Sparsholt Are Premier Division 2 Champions

Posted by Tony Edwards on 22 August 2018

Sparsholt emphatically sealed their first Premier League title with a crushing 9 wicket win at struggling Tichborne Park.

On an overcast day and with the wicket looking green Sparsholt were somewhat surprised to find themselves bowling having lost the toss. With Stuart Taylor handed the new ball alongside David Banks the Sparsholt pair set about dismantling a brittle Tichborne batting line up in a clinical fashion. Taylor kicked things off removing the dangerous Tom Allam as the opener drove through extra cover only to pick out debutant Tom Kimber who took a fine tumbling catch at extra cover. Taylor (3 for 24) only had a couple of deliveries to wait before his next wicket as Ryan Brooks edged to Frith at slip. Banks (5 for 26) then got in on the act dismissing Cheyney, Allen and Bristow in quick succession and the procession continued as Tichborne through a combination of ambitious shot making and excellent disciplined bowling slipped to 57 for 8. Tichborne were eventually dismissed for 72 as Liam Doran got in on the act with the final two wickets.

Despite losing Mike Haworth relatively early on in their reply Sparsholt made light work of their total, despite the ball continuing to move in the air and off the pitch. Jeremy Frith (29 not out) and Lewis Mitchard (33 not out) eased Sparsholt to their victory total inside 15 overs. At that point Sparsholt were still not mathematically champions as Rowledge needed to drop at least two points to give Sparsholt the title. However, at 5:30pm the news came through that Rowledge had only made 185 in their match, thus handing Sparsholt their first premier league title with two games remaining. 

Sparsholt hosted Sway II at Locks Lane on Saturday. With the hosts needing to win to stay in with a chance of promotion and the visitors needing to win to avoid slipping into a relegation slot it was a key game for both sides. Captain Skeoch won the toss and elected to bat and opened with Mckeever, the northern duet took the score to 24 before Mckeever was bowled for 8. Skeoch followed in the next over for 11 with Sparsholt at 25 for 2 from 9 overs. Mitchell and Foster took their time in rebuilding the innings before Foster was bowled for 15 in the 21 st over. Worth joined Mitchell and quickly went for 1 along with Vaughan for 7 and proctor for 3. At 103 for 5 from 31 overs and some tight bowling from Sway a big push was required to get the score up and obtain some batting points. Mike Doubell joined Mitchell and the pair set about the bowling with Mitchell scoring a classy 93 including 8 fours and 2 sixes. Doubell with a pulled hamstring was unable to run and smashed 53 with 4 fours and 4 sixes to take Sparsholt to 206 for 6.

The Sway innings started steadily with Stevenson and Clark putting on 65 and playing the bowling well. The introduction of McKeever into the attack resulted in wickets falling as he bowled his 9 over spell taking 5 for 30. Steve How remained resolute for Sway and kept the score ticking along and with the score at 159 from 38 overs Sway looked in control needing 47 from 7 overs. Whiting then proceeded to bowl and gentle half tracker which How looked as though he was putting over the hedge the ball travelled towards its destination and just as everyone was expecting a six to be signalled 6ft 5 Tom Proctor leapt defying gravity and the laws of Physics to pluck the ball out of the air within inches of the boundary. This outstanding catch proved to be a game changer as Proctor then chipped in with 3 key wickets to leave Sway needing 17 runs from 3 overs with one wicket remaining. The pressure was visible as a fumble from Vaughan behind the stumps prompted a quick single, Vaughan recovered and through the ball towards the bowlers end where Skeoch with whippet like reactions grabbed it and ran to the stumps giving Sparsholt a valuable 23 points and needing 10 points for guaranteed promotion in their final game next Saturday.

Sparsholt have lined up a potential league and cup double with another solid all-round display against Calmore at Locks Lane on Sunday in the T20 plate. Their reward, a 16th September final date with fellow Premier 2 club Paultons at the Ageas Bowl. Losing the toss on another outstanding Locks Lane wicket; Sparsholt applied pressure from ball one. Calmore were never able to establish any momentum in their innings scoring only 8 boundaries in their 20 overs. Liam Doran took the first wicket as he bowled Darren Vann for 10. Mark Lavelle soon followed, run out at the non-strikers’ end by a sharp piece of fielding by Nick Doubell off his own bowling. Doubell bowling his 4 overs for a miserly 13 runs, picking up the wicket of Ben Johns in the process. Frith, Banks, Mitchard and Doran supported Doubell’s fine effort with tight bowling that sucked the wind out of Calmore’s innings and a steady flow of wickets prevented the Premier Division 1 club from getting a foothold in the game, eventually closing on 101 for 8 from their 20 overs.

The Sparsholt chase took a similar format to the previous day. Haworth struck a couple of boundaries before falling LBW to Lavelle however Lewis Mitchard (51 not out), striking the ball cleanly combined with Jeremy Frith (39 not out) to guide Sparsholt home in 15 overs. Calmore’s bowling had begun tightly, however boundaries began to flow as the overs ticked by. Sparsholt eventually romped home with Mitchard bringing up his 50 and finishing the game with a huge six over mid-wicket to complete a second 9 wicket victory inside two days.

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