Old Albanian record second win in as many weeks

SHL Division Two Old Albanian 260-5 beat Ampthill 240 by five wickets Old Albanian achieved their second Herts League win in two weeks with a dramatic victory away at Ampthill, secured by a wicket from the last ball. Stand-in skipper Alf Rehman had no he

SHL Division Two

Old Albanian 260-5 beat Ampthill 240 by five wickets

Old Albanian achieved their second Herts League win in two weeks with a dramatic victory away at Ampthill, secured by a wicket from the last ball.

Stand-in skipper Alf Rehman had no hesitation in electing to bat first on a good looking pitch. The decision looked questionable when Rehman was out early but from then on the visitors made excellent use of the facilities. Alistair Jones continued his brilliant form making 63, but star of the show was Simon "Cilla" Gray who batted wonderfully throughout the afternoon.

Jones' dismissal saw the arrival of overseas player Kwesi Roy to the crease, who was in typically brutal form and smashed a very quick 40 before a trio of quick wickets saw OA have a slight wobble at 210-5. Gray was still batting beautifully, balancing excellent on-side accumulation and aggressive running with some fluid and effective cover drives. He was then joined by Tom Preest, and completed his century during a 50 partnership from just seven overs, which saw OAs declare on 260-5. Gray ended on 101* and Preest 32*.

Roy opened the bowling as Ampthill began their pursuit of a daunting target and struck early following a mis-timed pull from a short ball. At the other end the rather more wiley technique of Perry Hall also bought early success, as John Smithers held an excellent catch.

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Runs were easier to come by than wickets, and Rehman rotated his bowlers intelligently until the introduction of the left arm spin of Dan Foster appeared to turn the game in OA's favour.

Foster (3-27) has been the find of the season and again bowled a number of testing deliveries in taking quick middle order wickets, including an astounding catch behind the stumps by stand-in keeper Nick Nyugen.

Roy came back for a second spell and returned figures of 4-74 and at 202-9 with eight overs left OAs seemed set for a win. Then as so often happens, an excellent rearguard action from Ampthill appeared to have blunted this ambition. Even the last gasp introduction of Gray's off spin looked like a doomed if positive tactic as his first 3.5 overs passed without real incident.

Gray's amazing match had not finished yet however and the 6th ball of the final over of the game spun viciously past the bat clean bowling the unlucky Clarke who had fought valiantly in scoring 71 and sending the OA fielders into a rapturous celebration of an unlikely victory.

The annual Bill Preest Memorial Game between OA and Sandridge took place on Sunday.

The game is played to celebrate the life and cricketing career of Bill Preest. Bill, who died suddenly in 2005 aged just 37 represented both sides with distinction during the 1980s and 1990s, so the game is a fitting way to remember him.

There are also a number of ex-Sandridge players in the OA ranks, including Bill's brother Tom, who along with Tariq Hassan represented their former club on Sunday.

OA batted first and as ever the opening over was bowled by Sandridge legend Fred Munt to Bill's six-year-old son Oliver. The home side were given a solid start by Gyan Rhodes (19) and Brian Crook.

Crook and Munt are team mates in the Herts Representative Over 70s XI, and the batsman was eventually undone by his fellow veteran, who bowled him with one that was just too close to cut.

OA innings was eventually given much needed impetus by Bill's sister Harriet Preest who showed she'd lost none of her talent, scoring a quick and classy 32 including taking 13 from one Tom Preest over and then having the temerity to dispatch Munt over the mid wicket boundary for six. Harriet was ably assisted by Alf Rehman who continued his solid form with an excellent 59* as OA scored 164-5 from their 40 overs.

Sandridge felt the target was within their grasp but wickets fell at regular intervals, with the opening bowling of Tony Perkins (2-8) being particularly effective. Kim Nyugen was able to blast his son Nick's bowling for a couple of boundaries, but no one other than Hassan (51) was able to play the type of innings required.

The end when it came was quick, with Rhodes' off spin returning the remarkable figures of 3-3 from just 1.5 overs, as Sandridge were all out for 115.

The Preest family would like to thank all those who so generously supported and participated in the game, especially OACC for hosting the event and Sandridge CC who donated �85 from their match fees to the charitable trust for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

For most of the season, OA IIs batting had been fragile and after captain Andrew McCree won the toss and chose to bat first his team were blown away by Parkfield and Headstone and dismissed for just 29 runs in 17.1 overs. Four of the top six scored ducks, and no-one showed the necessary technique and application against the pacy away-swing of Asher (7-21) and brisk in-duckers of Schmid (3-6). Only Sam Russell (13) reached double figures, and in the whole innings there were only 12 scoring strokes, three of which involved dropped catches.

Parkfield and Headstone cruised to the victory target in just 8.2 overs.

OA III were the victim of the weather when the game was evenly poised going into the final quarter of the match.

Flamstead IIs won the toss and elected to put the Old Albanian IVs in to bat. The conditions proved conducive for batting with the OAs putting 143 on the board for the first two wickets (Naran Jagatia 40).

Finding form with the bat, Hiren Amin started notching up the boundaries with twenty 4s and three 6s resulting in him only needing to run ten of his 108 runs. Once he was out progress lessened somewhat with the OAs reaching 252-7 declared after 46 overs.

Flamstead also took advantage of the batting friendly wicket generating five+ runs an over from an early stage.

With wickets hard to come by, the OAs tried everything they could to stem the flow of runs with lightning striking in the distance. However, the batting of Flamstead proved too strong with them reaching the total only minutes before and epic hailstorm chased the players into the clubhouse. Flamsteads 254-4 was made by strong performances from D. Bradbury (77) and M. Westwood (102*).