-7 on an excellent wicket.
That was down to a combination of tenacious bowling, committed fielding and collectively following a set plan.
Niels Hart took 2-18 in a fierce opening spell before Archie Stephens claimed 2-20 and 15-year-old Kobie Richmond produced an impressive and mature performance.
There was also a fine catch on the boundary from Gareth Jones to admire and two smart grabs from skipper Adam Sergeant, one low at mid-wicket and a big skier out of the sun at deep mid-off late on.
Richmond also assured with the bat as he opened with an assured 28 and featured in a crucial second-wicket stand with Charlie Randall (51) who played some beautiful cuts and drives.
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Stephens followed with a majestic 46 and the only wobble came in the closing stages when four wickets fell in quick succession.
But with the experienced Al Richmond and rookie debutant Luke Mably at the crease, the latter also dynamic in the field, Knebworth advanced to the second round.
They will now host Tewin on May 9 in round two.
Preston too will be playing in that stage after defeating Sharnbrook & Bromham by four wickets.
Callum Blair and Max Anderson both took three wickets each as the hosts finished on 135 and with Ben Hill (42) and Will Mercer (32) to the fore in the reply, Preston got home in the 33rd over.
They will now play Reed.
It wasn't all victories though as Datchworth went out, losing by seven wickets to Sawbridgeworth.
Ickleford meanwhile had friendly games with Preston as they began their season.
The firsts were put into bat, putting on a creditable 181-8 in their 40 overs with the main contribution being a second-wicket stand of 70 between Sammy Fookes (54) and Eswar Krishnamurthy (37).
Callum Henderson (3-48) and Max Anderson (3-34) were the most successful Preston bowlers
Ickleford bowled tightly in reply and Preston only scored 60 in the first 20 overs.
Luke Marsden led the way with 4-26 from his eight overs while Thomas Brown took 2-35 and they helped Ickleford to an 18-run victory with Preston all out for 163, Philip Simpson's 43 their top score.
The second-team also won by 43 runs after recovering from a disastrous start with the bat.
They were on 1-3 with all three wickets to Bhavin Patel but a spirited 79 from Tom Willoughby led the charge and they looked set for a big score until Mark Waters took 4-16, leaving them all out for 168.
But Preston struggled in reply and it was only Jacob Williamson who held the innings together.
He made 38 not out as they finished on 125 with youngsters Frank Finch (2-19) and Ollie Ellis-Holmes (2-28) doing the damage along with Michael Day (3-24).