There were contrasting fortunes for Midhurst and Emsworth in the latest round of Hampshire League games.
St Cross Symondians v Midhurst
Hants League division one
Midhurst registered their first win of the campaign in a tense match at St Cross Symondians that hung in the balance right to the end.
After an unlucky defeat at the hands of Ryde the previous weekend, captain Tom Atkins called for a big response.
Strike bowler Tim Powell obliged in the first over when he had the St Cross opening batsman caught behind to a sharp catch from wicketkeeper Nick Gregory.
Having only just been passed fit to play, Powell looked threatening from the outset. Making full use of the muggy overhead conditions and undulating wicket, he combined devastating swing and unpredictable lift to terrorise the St Cross top order.
Another wicket followed as Powell dislodged the other opener with a fantastic in-swinging delivery that clean-bowled him.
Ably supported by Harry Green, returning to the side after a number of seasons away from the game, Powell’s opening spell was again frustratingly cut short by injury.
Green persevered with a nagging line just that frustrated the batsmen and deserved better than his figures nought for 50.
Midhurst’s front-line spin bowler, Nalinda Premachandra, was forced into the attack earlier than he or captain Atkins would have envisaged.
By his high standards, Premachandra struggled to find his rhythm early on. In what might prove to be Premachandra’s final match for Midhurst as he is soon to relocate to Newcastle, the Sri Lankan steadily worked his way through the opposition’s middle order as wickets consistently fell throughout his ten-over spell, which yielded figures of four for 56.
Midhurst had their hosts at 120 for six. Second-change bowlers Tom Atkins and George Reynolds played their part with a wicket each, leaving St Cross at 140 for eight and staring down the barrel of another heavy defeat.
Nevertheless, the combination of good batting, careless fielding and defensive tactics on the part of the visitors brought a tenth-wicket partnership of 80, with the St Cross No10 hitting a half-century.
Reynolds brought the innings to a close with his third wicket courtesy of a fantastic catch at long off by Steve May. However, Midhurst had 223 to chase if victory was to be secured.
They raced to 20 for no loss before Premachandra was trapped lbw. Captain Atkins never really looked at ease and was eventually bowled for 25 in the tenth over with the score on 59.
Composure and level heads were required but Midhurst crumbled from 59 for one to 107 for five after 18 overs.
Midhurst’s sixth wicket fell when Powell was out lbw. With nearly 100 runs still required, victory now seemed a long way off. Nevertheless, George Reynolds, batting at eight, and Chris Adams, who had gone in at No4, batted intelligently.
Adams and Reynolds avoided risky shots and picked up runs when opportunities presented themselves.
Adams, Midhurst’s young vice-captain, led the partnership and produced a match-winning innings of 42. Aided by the measured and watchful support of Reynolds, the pair added 74 for the seventh wicket and brought Midhurst to within 25 runs of victory before Adams was dismissed.
Keeper Gregory, came in at nine to join Reynolds and attempt to steer the visitors over the finish line. The pair batted well before Reynolds’ dogged knock came to an end with Midhurst requiring just two.
Green guided his second ball to mid-wicket and scamper through for a single before Gregory latched on to the final delivery of the over, crashing the ball over extra cover for the winning runs.
Captain Atkins said: “We showed a lot of grit and determination, which was ultimately rewarded with a win. Special mentions must go to George Reynolds and Chris Adams.”
Emsworth v Mansbridge
Hants League div four
After and uneventful first game that concluded with a no-result in the rain against Bashley Rydal, Emsworth were in good spirits to tackle Mansbridge at Coldharbour Lawn.
Emsworth captain Mark Martin won the toss and opted to bat in reasonable conditions and on a pitch that looked good for batting.
But they got off to a poor start as new opener Joe Scott was bowled without troubling the scorers.
Will Pitts and James Swaine looked to take the attack to the visitors, with the former hitting the boundary consistently. Mansbridge bowled well and after the loss of Swaine for 18, they began to take wickets regularly.
Pitts carried on with the attack, scoring a blistering 68 before coming undone.
Jack Mason batted well for 35 before playing an ugly shot - and after that, the tail collapsed. Emsworth were 171 all out in 45 overs - a just-over-par score for the first innings at this ground over the past two years.
It was Emsworth’s plan to make sure they used their home advantage of knowing the wicket would become slow and low in the second innings and this began to materialise with balls keeping low and batsman prodding forward tentatively.
Emsworts openers Mark Martin and injured Lee Gray bowled reasonably tightly, with the latter’s first wicket of the season coming in his fourth over.
Gray beat the bat many times with batsmen taking the edge and nicking the ball to vacant spots in the field.
First bowling change for Emsworth brought Jonathan Riches, who, along with veteran off-spinner Mick Offord, gave the Mansbridge batsmen a lot to deal with.
Riches bowled one of the Mansbridge batsman around his legs and the pitch was becoming unpredictable, balls either keeping low or popping up.
But Emsworth’s lack of control gave Mansbridge the win in the 43rd over after a great partnership from Chris Hall and his brother Kieran Hall, the former unbeaten at the close.
For Emsworth, 37 extras conceded was the deciding factor, while 20 or 30 more with the bat would have changed things.
This week Emsworth face Ferndown Wayfarers.