Silverware in touching distance for the Trees!

Posted by Tony Edwards on 23 July 2018

A critical three game period which began on 7th July when Sparsholt avenged their solitary defeat to Trojans in the opening game of the year has seen them put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack at the top of SPCL 2. The previous week’s batting performance at Rowledge would have ranked as one of their best run chases this summer however it was surpassed by a superb effort to chase down 203 at Waterlooville on Saturday. A performance that puts them firmly at the top of the league with their destiny now entirely in their own hands.

Having lost the toss and been asked to field on a wicket that was exceptionally dry and devoid of much grass Sparsholt struggled to make early in roads, although they weren’t helped by two dropped chances. Waterlooville progressed to 64 before Liam Doran made the initial breakthrough as Hudson edged behind to O’Brien. Off-spinner Doran given the new ball on a wicket that offered significant spin from ball one. 

Alex Smith was continuing to take the attack to the bowlers finding the boundary regularly in a well-made 58. His stay was ended by Dan Weir who produced a snorter of a delivery that reared from back of a length to take the gloves of Smith and present a simple caught and bowled. That crucial wicket was complimented further as Jeremy Frith chipped in with a couple of quick wickets and at 118 for 5 Waterlooville appeared to be staring down the barrel of a collapse. 

However, Waterlooville continued to pull together meaningful partnerships including an unbroken last wicket partnership of 33 that gave them the highest score at the ground for quite a few seasons. At tea they were definitely the happier of the two teams with Sparsholt needing to put in a big batting performance on a wicket that was deteriorating rapidly. 

The first few overs were negotiated successfully despite some alarming deliveries rearing up and keeping low however as things settled somewhat and with the score on 25 Haworth edged behind. Jeremy Frith (52) set about accumulating whilst defending stoutly building partnerships with first Tim Vokes (15) and then Liam Doran (24). However, when Frith went with the score on 139-4 the game was very much in the balance. 

There are few other people though Sparsholt would rather have at the crease in that situation than David Banks who patiently and surgically continued Sparsholt’s path to victory. Combining solid defence, with strong shots and deft deflections Banks (52 not out) supported superbly by Stuart Taylor (19 not out) brought Sparsholt home with an over to spare to record a 6-wicket victory and 21 crucial points. A victory that looks incredibly comfortable on paper but didn’t quite have that feel at the time. 

Sparsholt now host Langley Manor on Saturday whilst second placed Rowledge play third placed Waterlooville in a key tie.

Sparsholt’s 2nd XI hosted Ellingham at Locks Lane. With skipper Jamie Skeoch away, Vice-Captain Greg Whiting took the reins. Winning the toss Sparsholt decided to have a bat. 

Opening pair Archie Norris and Josh Williams started well finding the boundary with ease in the first few overs. However, Williams, after making a solid start, soon fell bringing in Chris Mitchell. Again, Mitchell started well but again fell relatively soon with Sparsholt 45 for 2 from 10. 

The return of Richard Vaughan, after more than a year out with an Achilles injury, proved to be the perfect partner for Norris. After seeing themselves in both Vaughan and Norris began to fire up and guide Sparsholt into a more comfortable position. Norris was soon caught for a fantastically made 67 and a 91-run partnership with Vaughan. Two quick wickets of Alex Stone and Greg whiting soon put a bit of pressure back on Sparsholt. 

However, Seb Fernando was focused and batted well alongside Vaughan who was soon caught for a crucial 69. This brought Mike Doubell to the crease. Taking their time but also dismissing the bad ball they both managed to keep the score board ticking and take Sparsholt to 246 before Doubell fell for a quick-fire 42 and a great 62 run partnership. Thomas Ley and Tim Ndowora were both required in supporting roles for Fernando who continued to find crucial runs and finished on a great 48 not out. Sparsholt finished on 268-8 from 45 overs. 

Taking to the field opening pair Ndowora and Williams bowled well taking one a piece from their first spell leaving Ellingham 42 for 2 and in a very similar position to that of Sparsholt. This brought on Mike Doubell and Alex Stone, Doubell started very well, however with the short boundary to play with Stone was attacked. 

