GREG Smith, showing great defiance and patience, scored a century to prevent Finchampstead crashing to defeat at the hands of struggling Slough on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

Some indifferent bowling and a number of dropped catches helped the visitors to make a huge total of 335, with Saif Zaib providing a considerable contribution of 181.

Finch replied with 230-9 after being in danger of defeat at 81-5.

A big problem for them this season has been team selection and on this occasion, they were missing Oli Soames, back on duty with Hampshire, Billy Rogers and Adam Dewes, both unavailable.

Simon Bell returned to keep wicket, while Wellington College pair Mac Keast and Michael O'Donahue were both included as was Connor Corlet.

And the Aussie paceman marked his home HCPL debut by taking 4-69 off 15 overs.

Finch, however, took time to stem the flow of runs, with Slough piling on 100 runs in the first 19 overs and 200 from 33 overs.

Left-hander Zaib and Harish Kakani put on 131 for the third wicket before the latter was caught on the midwicket boundary by Corlet off the bowling of Smith when two runs short of his half-century, leaving Slough 219-3.

Zaib continued to make hay, racing to his century from 85 balls and 150 off 127, but wickets continued to tumble at the other end and the last five went down for 55 runs.

After being dropped four times, Zaib eventually holed out to Dan Lincoln off the bowling of Jones (2-50). His 181 came off 146 balls and included seven maximums as well as 19 fours.

With 62 overs to bat, Finch soon lost the Lincoln brothers, Josh for four and Dan for 16, with Toby Albert (1). Simon Bell (19), Keast (6) and O'Donahue (14) soon following.

But Smith continued to bat sensibly and reached his century from 128 balls in an innings which lasted close to three hours, only for be bowled for 104 by Zaib.

The spinner also dismissed Jones for 29 and Darron Augustus for 24, making it 230-9 and setting up a tense finish.

The latter's resistance ended in the final over, leaving young James Woodford to survive three balls to earn his side the draw and deny second-bottom Slough their third league win of the season.

This coming Saturday, Finch are away to second-placed Datchet, who remain unbeaten from nine games with seven wins and two draws, including one with leaders Henley last weekend.

Then on Sunday, Finch are involved in the HCPL Twenty20 finals day at Amersham CC, facing Banbury in the semi-final (10.30am) with the winners meeting Henley or Tring Park, who play at 1.30pm. The final is scheduled for 4.30pm.

l FINCHAMPSTEAD Women got off to a winning start in the Home Counties Women's League. They bowled out visitors Ealing for 142 with Ashleigh Muttitt and Emily Cunningham both taking three wickets.

Finch reached their target in 23 overs for the loss of five wickets with Rachel Hardy making 42 not out, Freya Johnson 28 not out and Cunningham 38.