Cricketers across the borough got back to action at the weekend as the 2014 league season began in earnest.
> Hemel Town
It was a difficult start to the Herts League for Hemel I with defeat to Harpenden from the top end of last year’s HCPL Division One.
Keeping Harpenden to 233-8 from their 50 overs was a decent effort from Hemel, never letting them get away with a massive score.
Brett Penny took 3-41 from his eight overs and Parth Mehta kept Harpenden quiet with 1-29 from his 10-over stint.
In reply, Brad Finch managed 41 but Herts County captain Ben Frazer kept Hemel quiet with 4-32 from his 10 overs as the hosts were all out for 172
Meanwhile, Old Albanians were promoted from Division Three last year and had an enjoyable start, bowling Hemel II out for just 64 in their first game in their new league.
Putting OAs into bat, Hemel bowled them out for just 145. The experienced duo of Duncan Howard and Bryan Davies taking 3-29 and 4-51 to do the damage.
But the Ahmed brothers did better with Naseer taking 5-15 and Sagir 3-21 as they demolished Hemel’s batting.
Only number nine Duncan Howard showed any defiance with 22 not out.
Elsewhere, Flitwick saw off Hemel III as Hemel were bowled out for 138.
Electing to bat, only skipper Anjam Khan with 53 and opener Chris Nuttall with 41 were able to score runs of any note for Hemel. John Clulow’s 12 was the only other double figure score.
In reply, Flitwick took just 31 overs to score the necessary runs. Opener Phil Gurney (52) led the way as only Phil Freebrey with 3-20 was able to make a mark with the ball for Hemel.
Completing a bad day for the club, Hemel IV were beaten by Hertford.
Dawood Iqbal (49 n/o) and Stan Hayden (16 n/o) managed to put on 65 in the last five overs to put Hemel into a better position, while 35 from Steve Smith and 31 from Chris Wright earlier had been solid but a bit slow.
But it did not seem to worry Hertford as 72 not out from Dave Spring and 67 from Jamie Lawrence saw them home comfortably by eight wickets. Skipper Ben Dumpleton (2-31) was the only wicket taker for Hemel.
On Sunday, the losing theme continued as a quickly put together Hemel Sunday II side were seen off by a strong Long Marston outfit.
Batting first, Long Marston eased their way to 322 - 3 with two batsmen retiring once they felt they had enough runs. The three wickets were split among Jim Langley, Ed Langley and Dave Jenkins.
Then it was batting time and Hemel were run through for just 108. Ed Langley top scored on 19, with Steve Smith (15), Ryan Wilson (11) and Jim Langley (10) the only double figure scorers.
> Leverstock Green
Leverstock Green I kicked off the Saracens Herts League season in winning style, with victories for both their first and second XIs.
Green were inserted at Preston in Division Two, and it needed Kyle Claxton’s patient 40 to guide the local side to a competitive enough target of 138 on a slow track.
In reply, Green took quick wickets – not least through Brad Klosterman, who ended with seven for 59.
Two great spells of seam bowling from three-wicket Adam Thomas helped set up victory, which was secured when Levy’s Tasmanian Marc Simonds took the third of a trio of sharp slip catches to wrap up a five-run victory.
In the other part of a double-header, Levy Green II made light work of their Preston counterparts with a fine run chase to kick off their Division Five season successfully.
Four Green bowlers took two wickets apiece as Green held Preston to 172 at Bedmond Road, before Nahim Iqbal’s unbeaten 109 steered Levy to a comfortable seven-wicket triumph.
In Division Nine, Leverstock Green III lost to Abbots Langley III by 52 runs. Brett Baney and Ash Ali snared three victims apiece in the field as Abbots set Green 150 for victory.
Skipper Gareth Tucker (24) was the only Green batsman to offer any challenge to a convincing Abbots victory.
Berkhamsted I lost their first game of the season at home to Northampton Exiles I in disappointing fashion.
