New season is nearly here

Berkhamsted in the field when hosting local rival Northchurch in a pre-season friendly at the weekend.
Berkhamsted in the field when hosting local rival Northchurch in a pre-season friendly at the weekend.

Berkhamsted rounded off pre-season preparations with a win at home against local rivals Northchurch at the weekend.

Northchurch won the toss and, unsurprisingly, chose to bowl first on a wicket that offered a tinge of green.

The fixture started off as a 50-over one-day format game, but with rain and even hail interrupting proceedings, it was reduced to 45 overs for Berkhamsted and 36 for Northchurch.

Berkhamsted, deprived of their final five-over slog, posted 203-5 from their allocation.

Opener Ian Bartholomew top scored with 80 and put on 70 with wicket-keeper Mark Costin (40). Doug Foster weighed in with a stylish 36 before edging one.

The pick of the bowlers for Northchurch were Darren James (2-36) and Charles Fidler (2-37).

In reply, the visitors finished on 140-8, chasing a revised 162 from 36 overs.

Mark Hobley top scored with 46 before being bowled by Riaz Richards.

Swing bowler James Wright ended up with figures of 2-18, but spin twins James Wyatt (1-32) and Richards (1-9) were probably the top performers of Berkhamsted’s bowling attack. Both bowled a tight line and set good fields, which meant the required run-rate kept climbing for Northchurch.

The game ended with Jack Hunter (1-31) having to defend 22 off the final over which he did comfortably.

Both teams go into their league campaigns this weekend.

Berko face Watford away in the Saracens Hertfordshire League Division Two A on Saturday, while Northchurch visit North Enfield in Division Three A.

Berkhamsted have high hopes for the 2019 season and are aiming to gain promotion from Division Two A, while also going deep in the cups.

The club, who were in for pre-season training at their Castle Hill home from January, have bolstered their ranks with new signings Guy Acott-Smith and Chris Hope.

The first-team have gone down the now-popular route of split captaincy, with former Derbyshire player Alan Gofton retaining the captaincy of the league side, while wicket-keeper and former Surrey and Hertfordshire man Costin takes the reins for the cups.

Middle-order batter Luke Frey has been appointed as the vice-captain.

The club have also been bolstered by the signing of overseas player and seam bowling all-rounder Devon McArthur, who joins from South Africa.

Meanwhile, in other friendly games at the weekend, Berkhamsted’s 2nd XI also beat Northchurch, while the 3rd XI’s game against Mill Hill Village was abandoned due to rain.

The Berkhamsted women’s XI beat Chesham by 47 runs.