Midhurst put in a dominant performance at home to Andover to win their final match of 2011 and secure fifth spot in the league, the club’s highest-ever finish in cricket’s Hampshire county division one.
After a week of heavy rain, great credit must go to outgoing groundsman Peter Glass, who used all of his experience to ensure the pitch was playable, aided as always by outgoing chairman Sean Kearney.
The unwavering effort and dedication of both is greatly appreciated by all the club’s members and has been of paramount importance in the continued growth and improvement of Midhurst CC in recent years.
Another departing officer of the club, the talismanic Tim Powell, in his final match as first XI captain, led the attack from the front as always - opening with a fierce spell of quick bowling that peppered the Andover opening batsmen, and he was unlucky not to pick up a wicket.
The visitors’ openers played their shots from the outset and, for a while, scored freely.
But despite an unusually-expensive opening couple of overs, Nalinda Premachandra soon found his lines and tied up the opening pair, eventually making a breakthrough as he forced an attempted big shot from the Andover No1 that saw him caught by Powell for a rapid 30.
The visitors looked set for a big score until an exceptional piece of fielding from vice-captain Tim Dixon resulted in a run-out that signalled a middle-order collapse orchestrated by excellent bowling from 16-year-old Ollie Pearce, who took three wickets in his seven-over spell at the cost of just 12 runs.
Premachandra and Jamie Hall also bowled well, picking up two wickets each. Only some dogged batting from the Andover tail saw them reach what seemed a remotely competitive total of 194 for nine from their 50 overs.
From the start of the Midhurst innings the result never seemed in doubt as Dixon and Graham Braithwaite opened the batting at a ferocious pace – the former reaching 28 in next to no time before being caught.
Skipper Powell strode to the crease full of intent. He and Braithwaite proceeded to take the game away from Andover, putting on 112 for the second wicket with boundaries aplenty.
With the hosts just 30 short of victory, Powell fell for a classy 67 that consisted of eight fours and a six. This left Braithwaite and Tom Atkins to finish the job, which they did in style with 16 overs to spare, the former finishing on an unbeaten 71.
When the dust has settled and Midhurst reflect on the season, the disappointment of missing out on promotion will fade and be replaced by a great sense of optimism and excitement as this summer has seen the emergence of a young, talented and ambitious group of players who in time, it is hoped, will successfully take over from seasoned campaigners and continue to take the club forward.