Knebworth Blues (167-2, G Tompkins 1-22) beat LILLEY (166 all out, G Tompkins 44) by 8 wickets

Lilley crumbled to their fourth defeat of the season at a muggy Hitchin Town ground as the much touted Lilley pace quartet and a strong batting line up failed to deliver.
Lilley won the toss and elected to bat on a reputed ‘bowlers graveyard’, but it was Lilley’s batsmen who were soon six feet under.  Doug Tomsett, Lilley’s most consistent performer, went in the third over for just 2 and despite two flashing fours, Matt Clarke, in for last week’s centurion Chris Horner, went for 13 soon after.  Simmons and Newland bowled with impressive pace for Blues and the latter ended Brad Tompkins promising start by clean bowling him for 10.
Skipper Smart then introduced himself into the attack and his skiddy left arm spinny-seam things accounted for Perry (3) and Horner (5) and finally Ken Hammond, back in the side for the first time after returning from Canada, for 16.
Gareth Tompkins and skipper Ashby appeared to have steadied the ship when the latter was run out with a direct hit, ambling back to his crease from a rejected single for 16.  Tompkins continued on his merry way, hitting four 4’s and a six and seemed certain to record his first 50 for Lilley.  He succumbed to left armer Higgs for 44 though, bowled attempting a meaty blow.
Taz Qureshi then marshalled the tail to good effect, hitting a blistering 25 not out, whilst Stew Collinson (9), playing some attractive strokes before being bowled by Newland.  Paddington followed for 2, bowled in the final over before tea, and Lilley had posted 166 all out – probably 40 odd runs short of what it should have been.
Lilley were frustrated last year against Knebworth by an opening pair of scratchy Lander and edgey Woolley and the pair appeared again first up for the run chase.  Lander was clearly not over excited about the pace of Ashby and Perry, even with an old ball, and he was promptly snaffled at point by Paddington off the skipper’s bowling.  Isaac scratched around for 20, playing and missing at regular intervals, but he fell to Gareth Tompkins half track loosener, lobbing it to mid off.
Woolley began in much better style to his 2003 edge-fest, but he received two huge strokes of luck as he was dropped behind the wicket by Qureshi off Ashby and then again by Clarke off Perry at slip.  On what was a good track, chances were at a premium and those drops, coupled with a very strong caught behind appeal being turned down, dented Lilley’s hopes.
Woolley hit ten fours in his unbeaten 79 and Newland hit seven in his unbeaten 50 as Blues cruised home despite the wicket-less toiling of big Ken Hammond on his return.  Hammond too was guilty of missing a chance, Perry again the unlucky man, as the big man fluffed a chance in the closing stages in the slips.
The only real plus was a jug and a round from the two half centurions, although Craig almost glassed Clarkey after drinking too much beer…
Not enough runs, too many batsmen getting starts and not going on and sloppy fielding – Lilley need to sharpen up for next week’s visit to Kimpton.

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