Without an abundance of runs to play with skipper Greg Whiting took over from Stone and struck gold with the wicket of opening bat Burrett for a well-made 42. Doubell and Whiting continued to bowl well and increase the pressure on Ellingham with Whiting taking another crucial wicket of Pennycate for 37. With 14 dot balls bowled between the pair, the pressure was soon on the Ellingham team and Whiting struck again. 

Bringing back Ndowora and Williams to finish their spells, Ellingham wicket keeper New began to attack and push Ellingham on. Whiting brought himself back on to finish his spell and again managed to find an important wicket at a crucial time in the game, New departed for 55 and Whiting finished with 4-43. With 5 overs left and 45 runs required for victory Ellingham had to attack however some fantastic bowling from Rae Lockyer and Thomas Ley who both kept cool heads at the death and managed to see of the threat. 

Thomas Ley finishing superbly on 2-13 from 3 overs and Rae Lockyer 1-7 from 2 saw Sparsholt to a crucial 30 run victory. 

Sparsholt’s 3rdXI hosted Herriard at North Walls, and on a dry and uneven pitch lost the toss and were put out to field. Herriard were on the front foot a lot of the match with fielders struggling due to the heat and wickets proving to be difficult to get. The visitors kept plugging away and finished their innings on 251-6 with Dave Brown (44) and Will Cheyney (119) scoring the majority of their runs.  

When it came to batting, Sparsholt lost both openers in quick succession with Adam Trivett top edging one to a fielder and one of Sparsholt’s one’s to watch Will Berrill being forced to retire hurt after taking a ball to the helmet and then the elbow, Sparsholt were in trouble.

Contributions from a number of the younger players in the team gave Sparsholt hope of a result but with wickets falling regularly the target seemed to be too much, with Will Matthews (42*) and James Dorward (38*) seeing the innings close with Sparsholt finishing on 172-7. Maximum points from the rest of Sparsholt 3’s fixtures and some luck in other results are what is required to prevent relegation.

T20 action was back at Locks Lane on Sunday as Sparsholt welcomed Gosport Borough to Locks Lane for the quarter final of the T20 Plate competition. 

Gosport won the toss and elected to bowl first on what again looked to be a brilliant wicket. The Sparsholt innings got off to a loose start losing Haworth in the first over, however this meant Stuart Taylor came to join David Banks. Several overs of quality ball striking later, and Taylor eventually fell for 44 with the score 84-2. Banks continued rotating strike before he fell for 51, and the flurry of quick wickets that followed meant that the away side could restrict Sparsholt to a below par score. Fantastic fielding coupled by tight bowling meant that in spite of cameos from Doubell and O’Brien, the home side managed 169-7 from their 20 overs. 

The Gosport reply started well with a steady stream of boundaries coming off the bat of both openers. The score had raced to 39 before the first wicket fell but Lee Harrop continued the onslaught, managing to find the boundary as well as rotate the strike. 

However, wickets were falling at regular intervals and the score was 79-3 when the decisive partnership were at the crease. Tom Larner batted brilliantly, striking the ball cleanly and punished any wayward bowling, it was clear he was going to have to be the man if his team were to complete this chase. 

It was looking a sorry sight for the Division 2 leaders with the visitors requiring just 15 more runs when the 4th wicket fell. However, the penultimate and final overs would prove to be something not many could’ve expected.

Lewis Mitchard managed an over which went for 2 runs and took 2 wickets, must crucially of all was Tom Larner who fell to a high pressure catch by Liam Doran for 53. With the outfield rapid and boundary reachable it still wasn’t done as 13 was required off the final over. With a sensational piece of fielding from Taylor on the first ball of the over denying a boundary, it meant 11 was needed from 5 balls. However, young gun Doubell held his nerve and again took a series of wickets and dot balls to secure Sparsholt an 11-run victory which will take them into the semi-final.  It was a bowling performance very much dominated by the youngsters with Mitchard and Doran taking 2 each and Doubell finishing with figures of 4-27 from his 4 overs.

This coming weekend; Sparsholt’s first and third teams host Langley Manor and Littleton & West Hill 2 respectively, while the second team head down to the New Forest to face Bramshaw 2. 

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