Colney ensure survival with fine victory

Division Three London Colney 252-7 (52) Letchworth II 227-10 (48) AFTER looking good for a mid-table finish for much of the season, only to be pushed back towards the relegation zone by last week s match forfeit and points deduction, Colney travelled

Division Three

London Colney 252-7 (52) Letchworth II 227-10 (48)

AFTER looking good for a mid-table finish for much of the season, only to be pushed back towards the relegation zone by last week's match forfeit and points deduction, Colney travelled to Letchworth II on Saturday.

Colney knew they needed at least one good performance from the last two matches to guarantee Division Three cricket next year, and got it, in an entertaining and enjoyable game.

After winning the toss and batting first Colney were given a 54 run opening partnership by Phil McLaughlin and Adam Buckmaster, who played a series of elegant shots on his way to 31 before falling to a clever slower ball from Edwards.

Colney pushed on and passed 100 in only the 25th over before a spell when Bishton, bowling flighted leg breaks, tied the middle order up in knots and slowed the run rate down.

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Colney's batsmen eventually worked out the bowling and there were 20s for Alex McCartney and Scott Hadley supporting McLaughlin who went on to make 63.

The second half of the innings belonged to Tony Holloway, who struck a hard hitting 65 not out, including three big sixes. Colney were able to declare an over early on an imposing 252-6, a crucial declaration as it turned out.

With runs in the bank, Colney opted for the old ball and an opening spell of spin bowling, and it worked with Matt Bristow claiming a wicket in the first over. Simon Fretter and Uzman Zaman claimed three more when the new ball was introduced after 14 overs, and the home side had slumped to 64-4, with more than 20 overs gone.

It looked a hopeless position, but skipper Bishton hit an attacking 23, and there were similar efforts from Chatfield (36), Booth (32) and Gillham (21).

Colney were forced to go back to spin, and Matt Bristow opened the door with two wickets, before Tim Fretter got at the tail.

The last act belonged to the Letchworth number 10 Hirst who dominated partnerships of 35 for the ninth wicket and then 34 for the last wicket, including a penultimate over where he hit every ball for four.

Although the win wasn't on, with more than 40 needed from the last over, he played the way that had worked for him, attacking every ball.

With one ball left he was on 63 only to pick out Adam Buckmaster in the deep, who pouched the catch and the win for Colney. The result keeps Colney in Division Three next year.

London Colney II also started the day in need of points to ensure they would stay in Division Seven and at home to Dunstable III produced a competitive performance without quite being able to claim the win.

Batting first, Dunstable were pegged back by a tight opening spell from Connor Dow and Trevor Ray, before Michael Newland and Trevor Ray made the first breakthroughs, and with Dunstable taking 32 overs to pass the 100 mark, Colney were on top at this stage. The visiting skipper Cutler lead the fight-back, and despite three middle order wickets for John Gibbons, Colney gave up the next 100 in just 16 overs, with Dunstable looking at a very big total indeed.

Connor Dow returned to claim four wickets in 11 balls to wrap up the innings for 225, and crucially, claim maximum bowling points for Colney.

It was a big total but Colney took on the challenge and after Mitch Bradley (20) and Trevor Ray (17) gave them a bright start, there were runs for Danny Webster-Smith (30), Paul Seymour (43) and Paul Wise (30).

Jerry Fretter (17 not out) and Den Hadley (31) took the match into the final over with 12 required, but when Hadley was run out with two balls to go Colney blocked out for a draw on 217-8 off 47 overs.

The maximum bonus points, from a game played in the spirit of cricket, turned out to be enough to ensure Colney will play in Division Seven next season.