Preston stay top thanks to Balcombe brilliance and ruthless bowling attack

PUBLISHED: 17:17 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:17 17 July 2019

Preston's Lewis Balcombe raises his bat after scoring fifty runs in the match between Preston and St Albans. Picture: DANNY LOO

Preston's Lewis Balcombe raises his bat after scoring fifty runs in the match between Preston and St Albans. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Preston continue their promotion charge as they stayed top of Herts Cricket League Division One with a 44-run win over Sawbridgeworth.

Asked to bat first, the home side put up a score of 208-7 from their 50 overs, as opener Lewis Balcombe top scored with 65.

Sawbridgeworth's response started well, but they fell well short of the required total.

Preston made a strong start to their innings as Balcombe and James Stevens put on 79 for the first wicket, before the latter went for 35.

Balcombe continued to score though and reached 65 in a knock that included 10 fours, but he was finally removed by William Jones.

Jack Stevens then hit 43 as the top order did their job, but the middle order crumbled, with every batsman failing to make more than single figures.

Ben Hill managed a useful 17 not out, while partner Peter Murrell fired 20 as Preston closed out their innings 208-7.

Jones was the away side's best bowler, finishing with figures of 3-36.

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Sawbridgeworth's response got off to a good start, with openers Bradley Oakes and Robert Sanders putting on 77 for the first wicket.

Ben Hill made the key breakthrough when he stumped Oakes for 32 off the bowling of Jack Stevens, and he then Sanders went shortly afterwards for 47.

Then, Murrell and Max Anderson started to do the damage with the ball.

Hill got another stumping, this time removing Jones off Anderson's bowling, before Murrell got Owen Groves for just eight.

Hill completed a hat-trick of stumpings as he got Matt Billings for 21, then Murrell removed two more batsman as Preston's attack started to turn the screw.

The pair quickly disposed of the tailend to win the game, with Sawbridgeworth finishing 164 all out.

Anderson (4-28) and Murrell (4-36) both impressed for the home side.

Preston have a chance to further extend their lead at the top of Division One this weekend when they face third-placed Old Albanian.

They will have one eye on second-placed Langleybury though, as they face off against Kings Langley, as the race for promotion to the Championship starts to hot up with more than half the season gone.

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