A Trio of Wins for the Trees

Posted by Tony Edwards on 30 July 2018

Langley Manor travelled to Locks Lane with Sparsholt looking to extend their winning streak. With yet another fantastic wicket prepared, Langley had no hesitation in batting first when they won the toss. This instantly paid dividends with the ball racing away to the boundary off the bats of both openers. As the Sparsholt seamers struggled to find their lengths, the run rate passed 7 an over for the first 10 overs and it was looking like a long afternoon in the field for the home side, however the change from seam to spin proved to be critical, with series of dot balls getting the run rate under control.

However loose balls continued to find the boundary, but both openers fell in quick succession with the score on 82 and 89 respectively proving to be a key moment in the context of the game. This began a period of control for the fielding side, with the run rate stalling and wickets falling in regular intervals at the hands of Sparsholt spin trio.  Of the 30 overs of spin bowled, only 77 runs were conceded, and 5 wickets were taken. There was a late flourish for the 9th wicket partnership which added 38 and took the visitors score to a below par 224-9 from their 50 overs. Bowling highlights: Liam Doran 3-28.

The Sparsholt reply also began with a series of boundaries, however they struck with the score on just 39 and then again with the score on 51.  Frith once again stood resolute and began to form a partnership with Doran which added 48 runs before Doran fell for a well-made 23.  This brought in form David Banks to the crease which proved to be a game changing partnership of 84 with both batsmen finding the boundary with ease. Frith unfortunately missed out on his third century of the season as he was given out LBW for 91, but his job was all but completed with less than 50 runs required and overs to spare. Banks once again guided Sparsholt home to yet another run chase this season in the 43rd over with Banks finishing on 52 not out. 

This continues Sparsholt’s unbeaten run and takes them another step closer to securing the Division 2 title but there is still plenty of work to be done as they hop across town to local rivals St Cross this weekend.

Sparsholt’s 2nd XI were this week on the road and heading to the edge of the New Forest to face Bramshaw’s 2nd XI counterparts. With a difficult decision pending from the toss Sparsholt Captain Greg Whiting won and decided to continue from previous weeks and bat first. Sparsholt openers Tom Foster and Josh Williams got off to a slow start which was influenced by some very tight bowling from Bramshaw opening pair of Declan Mason and Ben Arnold who bowled 5 maidens in a row. With a few variable bounces coming from the track a wicket soon fell, Willams fell for 8 after a low bounce caught him LBW.

Foster was next to fall in the 8th over for 16 bringing Jonny Druce and Chris Mitchell to the crease. Mitchell started very well however soon fell to the spin of Jonty Loveless. Two more quick wickets fell leaving Sparsholt 45 for 5 with 30 overs still remaining. Whiting and Alex Stone aimed to steady the ship which involved both batsmen finding the boundary regularly. However after 5 overs Whiting played on from an inside edge for 21. Alex Stone was soon the man in the spotlight who would be the one to keep Sparsholt in the game. Whilst wickets continued to fall he carried on finding the boundary and taking quick runs and soon found himself on a fantastic and what turned out to be a crucial 50. Soon Sparsholt tumbled to 142 all out with Stone making 54 not out.

Having seen and felt how difficult it was for batsmen Whiting and his team remained hopeful they could defend the total. With a fantastic bowling line up Sparsholt started well with Tim Ndowora (1-18) and Mike Doubell starting the proceedings. On the perfect pitch for him, Doubell struck early removing opener Eckton for 5. Sparsholt continued with high intensity fielding coupled with some tight bowling and soon struck twice more leaving Bramshaw 39 for 3 and a great game of cricket shaping up.

Once Doubell had finished with 2-21 from his 9 overs, Josh Williams came into the attack taking a wicket in his second over. More bowling in pairs followed with both bowlers keeping things tight Williams added two more wickets to his tally finishing on 3-26 and Foster taking 1-29. Whiting then took over from Williams with pace pair of Ndowora and Foster at the opposing end heaping on the pressure. Whiting managed to strike leaving Bramshaw on 112-8. 31 was required for the win with two wickets in hand and 14 overs, Bramshaw almost certain it was in the bag. However Sparsholt didn’t give up and carried on pushing and battling the last surviving batsmen of George Gray. Whiting again managed to strike with the last ball of his 5th over leaving him 2-29, however with his main bowlers finished and Williams unable to come back on for another couple of overs the ball was thrown to Thomas Ley.

Again bowling at the death he managed to keep his cool. Bramshaw only needed 4 runs for the tie and 5 for the win with 5 overs left however with number 11 at the non-strikers end George Gray didn’t want to pressure him with the strike so refused 5 singles. The last ball of Leys over was hit straight at Mike Doubell in the covers who saw that the non-striking batsman was halfway down the track so he took a shy. He was unlucky to miss however this triggered Gray to risk it and try take on the single, however some alert backing up from Tim Ndowora saw him grab the ball and get it to the keeper who ran out Gray for 44 and gave Sparsholt a thrilling victory. One of the closest games of the season and a very sporting one provided some great entertainment for both the players and spectators.

