Ton-derful Stevens scores 140 for Preston

Jack Stevens scored 140 for Preston

Jack Stevens scored 140 for Preston - Credit: Archant

Century not enough for victory however as Ickleford hold on

Jack Stevens struck a record score of 140 for Preston as his side drew with local visitors Ickleford.

Preston skipper David Fleckney won the toss and elected to bat first, but the loss of opener Warren Hearne third ball of the game got the home innings off to a bad start.

Stevens then came in at no.3 and took command with a superb individual performance, one of the best the club has ever seen. Will Gallimore (44) helped steady the ship, and later Ben Hill (33) gave good support as Stevens dispatched Ickleford’s bowling with impressive shots, great power and mature composure in a chanceless performance.

Preston declared on 238-7 after 51 overs while for Ickleford Matt Marsden (3-50) and Nick Timm (4-79) bowled with the most consistency.

Preston’s pace attack got off to an unusually bad start with the normally reliable Mark Waters struggling to find his rhythm.

At the other end, Australian Sam Crea bowled well and worked hard to get something from the wicket.

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Ickleford’s Jack Edwards (32) sent poor balls to the boundary but was not able to capitalise and edged behind off Crea.

Ickleford were soon behind with the required run rate and looking for a plan they started to put the shutters down, with only Tom Gornall (45), Timm (32) and the experienced John Hilliard (32no) making any type of score.

Preston spinners Max Anderson (4-49) and Pete Murrell (2-11 off 11 overs) applied the pressure and they tried to tempt some attack from the lower order but Ickleford held out and the game dwindled to a draw with Ickleford scoring 189-8 from 48 overs.

Preston 2nds and Hitchin 2nds shared a high-scoring draw at Lucas Lane.

Preston won the toss and decided to bat first on an understandably slow pitch and outfield after Friday’s rain.

Openers Matt Burleigh and Chris Cole began cautiously against some tight Hitchin bowling, before Cole in particular began to find the boundary with some big hits.

Burleigh was dismissed for 26 after a partnership of 97, but skipper Ashley Catlin (45) was able to give Cole solid support in another big partnership.

Coming on the back of a run of low scores, Cole was clearly delighted to reach an excellent century before falling for 111 in the 43rd over.

Then, after Catlin’s dismissal, Iain Williamson and Sam Penny both made brisk 21s as Preston finished on 227-3 after their 53 overs.

Preston could have put Hitchin under immediate pressure had a tight lbw decision gone their way and a looping catch to gulley been held, but Hitchin’s openers were able to settle and reached 80 before losing their first wicket.

Tim Porter began to unveil some big hits to worry Preston, and had reached 72 before holing out to a grateful Williamson at long on.

Hitchin then began to lose wickets regularly as Andy Riant (4-42) and Nick Jones (2-61) applied the brakes.

To their credit Hitchin never gave up the chase and despite needing more than eight an over in the final stages Jonny Grey blasted a rapid 50 to keep the Preston fielders nervous.

But catches were held, and Hitchin ultimately finished just short on 216-8 from 47 overs.

Ickleford 2nds batted first against Reed on a difficult wicket and paid the price with a dismal 82 all out.

No.11 Scot Crouch was top scorer with 18 and only Tom Willoughby and Ben Mason also reached double figures.

Reed reached the victory target for the loss of just four wickets with the most successful bowler being Ben Mason who took 3-17.

Ickleford 3rds drew with Hatfield and Crusaders. Crusaders amassed 213-7 against a weakened Ickleford attack with Nick Webb taking 4-47.

In reply, Ickleford made 151-8 with Dave Pursey scoring 62 on his return to the team and Kevin Shinner 25.

But the lack of batting strength showed as Webb steered Ickleford to a draw.