Another Century for Skeoch!

Posted by Tony Edwards on 5 July 2018

Sparsholt stretched their lead at the top of the Southern Premier Cricket League Division 2 with a 5 wicket win at home to Totton and Eling as second placed Waterlooville crashed to a 9-wicket defeat at Basingstoke. 

On a sultry day with the Norman Edwards Ground at it resplendent best there was only one decision to be made at the toss. Unfortunately for Sparsholt Jimmy Taylor called correctly for Totton and Eling who elected to bat. Totton made steady progress to 63 for 0 playing watchfully whilst Sparsholt held exceptionally good lines and lengths on a ground and wicket that was pretty unforgiving. Anything that beat the field raced to the boundary and the ball came on beautifully to the bat. It was perhaps appropriate that Sparsholt should make the breakthrough with a run out as Troy Bound dropped a ball in to the off-side to the left Jeremy Frith at extra cover only for the Sparsholt skipper to throw down the stumps at the bowler’s end with Bound well short. 

Totton’s young top order continued to fight hard as Sparsholt probed away with an excellent spell from Nayan Phagami (7-1-16-1) who removed the threatening Taylor, LBW for 38. Wickets were hard to come by until Frith trapped Ethan Taylor in front which started to open the door for Sparsholt. Wickets were shared around as Totton’s developing side weren’t quite able to capitalise a solid platform.  Kieran Geyle did a good job of shepherding the tail taking them from 175 for 8 to an eventual 208 for 9 in their 50 overs. 

Sparsholt’s reply faltered slightly losing Haworth with the score on 34 and then Doran and Mitchard in quick succession finding themselves 54 for 3. However, the returning Sam O’Brien joined Jeremy Frith in a 93-run stand that killed off any real hopes Totton may have had. The Australian capitalising on anything lose, striking the ball cleanly in a 40 ball 55. With the departure of O’Brien, Frith continued to score freely striking 13 fours and a six in a composed and unflustered 98 not out. 

At the half way point of the season Sparsholt’s first team find themselves top of their division and looking strong contenders for promotion and the title.

Sparsholt seconds travelled to Mottisfont on Saturday and with weather continuing to be very hot the side were delighted when captain Jamie Skeoch won the toss and elected to bat. 

Skeoch fresh from his 146 the previous week once again opened the batting with Tom Foster. The pair put on 69 before Foster drove one to mid off for 42. Mitchell joined Skeoch and both set about the Mottisfont bowling Mitchell scoring 45 with the score on 196 before he holed out. Vokes joined Northern run machine Skeoch who completed his third century in 4 weeks and finally fell for a 117 with score on 240. With maximum batting points achieved Worth 11, Vokes 20, Alex Stone 30 and Tom Proctor 27 took the score to 328 in the allocated 45 overs. 

The Mottisfont bowlers toiled hard in the heat, Bradwell returned 4 for 54 in a tough afternoon in the field. Following some excellent teas Foster and Proctor opening the bowling with a combination of swing and pace. Foster was the first to take a wicket bowling Smith for 9. Skeoch rotated his bowlers and Stone bowled well to take 2 wickets as 14-year-old Williams tied down the batsmen at the other end. 

Williams was rewarded for his tight bowling with a wicket in his third over and two in his fourth including an outstanding caught and bowled, with a return or 4 wickets in his first spell. Further bowling changes brought in Doubell and Lockyer then Tim Vokes to the attack, Vokes took 2 for 10 in 4 overs to leave Mottisfont struggling at 101 for 9. Williams then returned to finish the innings off with a fine catch by Foster leaving Mottisfont 111 all out. 

This was Williams’ first 5 wicket haul for Sparsholt only conceding 13 runs in 6.1 overs showing the depth of talent coming through the junior setup guided by experienced players. Another great win for Sparsholt seconds which keeps them in the title chase at the mid point of the season.

Sparsholt’s third team welcomed Cove IV to North Walls on the last day of June; in what was a glorious summers afternoon, perfect for cricket. Sparsholt’s skipper Adam Trivett was quietly confident of a result today as on paper, Sparsholt has had a better run of results so far this season.