Sparsholt now sit on top of the County Division 4 West table and have 5 more games to push on with, hosting Bournemouth at Locks lane next weekend.

Sparsholt 3’s started the day looking for what was rumoured to be their first win at North Walls in 2 years. Littleton & West Hill 2 provided the opposition for this latest attempt at breaking the hoodoo. Sparsholt skipper Adam Trivett won the toss (a positive sign in itself) and elected to have a bat. 

Will Berrill and George Ellis came to the crease and made a solid start to the innings, but the scoring pressure caused by tight bowling and a long string of dot balls told, with Ellis being caught trying to up the rate in the 8th over. Berrill (6) followed next over, bowled with what looked from the scorer’s position like the merest flick of the bail. With the two openers gone it was the task of Cray Sams and Jason Dodd to anchor the innings, but Cray was caught at slip off a thick edge whilst trying to loft a wider delivery over cover off his first delivery, the ball perhaps holding up in the pitch, something that was the become the theme of the day. 

Jason Dodd (43) hit a number of straight 6’s, and alongside Will Selley (25) the innings started to tick along. When Dodd chopped on, Sparsholt were 69-4, Stuart Barlow coming to the crease. His innings of 8 came to an end when he caught sight of Sparsholt’s Chairman loitering by the sight screen and forgot to look at the ball (with inevitable consequences), bringing Will Matthews to the crease. Selley’s useful knock was ended in the 29th over, with James Dorward in at 8. Matthews (1) fell caught &bowled, with the score now 101-7 and he was quickly followed back to the pavilion by Trivett (0) and Bannister (2), to leave Sparsholt 104-9 - Dorward and Emily Dodd now had the task of getting as many as possible. Dodd (0*) survived an lbw appeal and rotated the strike to Dorward (20) as they put on 27 for the 10th wicket, Dorward mistiming a pull and getting caught at square leg to end the innings. 

Trivett and Emily Dodd opened the bowling with aggressive field settings from the off - the first two overs bringing maidens (one bye leaving Littleton 1-0). Trivett’s next over brought two wickets - the first courtesy of an almighty heave from the batsman, allowing the ball to turn and hit the top of off stump, and the second a plumb lbw as the batsman moved across his stumps and was hit on the back foot. Dodd’s excellent line and length bowling resulted in another maiden before the first ball of Trivett’s next over brought another wicket, the batsman being caught at square leg by Ellis with Littleton rocking on 3-3.

Former Sparsholt wicket keeper, Craig Falkingham (55) came to the crease and things settled down for a few overs. Cray replaced Trivett from the rugby club end and, asking for a second slip, he immediately forced an edge that was promptly dropped by Dorward. Dorward, replacing Dodd (5-2-0-10) put down an over of dross before Cray clean bowled the Littleton batsman Thomas with the first ball of his next over. Dorward continued and was able to take a caught & bowled off a leading edge as Littleton batsman Reynolds, another former Sparsholt player, played cross the line, followed by a fortunate wicket as the ball hit bat, rolled down pad, and then agonisingly into the stumps leaving Littleton 42-6. His next over saw the dismissal of Duncombe, cleaned bowled for 6, leaving Dorward with figures of 5-1-3-22.  

Falkingham continued to marshal the strike and keep runs coming, with his partner at the other end looking solid enough to make anxious Sparsholt eyes tur to the scoreboard. Trivett brought himself on again to replace Cray (5-1-1-15) in the hope of tempting the batsmen into some rash shots - the introduction of Bannister from the other end meaning the batsmen had to take risks for runs. This was proved in the first over after drinks, and with three fielders in the deep on the leg side, Trivett was able to take the crucial wicket of Falkingham - a mistimed shot to cow corner seeing Selley take an excellent chest high catch on the run, to the delight of all. Better was to come from Selley in Trivett’s next over. As Parsons smashed a shot straight back past the bowler, Selley ran to his left from long on and took a stunning two-handed diving catch low to his left - rumours that he did so “for the cameras” cannot be verified. The Littleton innings, and the Sparsholt victory, was wrapped up in the next over as Bannister (2.1-0-1-3) had the last man trapped lbw. Skipper Trivett (8-1-5-32) recorded his second five wicket haul of the season as he led his side to victory, in what was an excellent all-round performance in the field.   

With August here, the run in for the end of the season begins with Sparsholt’s first team traveling down to St Cross, can Frith and the rest of the team keep this unbeaten run going? The second team welcome Bournemouth to the Norman Edwards Ground and the third team have a rare weekend off.

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