Alton battle to the end to wrap up convincing victory against Sparsholt

Friday 24th June 2022 6:00 am
Abhay Gonella on his way to 80. Picture by Mark Heffernan (@Heffers31)
A late Covid change saw Abhay Gonella have to miss out (Tindle )

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Alton bowled out their opponents in the final over in their Southern Premier Division 1 match against Sparsholt.

The players may have become a little frustrated by the time it took to end the match, but they produced a solid batting display followed by good bowling and fielding in difficult conditions.

They will hope to build on that when they travel to take on Liphook this weekend.

After failing to take advantage of a promising start last week, Alton were keen to make amends.

A late Covid change saw Abhay Gonella have to miss out, with Ryan Hale coming in to replace him.

One other notable Brewers team change saw the introduction of Zack Gadsby, the nephew of Howard and son of former Alton player Tris Gadsby, who was making his first-team debut for the club.

The visitors won the toss and Alton were asked to bat first on what turned out to be another cold and breezy day at Jubilee.

Things did not start well for the Brewers, Hale managing to edge behind a short wide delivery to the grateful Sparsholt keeper with no score on the board.

Mark Heffernan, who has been struggling for form in recent weeks, joined Harris.

He banished any recent disappointment as the pair added 50 runs inside 11 overs with Heffernan very much the aggressor.

The partnership continued to grow as Harris, after a patient start, became increasingly more fluent. The partnership moved into three figures and not long after both players moved past 50.

The pair continued to put Alton in the driving seat, adding 150 runs in just 180 balls, with 20 overs still to bat.

Harris was moving towards three figures but a sweep shot off the spin of Doran saw the ball fly to deep backward square where Lovell competed the catch, to end a wonderful innings and partnership of 187.

Harris may have been frustrated to miss out on his ton but his 98 off 107 balls had put Alton in a commanding position.

Heffernan then fell almost immediately for a well-made 78 off 118 balls as he was caught by the keeper, again off the bowling of Doran, to leave Alton 187 for three.

This brought Scott Myers and Michael Heffernan together. With Alton in a commanding position, the pair moved Alton past 200 inside the 41st over.

Myers then perished for nine with the score on 202 just as Heffernan found his timing, and he and Tom South added 50 runs in just 28 balls.

With overs running out, Heffernan continued to attack but one shot too many saw Doran pick up his third wicket as Heffernan was bowled for 40 off 27 balls, leaving Alton 264 for five.

Howard Gadsby struck two boundaries before being caught for nine, and South hit 27 off 29 balls as he and Crane took Alton to 286 for six at the close.

With a formidable total on the board, Alton took to the field confident of defending their total.

However, with clouds swirling around Jubilee they were less confident in it staying dry.

The new-ball pairing of Bash Walters and Arul Appavoo got to work with the former finding his rhythm immediately as he reduced the visitors to 20 for three.

Two edges found their way to waiting hands, keeper Heffernan with the first and Myers the second, before Dan Sumner was clean bowled by the Alton paceman.

Debutant Zack Gadsby then got in on the act, as his very first ball for the Brewers resulted in a wicket, Josh May giving a simple catch to South at point, leaving the visitors reeling at 21 for four.

With rain in the air and the run rate under control, Alton turned to the spin of South and medium pace of Scott Myers to try get some overs in quickly.

Doran looked to take advantage as he struck 35, including seven fours, before Myers had him caught and the visitors were now 77 for five.

The 25-over mark passed, which meant there would be a result whatever the weather.

Gadsby returned to the attack and removed Ollie Williams for 32, Myers again taking the catch at second slip, as the visitors were reduced to 113 for six, Gadsby ending with figures of two for 37.

Walters was also introduced as he completed his first five-wicket haul for the club, clean bowling Josh Stanbrook-Tompkins for nought before Tim Simmonite holed out to Zack Gadsby for 42 off 46 balls, including eight fours.

Walters was still not finished as he removed Joshua Williams for four, a sharp catch at short leg from Hale giving him fine figures of six for 24 off his ten overs.

Sparsholt were now on the brink at 139 for nine. However, a spirited fightback saw them add a further 69 runs for the last wicket.

Thomas Ley made 16 with number 11 Ash Lovell making an entertaining 49 not out off 39 balls before Alton finally got the last wicket, when Ley was run out by Crane trying to get Lovell on strike for the last ball.

Sparsholt closed on 208 all out with one ball to go.

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