Despite starting well enough at 72-2, wickets fell at regular intervals as Berko subsided to a meagre 119 all out.
In reply, Riaz Richards took 3-53, but Berko could not defend their total and Northampton ran out easy five-wicket winners.
Berkhamsted II travelled to Northampton Exiles II and secured a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
Tight bowling and some poor batting saw Northampton skittled out for 41.
Steve Dight took 5-7 off 12 miserly overs, and debutante Nick Williams snared 3-9 in equally tight fashion.
Berkhamsted were barely troubled in reply and reached their total for the loss of only one wicket
Berkhamsted Sunday I played their first fixture of the season against Rivets.
Batting first, Berko were soon in trouble with a run out in the first over.
Wickets fell steadily with Berko looking down the barrel at 28-5.
Enter colt and man of the match Tom Pierleoni who scored a majestic 57 not, with some good support from Guy Lewis and Robert Prunty.
The tail wagged and Berko posted a competitive score of 143-9 in their 40 overs.
In reply Rivets started well with a first wicket partnership of 30 in quick time, but wickets fell steadily as Rivets middle order crumbled, with wickets shared around all the bowlers.
Rivets battled until Luke Frey took the last wicket for a 22-run win for Berko.
> Abbots Langley
Abbots Langley I were dismissed for 130, after Matt Dunstone’s marathon 25-over spell had restricted Watford Town to 178-8.
On a slow spongy pitch, Watford Town played very straight, and assisted by some dropped catches, left arm spinner Dunstone (6-64) was the only wicket taker for Abbots.
After a useful start against the new ball, another spinner did the damage, and Abbots were 60-4.
Nick Gurney batted very well (30) in response but ran out of partners, and Watford were worthy winners.
Meanwhile, after being put into bat by Abbots Langley II, Codicote mustered 168-6 off 53 overs.
Credit must go to Lewis and Neil White for good tight spells.
Abbots went out to bat on a solid track and after Harry Khan was snared at gully for five, Will Graves joined Richard Merritt and added 70 for the next wicket.
Another 21 was added when Andrew Rueth joined Graves and it looked like Abbots would get home with ease, only to encounter one of the batting jitters that seem to haunt them.
But with Will showing a calm head, Abbots got home by two wickets with nine overs in hand.
Abbots Langley III started the season well with a convincing win over Leverstock Green III.
Matthew Longworth (21), and Ben Balmforth (66) enjoyed a partnership of 73 runs to take Abbots to 96-3.
Abbots then began to fall away, losing quick wickets with some rash shot selection, but managed a reasonable total of 149.
Abbots went into the field keeping use of the old ball and Matthew Longworth took the first wicket in his spell of six overs.
Paresh Solanki (3-15) supported at the other end and took the next three wickets – one of which was an excellent catch by Graham Bell.
Bob Russell (4-22) then came to the party and Abbots began taking wickets at regular intervals.
The game was finished off by James Allan, taking the last two wickets, as Leverstock slumped to a total of 97.
> Kings Langley
Kings Langley I had a seven wicket loss to Ampthill.
Kings batted first and were all out for 102, with only Duncan Fleming (26) and Tom Sambrook (25) getting into double figures.
Ampthill then cruised to victory, losing only three wickets in the process. Kings’ Mark Brazier took 2-37.
Elsewhere, Kings Langley II were in action against Rickmansworth II.
Kings scored 250-5, with Tony Morton top scoring with 86. He was supported well by Tom Clark (62 n/o) and Jonathan Smith (41).
With the game firmly in Kings’ hands, the match was abandoned with Rickmansworth on 126-8. Dave Percy had taken 4-24.
Kings Langley III recorded a resounding seven-wicket win over Luton Town & Indians IV.
Luton batted first and were skittled out for just 95 as Gordon Sambidge took five wickets and youngsters David Burnell and Toby Hendy chipped in with five between them.
In reply, Sifan Naeem scored 40 and Gordon Sambidge hit 17 not out.