Unbeaten leaders step on the gas

SARACENS Herts League Division 2 leaders Reed remain undefeated after another fine win on Saturday – this time it was Old Finchleians who came unstuck. Winning the toss, Old Finchleians elected to bowl, and their rounded attack soon paid dividends as the

SARACENS Herts League Division 2 leaders Reed remain undefeated after another fine win on Saturday - this time it was Old Finchleians who came unstuck.

Winning the toss, Old Finchleians elected to bowl, and their rounded attack soon paid dividends as the in-form James Heslam (9) was bowled by D Depala (12-4-30-3).

The same bowler then helped dismiss Tom Fulk (2) and bowled Baz Curtis (31) to leave Reed floundering on 74-3 off 20 overs.

Reed's usually concrete top order had failed and it was left to some sterling play from Chris Jackson (67 not out) to hold the innings together.

He was supported by Marcus Martin (20) and Ed Garrott (14), and Reed started to pick up the runs despite some difficult spin deliveries from Depala Jnr (19-2-48-2) and Somania (14-0-39-4).

Yet throughout the batting turmoil, in which Reed lost the most wickets in an innings this season so far, Jackson held the fabric together to take them to 173-9 off 53 overs.

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Despite the sweltering conditions, Old Finchleians' reply began strongly, with Depala taking a liking to Dale Shepherd's bowling (3-0-26-1).

D Depala (35) and R Depala (41) continued the onslaught on Johnson (4-0-32-0), and at that point Reed were looking down the barrel of a crushing defeat.

However, it took a sharp runout and some kamikaze running for Marcus Martin and Simon Jackson to make a breakthrough.

New bowler William Clarke (6-0-20-2) soon had D Depala caught at square leg, and thanks to a superb Dale Shepherd catch Reed were back in the game.

Depala Jnr (24) who had grafted hard to build his innings then fell to another one-handed grasp by Clarke off his own bowling to leave Old Finchleians on 106-4.

The introduction of Chris Jackson (3-0-7-0) and Ed Garrott (12-4-29-5) slowed the pace of the game, with Garrott removing their entire lower-middle order with his first five-wicket haul of the season.

A niggling 31 from M Depala threatened to save the game for the visitors, but it was Graham Wilson (11.3-2-37-1), in his second spell who won the battle by taking the last wicket to end their resistance on 153 off 38.3 overs.

Reed are now 35 points clear of second placed Berkhamsted.

Captain James Heslam said: "We are happy with the win, and Chris Jackson's innings was central to us posting a competitive score.

"Garrott also turned the screw at the end which helped us push home.

"However, we will all have to raise our game to maintain our current success, and this was by no means a comfortable win.

"Old Finchleians had a great bowling attack and a dangerous top order that certainly had us in trouble early on."

- AFTER two straight wins Baldock came crashing down earth with a 47-run defeat to Leverstock Green seconds on Saturday.

Baldock got off to an excellent start when they took three early wickets, with Alistair Jones and James Peacock turning the screw to leave Leverstock on 30-3.

The introduction of Tim Dean then slowed things further as he tied the batsmen in knots as two more wickets fell.

Leverstock looked ripe for the taking at 58-5, but a sensible partnership of more than 50 propelled them past 100.

The Leverstock tail chipped in and helped them to 149 all out, despite an excellent spell from Dean, who finished with 6-52 from 17 overs.

The Baldock reply was steady and they reached 29 without loss. But when both openers succumbed to rash shots things took a turn for the worse.

The Leverstock bowlers then went to work with most of the Baldock order falling.

Only Andy Payne (27) scored with any ease, but he was left alone as the innings subsided to 102 all out with 11 overs to spare.

The defeat now leaves Baldock in eighth place in the league.

Baldock's Sunday team also suffered a defeat, and despite a spirited display they went down by seven wickets to Houghton Town.

Baldock batted first and reached 150-8 off 40 overs, with Rob Cant getting a fluent 30 and Kal Rayat smashing an entertaining 27 not out late on in the innings.

In reply Houghton were made to work hard for their runs as Mark Lafferty bowled superbly at one end with his left-arm spin, and skipper Graham Letford tied up the other end to leave the hosts 61-1 after 20 overs.

However, the Houghton response was swift and they coasted home with some ease despite the steady bowling.

Youngster Jake Mongston managed to get a late wicket as Alistair Jones hung on to a stinging slip catch.

The seconds also came unstuck in their game against Old Choms seconds, in a tight match that was decided by two wickets.

Baldock made 163 all out, with Richard Watershitting a 79 that was full of boundaries, and Julian Muir chipping in with 18.

In reply Old Choms made 164-8 with their opener scoring an unbeaten century.

The under-13 team secured their first win of the season, beating Preston at Avenue Park.

Baldock scored 150 off 22 overs with Ben Cave, Ryan Batty, and James Casey all making 30.

Preston managed only 70-5.

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