Winning the toss, batting and scoring 226 is usually a recipe for winning or getting the better side of a draw but it was not to work out like that on Saturday as Knebworth lost at home to Pirton.
Things got off to a good start as Nick English scored a second successive 50, this one coming off of just 30 balls. English simply pummelled the Pirton bowling attack, hitting eleven fours and one six in his half century. Another consistency with Nick’s previous 50 was that he brought it up hitting a six, this one a huge blow back over the bowlers head that landed on the roof of the nets.
What didn’t help the team was that Knebworth kept losing regular wickets at the other end. Fellow opener Dave Barwick didn’t get going before departing for 10, and Archie Stephens (7) and Mark King (12) soon followed.
English continued with a few more big strikes before he was out for 65, and when Bobby Orlandi (1) was bowled soon afterwards a rebuilding job was required.
Joe Elliott and John Inman started to do that as they knuckled down and got the pace of the pitch. Having had a few demons in the early overs it was now beginning to play slightly better and Inman in particular took full advantage of some wayward Pirton bowling.
The opposition rotated their bowlers but Inman continued to keep the scoreboard ticking, using his trademark cut shot to very good effect. At the other end Elliott produced some clean striking straight out of the Nick English mould but he then played a loose shot and was caught at point for 28.
With two more wickets falling quickly, it was left to Inman and Guy Johnson (13) to drag the score over 200 and then keep it moving forward.
As Inman brought up his 50, talk on the boundary turned to declarations, but skipper Mark Folwell was nervous given that the 3rd eleven had failed to defend 212 the week before. This decision was taken out of his hands as Inman was caught and bowled for 53 as he tried to move the scoreboard along more quickly and the innings close on 226 all out.
Credit must be given to the Pirton top three who nullified the Knebworth bowlers and were always up with the run rate. The most disappointing aspect of the Knebworth fielding display was the lack of energy and enthusiasm as the opposition got on top, despite Knebworth still having plenty of runs to play with.
Mark Taylor removed one opener but Folwell was forced to juggle his bowling options, using seven bowlers altogether and, at one stage, he had the searing pace attack of John Inman and Dave Barwick bowling in tandem!
This combination did bring about the demise of the two well-set Pirton batsmen but the damage was ultimately done.
Archie Stephens bowled a very good little spell at the death to claim himself a wicket but the Pirton middle order had enough about them to scramble home.
Although Pirton batted well, Knebworth need to look at themselves and the below-par fielding performance that contributed to the defeat.
A disappointing day for the Fourths after last week’s excellent victory and, hopefully, the lessons that need to be learned will be in time for next week.