Cove won the toss and decisively elected to field, the Cove captain had obviously checked the weather reports as it was due to get hotter as the afternoon wore on. Third XI regular George Ellis and youngster Jonny Maxwell opened the batting and got Sparsholt off to a slow and steady start. Both openers were selective of their shots and mindful of the field placing. Maxwell was the first wicket to lose as he half-hit one straight into the hands of Duncan Redhead, in what was an outstanding catch, in the 7th over with the score on 23. Trivett took to the crease and moved the score on to 37 before he too chipped one down the throat of Redhead after scoring a quick fire 7. But between the top 4 batsmen, they had seen off the opening bowling pair of Reagan McClean who was bowling fast and furious throughout his spell and Matthew Ashwood who removed the bails of Sunday captain and club stalwart Martin Patterson for a duck (3-35) on the final ball of the 12th over with Sparsholt sitting on 41-3.

New bowlers Ali Ahmed and Owen Moore ensured that the run rate remained slow with some precise deliveries giving Ellis and Greg Whiting, the latter batting with a broken finger, very little opportunity in scoring runs. Ellis fell in the 15th over after being caught behind by Wilson scoring 11. This brought Rob Matthews into the attack and the new pair looked to calm the ship; until Whiting tried to clip one over the ring to the boundary and was caught by Shanti in the 20th over and drinks. Will Berrill joined Matthews senior at the crease, played some very confident shots for a player in his first year of senior cricket and took the total to 90 before he was unfortunately caught and bowled by Ahmed for 13 in what was his final over of the afternoon (2-23). 

Rob’s son Will joined his father in the middle for what Sparsholt hope will be the first of many father/son partnerships. The run rate continued at 2 an over until the last few overs of the match when Rob went for it and after some early success with a couple of boundaries he was clean bowled by the returning McClean. Sparsholt sat on 131-7 with just under 2 overs left. David Bannister joined Matthews in the middle and the mind games commenced as Bannister jokingly came bouncing down the pitch only to realise how quick McClean was bowling before going back to the safety of his crease and only striking one or two balls that he faced though we had wickets in hand. Sparsholt finished their 40 overs on 137-7 with Will Matthews scoring a well struck 18 not out.

Cove started strongly with Duncan Redhead and Jack Wilson opening the batting in fine form. Opening bowlers Emily Dodd and David Bannister looking for wickets early. Wilson was the first to fall with the score at around 30. Redhead was joined at the middle by Mark Wilson and the second partnership not only grew the confidence of Cove, but the heat of the sun was getting the best of some of the Sparsholt field. 

Redhead was eventually dismissed off of the bowling of Whiting, while having some issues getting his line right, due to his broken finger, was showing his maturity as a bowler with the accuracy of length (1-10 from 6 overs). Cove needed less than 40 and had 18 overs to get them in and Trivett could see that the result may not go his way. But that didn’t stop him trying anything he could to try and get additional points with the ball as he adopted an aggressive style of fielding until the end. 

The partnership of Mark Wilson and Ali Ahmed saw Cove home in the 31st over with Wilson finishing his great knock on 68 not out.

On Sunday, T20 action was back at Locks Lane on another magnificent day. Fair Oak batted first and with the pitch again looking like a batsmen dream, a big score would need to be posted. After a couple of tight opening overs, and a wicket falling with the score on 15, Fair Oak began to counter attacked with a barrage of boundaries of the bat of both Craig Bottle and Asad Abbas in a partnership of 73 in quick time. 

However, they both fell in quick session bringing two new batsmen to the crease who struggled to carry on the impetus of the innings thanks to some fantastic seam bowling from Lewis Mitchard who finished with figures of 4 overs 2-14. Jeremy Frith also picked up 2 wickets in his spell at the later stage of the innings.  Wickets continued to fall in the pursuit of a score close to par, however the visitors finished on 142-6 from their 20 overs. 

As is always the case in T20 cricket, the start of the innings is a crucial period of the game where either a batting side can take advantage of the power play or the fielding side can take early wickets to apply pressure on the rest of the run chase. 

Thankfully for the home side it was very much the former with David Banks putting on an extraordinary display of ball striking taking the attack to the Fair Oak bowlers and dispatching the ball to all parts of the ground. He finally fell for 87 from just 36 balls including 12 fours and 5 sixes but the damage was very much done with the score on passing 100 in just the 6th over. The remaining runs were knocked off in a steady fashion with the run chase being completed in the 10th over for the loss of 2 wickets. 

Next week Sparsholt’s first and third teams welcome Trojans and Colden Common & Otterbourne 2 respectively, while the second team are taking a short trip east to Stockbridge for what Sparsholt are hoping to be another winning weekend.

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