SIMON Bell blasted a superb unbeaten century – his first in Division One of the Home Counties Premier League – to help Finchampstead end the season with a four-wicket home win over Banbury, writes Dave Wright.

And that may persuade him to carry on playing in 2019.

The wicketkeeper explained: “To be honest, I have had some doubts about keeping up to Premier Division standard and have been thinking of taking next year off, but after this innings I may have to think again.”

Bell, 29, added: “I had a good feeling about this game. It was our last of the season, the pitch was nice and we were up against a side who didn’t have anything to play for, although then neither did we.

“I was really pleased to get a century as it was my first for the team, though I have scored them for the seconds and thirds.”

On another excellent batting strip, Bell was the second centurion of the day, with skipper Lloyd Sabin having made 127 from 129 balls for Banbury, who had elected to bat first after winning the toss. He and Richard West (62) added 100 for the fourth wicket to help their side reach 268-6 in their 50 overs.

For Finch, Zafar Ali claimed 2-33 off six overs, Josh Lincoln 2-46 and Darren Augustus 2-54, both from 10.

Bell, who came to the crease with Finch 9-2, made an outstanding 102 not out off 125 balls, hitting eight boundaries in the process.

He and opener Greg Smith (63) put on 123 in 25 overs for the third wicket, while there was another useful stand of 103 with Ryan Quinn (64) for the sixth wicket.

The side captained by Craig Hodges, had 10 balls remaining when they sealed a magnificent victory on 269-6.

Their sixth win of the year left Finch seventh in the final standings on 209 points.

  • JOHN Reed ended his career as a Home Counties Premier League umpire on Saturday – but he has no intentions of hanging up his white coat for good.

At his own request, he and long-time colleague Ian Royle stood at his local club, Finchampstead, when they took on Banbury in their final game of the year.

He has officiated at 266 league matches since the league being founded in 2000.

In some ways, he was fortunate to attend the last match as the previous week, while officiating at the Thame Town versus Aston Rowant game, he was accidentally struck on his head when a fielder threw the ball in and, with a lump the size of a cricket ball, he was rushed off to hospital.

“I spent the day at Stoke Mandeville, where a CT scan showed no signs of a bleed or fracture, so I consider myself very lucky and grateful to fight another day,” he said.

Before the game at Finchampstead, he was presented with a rose bowl by club president Neil Doody on behalf of the HCPL, while a group of club vice-presidents and supporters gave him an England cricket book and an inscribed ‘blue plaque’.

After some “nice words” from Finchampstead scorer Bob Lane, Reed said: “I am truly humbled by the love and respect I have had from so many friends. It just made all those days so worthwhile.”

As from next year, John plans to continue umpiring for Wellington College, Eton, Harrow, Berkshire Over 50s and, hopefully, other representative games.

He also plans to make a few visits as a spectator to matches at Lord’s – “in order to make use of my membership”.

An umpire since 1985, he was on the Minor Counties panel from 1993 to 2012, standing in 64 championship fixtures and 34 one-day games.

He also stood at international age-group matches and made six appearances at Lord’s, while four overseas tours accompanying the MCC team are also on his impressive CV.