Prestwich 1st team were given the perfect gee-up with a hard-fought victory over Walshaw, spearheaded by pro Gihahn Cloete.
Gihahn, nicknamed Gee, cracked an unbeaten century as he steered Prestwich to a target of 230 overs in 37.2 overs, which sends Prestwich moving back up the Premier division table into 5th place.
But this was no one-man show as worthy knocks from Ryan Stanbury (52 off 35 balls), Tom Gibson (33) and Sam Holden (31 not out) were needed to reach the target, as Walshaw had amassed a challenging total of 260 from 49.1 overs. This was reduced to 230 after two short rain breaks, but meant Prestwich had 10 fewer overs to bat with under the Duckworth Lewis method.
The star of the home side’s innings was Dylan Blignaut who smashed 126 in 104 balls, including six sixes.
Walshaw had been kept under wraps in the early part of the game as a tight opening spell from Stanbury, together with Wilf Reeve’s best opening spell of the season, meant progress was steady. Cloete made a super diving catch at gully, off Reeve, to dismiss for Chris Horner for 5, Stanbury trapped Joe Smith-Butler l.b.w. for 8, and Nathan Bailey took a well-judged sprawling catch at mid-on to end the stay of pro Saif Bhojani for 27, off the bowling of Cloete – who could not be kept out of the game for long.
When Jack McClung was l.b.w to Bailey for 22, the home side were 96 for 4, but with the support of Ally Dickson, Blignaut began to strike the ball more frequently into and over the boundary fence. Dickson was stumped by James Wharmby for 39, and Blignaut was finally claimed by Stanbury, caught by Haris Aziz, in the late frenzy for quick runs.
A changed opening partnership of Cloete and Gibson was working a treat – notching up a century stand – until Gibson ran himself out with the total on 109. Cloete then sensibly adopted a supporting role with Stanbury coming to the wicket and he made a characteristically feisty fifty until bowled by Smith-Butler.
Holden ensured there were no hiccups, with one straight six to savour, and Cloete remained 102 not out, from 129 balls, consisting of 10 fours and a six, as Prestwich reached the revised target with 16 balls to spare.
However, the eight-wicket margin of victory does not tell the full story, as Prestwich certainly had to be at their batting best to prevail.
• Stevie Ritchie was in gr-eight form with the ball for Prestwich 2nds when they chalked up an unlikely victory against Hindley St Peters 1st XI.
Qasim Memon top scored with 38 in a below-par total of 129, but Ritchie bowled magnificently to return figures of 8 for 43 from 13.4 overs, and victory was earned by 17 runs.
• Another bowling performance stole the show in Prestwich 3rd XI’s win over Denton 2nds on Sunday, as Karl West grabbed 7 for 18 to restrict the visitors to 121 all out, and the total was passed for the loss of three wickets.
• The 3rds so nearly pulled off a dramatic victory on Saturday, losing out by one wicket to Newton Heath 1st XI. James Mercer could have been forgiven for being a bit rusty, but in his first knock of the season, hit a superb 55 to push his side’s total above the 100-mark.
Newton Heath plunged to 66 for 8, before a late rally edged them home, despite a haul of 4 for 23 from Phil Barrow.
• Prestwich Heat were involved in a thriller in their opening T20 group game last Friday, but lost out by three runs at Clifton Kingfishers.
Cloete made 47, but it wasn’t quite enough to chase down the home side’s 145 for 6, and Prestwich were marooned on 142 for 9.
Prestwich Heat will do battle with Winton Warriors at The Heys this Friday. The 20-over contest begins at 6pm. Entrance is £2 for adults, and £1 for children.
It makes up part of a triple-header for Prestwich 1st team this weekend, as they are in league action on Saturday, at home to Denton St Lawrence, before a trip to the seaside in the second round of the Lancashire Cup beckons, with a plum tie at Blackpool CC on Sunday.