Park's investment in youth paying off
Knebworth Park s youth policy paid handsome dividends with victory over Saracens Herts League Division One leaders St Margaretsbury. Fielding their youngest ever first team, including four under-18 players, the Park first restricted a St Margaretsbury bat
Knebworth Park's youth policy paid handsome dividends with victory over Saracens Herts League Division One leaders St Margaretsbury.
Fielding their youngest ever first team, including four under-18 players, the Park first restricted a St Margaretsbury batting line-up who have been in formidable form this season, to a meagre 140-5 in a rain-affected 50 overs.
They then survived a mini collapse in the middle order before securing a vital win with a spectacular six.
The win, the team's second in succession, puts the Park up into second in what is turning into an exciting promotion race.
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The game started late because of rain, and St Margaretsbury initially found runs hard to get against the opening attack of Chris Brook and Sam McCrow.
Charlie Randall, 16, was joined in the attack by 17-year-old James Leather who was making his first-team debut.
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Leather, a right-arm medium pacer, bowled two controlled spells to finish with the excellent figures of 3-31 from 11 overs, while Randall was economy personified (0-12 off six overs).
Club coach and captain Jarrod Turner and Steve Gregory put on 45 before Gregory was dismissed.
Turner was then joined by 18-year-old Phil Simpson who made 19 as the pair took the score up to a comfortable 94-1.
Simpson's demise started a slide to 106-5 and set the nerves jangling in the dressing room.
However, Louis Champion, the 16-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, joined McCrow to steady the innings.
McCrow, who had pulled a hamstring in the field, batted with a runner, but decided to deal mainly in boundaries, hitting five fours and that winning six in his unbeaten 27 to secure the precious 30 points.
The Park took their good form into Sunday's county cup tie against a Chorleywood side who were severely weakened as the rearranged date clashed with their annual tour.
Opening bowlers Paul Slade (3-22) and Randall (1-15) put the skids under Chorleywood early on, James Leather (3-10) again showed his great potential, and his twin brother Richard joined in the fun with 2-20 as Chorleywood struggled to set any sort of target, needing a late flurry to reach 78 all out off 28 overs.
Turner's breezy 44 ensured the Park eased home with the minimum of fuss, passing the target for the loss of four wickets in the 15th over.
* The seconds continued the youth theme with a superb fighting effort against high-flying Luton Town and Indians.
After losing two wickets in three overs, opener Josh Roseberry (31) and Adam Ezekiel (43) took the total to 75-2 after 15 overs.
Junior d'Abreu (40) was then the main man with rain stopping play several times. Knebworth were restricted to 183-7 in 46 overs, with skipper Shaun Robinson (25) guiding the side in the final overs.
Young seam bowlers Matt Hutchinson, 15, and Richard Leather, 17, kept it tight at the beginning of the Luton reply resulting in a run out, and then two wickets for Ezekiel left them in trouble at 76-4.
A partnership of 97 threatened to take the game away, but Hutchinson and Leather returned to take a further wicket each to keep Knebworth in the game.
A thrilling match came down to the last over, with Luton requiring six for victory and getting them off the penultimate ball with three wickets intact.
The thirds returned to winning ways by snatching a dramatic 14-run victory away at Luton Town and Indians seconds.
Graham Valentine (34) and Chris Scott (30) took Park to 73-2 off 29 overs, before their dismissals sparked a collapse which saw six wickets fall for just 35 runs.
Rain delayed the start of the Luton innings, and their overs were reduced to 37 as a result.
Luton appeared to be well set at 51-2 with 19 overs remaining.
Veteran seamer Sandy Reynolds took four wickets to leave the match finely poised at 83-6. But Dalvi was left high and dry on 48no as Luton were bowled out for a disappointing 102.
Left-armers Robert Crowe (5-22) and Reynolds (5-33) shared the wickets between them.