Sparsholt Twice on the Wrong Side of Close Openers

Posted by Tony Edwards on 8 May 2018

There was a degree of symmetry to Sparsholt CC’s first team’s two opening games last weekend. Twice losing the toss, twice fielding first and twice falling narrowly short of what appeared to be just about par totals for an excellent wicket at the Norman Edwards Ground. 

Against Trojans, Sparsholt got off to a good start with Banks getting through the defences of Le Bas early. Both Banks and Haworth kept excellent control with the new ball to prevent Trojans making any real progress. The removal of the opening bowlers from the attack saw a flurry of runs which managed to get Trojans going. However, the introduction of newcomer, 18-year-old Liam Doran began to turn the screw again. 

Whilst keeping control of the game Sparsholt were never able to build enough pressure to enforce any undue risks. With Saeed batting well, Trojan’s entered the last 10 overs with wickets in hand. Trojan’s threatened a total closer to 250 at one point with Mahmood striking the ball cleanly in a faster than run a ball half century. However, the wickets of Saeed who went for a well-made 72 and Mahmood stemmed the flow and Trojan’s eventually closed on a good total of 218. Sparsholt were left ruing a series of dropped catches and bowling 30 extras.  

Sparsholt’s response began well with Haworth and Frith sharing an opening stand of 73 but when Frith fell Trojan’s began to claw their way back in to the game. With the run rate constantly hovering at around 5 runs enough Sparsholt lost steady wickets and crucially when Haworth was run out for a well-made 71. Trojan’s scoreboard pressure began to tell. Whilst never out of the game Sparsholt had failed to exert their control on the game and went in to the final over needing 18. Taylor, making his debut, raised hopes as he crashed a half volley over cover for six and when followed by an edge to third man Sparsholt were left needing 8 from 3 balls. However, it wasn’t to be, and they closed 2 runs short of their visitor’s total. 

Liphook were the visitors for the first round of the National Village Knockout after the initial fixture had been rained off the previous weekend. Liphook batting first looked in complete control early on despite Haworth and Banks bowling tightly again. The wicket appearing to improve even further with twenty fours of warm Sparsholt sunshine. It was the introduction of Lewis Mitchard that brought the breakthrough with the tall seamer breaching the defences of … to crash his first delivery in to the top of off stump. Liphook much like Trojan’s the previous day looked to be heading to a far bigger total than their eventual 186 in 40 overs. 

However just as Covey looked to press the accelerator in the last 10 overs the return of Mitchard brought more wickets, following on from good containing bowling from Frith and Doubell. Mitchard’s first returning over brought with it a hattrick and 5 wickets in total for Lewis, which completely put the skids under the Liphook innings. Ably supported in the last 10 overs by Haworth, Banks and Frith Liphook’s innings fizzled out giving Sparsholt the momentum going in to the interval. 

Sparsholt batted with far more purpose than they did the previous day however still ended up all out 8 runs short of their target. Liphook made an early breakthrough when Haworth was caught at first slip, after the keeper had initial failed to cling on to the first chance. Though Frith and Mitchard appeared to be taking the game away from Liphook with a quick scoring stand that meant run rate never became a problem. However, when Frith fell and then Banks, somewhat unfortunately ended up on the wrong ended of an LBW decision Sparsholt again found themselves under pressure. However, Doubell and Taylor batted positively looking to strike the ball and kept Sparsholt well in the hunt which they remained until Doubell was bowled by Covey. Doubell’s wicket brought about the last rights of the Sparsholt innings as the final two wickets went down for the addition of 2 runs and gave Liphook a hard-earned win.

Whilst the results were not what Sparsholt wanted the performances of newcomers, Doran and Mitchard backed up by the solid keeping of Sam O’Brien bodes well for the Locks Lane club as they go in search of promotion.

Sparsholt's 2nd XI started off their season with a win against Hythe and Dibden 2nd XI. The game initially due to be at Sparsholt was moved to the King George V playing fields in Winchester. The new Sparsholt captain Jamie Skeoch lost the toss and was put into bat on a questionable looking wicket. Opening pair Skeoch (48) and Andy Steggall (13) laid a strong base to start the innings where runs were difficult to come across. The departure of Steggall lead to Chris Mitchell's turn at the crease who contributed 29 before being bowled by C White (4-25). During the last 10 overs Sparsholt suffered a collapse, leaving them on a score of 116 all out.

Knowing how difficult it was to score runs Sparsholt were confident that their score was a defendable one. Opening pair Haidur Ali (2-22) and Joshua Williams (2-5) kept the runs hard to come by and the introduction of Rae Lockyer (3-14) saw the visitors fall to 32 for 5 from 20 overs. Having eased off the pedal a middle order fight back came from Nick Shrive (41*) and Richard Froggett (34) taking the game to a nail biting finale. The wicket of Froggett lead to a collapse of the tail end leaving Hythe and Dibden all out for 106 and giving Sparsholt a close 10 run victory.

Sparsholt’s third team were forced to watch from the side-lines as Compton & Chandlers Ford cancelled their fixture due to the poor run of weather earlier in that week meaning their ground was not fit for play.

This coming week, Sparsholt’s first team welcome Rowledge, while the second team take a trip down to Winton and the third team look to kick off their season with a win over Odiham & Greywell at North Walls.

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