Pre-season up and running for Welwyn Garden City Cricket Club

Welwyn Garden City's Dan Blacktopp batting

Welwyn Garden City skipper Dan Blacktopp was in superb form with the bat against Winchmore Hill in pre-season. - Credit: DANNY LOO

Welwyn Garden City are in the throes of final preparations for the new Herts Cricket League season - with teams getting the chance to blow off some cobwebs prior to the big start.

The occasions haven't quite been what you would expect from a cricket match. COVID-19 guidelines means no spectators, no changing rooms, no pavilion access, no teas and no bar and the weather over the opening pre-season weekends - bitter temperatures to balmy sunshine - has just added to the surrealness.

Welwyn's first team opened with what was actually a tremendous contest with Essex Premier League Chingford.

The visitors ended up taking the win at Digswell Park by just one run, the decisive moment coming on the penultimate delivery of the 40-over game.

Chingford had batted first and made 215-6 after their 40 overs, Alex Chalker Welwyn's best bowler with 2-20.

But the hosts started well in response and had the 100 up just beyond the half-way mark.

Louis Champion was partly key to this although his wicket, dismissed for 82 with WGC needing a little less than 68 in 12 overs, suddenly swung the tide in the favour of the hosts.

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A tremendous innings by Andy Nolan kept Welwyn in the game as he struck 40 runs in only 29 balls and meant they required just six off the last over.

He was caught four short and then Tom Whitton was out next ball.

Tailender Simon Bridgewater, scrambled a couple but was run out going for the match-tying score.

Saturday's contest saw them play Winchmore Hill for the annual Don Anderson Trophy and this one was much more straight forward.

They walloped 332-6 in 45 overs, skipper Dan Blacktopp scoring a majestic157, while there was 74 for Dylan van der Westhuizen and an unbeaten 71 for the in-form Nolan.

The captain's innings came from 123 balls while Nolan's score was off just 43 balls meaning his pre-season total of 111 so far has seen him face just 72 deliveries.

The reply was dead in the water once Bridgewater got going, the experienced left-arm spinner claiming 4-30 as Winchmore finished on 228 in the 36th over.

Welwyn's seconds have begun with two defeats.

Pat Lynch scored 60 not out and Matt Wells took 3-36 in a 42-run loss to Chingford while Dylan Parker's 45, as well as 43 from Tom Edwards and 32 for Jay Patel, wasn't enough against Winchmore Hill, losing by 12 runs.

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