Alton Cricket Club’s unbeaten home run ends with Sarisbury defeat

Thursday 21st July 2022 6:00 am
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Abhay Gonella
Abhay Gonella (Tindle )

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Alton’s unbeaten home record came to an end on Saturday as they were undone again by Sarisbury.

It was again a case of what could have been for the Brewers as results elsewhere in the league went their way – but it was Sarisbury who took advantage and now sit top of Division one.

On a hot, sunny day at Jubilee, Alton were asked to bowl first. Sarisbury were watchful early on but settled quickly and punished any lose deliveries as they added 50 runs inside the 11th over.

With Bash Walters and Arul Appavoo unable to make the breakthrough, skipper Scott Myers brought himself into the attack.

Tom Mills then gifted Alton their first wicket as he chipped Myers to midwicket where Abhay Gonella completed the catch as the Sarisbury opener perished for 24. The visitors were well placed, though, at 68 for one.

Ricky Rawlins remained and was looking dangerous but when Myers had Sam Floyd caught for three, Sarisbury were 80 for two.

Rawlins continued to score at a good rate as he passed 50 off 63 balls with seven fours.

Cameron Grierson was the next to fall, the introduction of the spin of Freddie Egleston causing the Sarisbury batter to miscue to Dan Harris at mid-wicket as he was dismissed for 24. Rawlins then fell almost immediately for 63.

The accurate left-arm spin of Tom South was difficult to get away. Rawlins, looking to cut South away, could only edge the ball to first slip where Myers took a sharp catch as Sarisbury slipped to 127 for four.

This brought the in-form and hard-hitting Nathan Feltham to the crease, but it was Alton who struck next, Egleston picking up another wicket as he removed Jack Lovett for three as he miscued to Harris at midwicket.

Sarisbury were now 152 for five and South completed a fine spell of one for 27 from his ten overs – but Sarisbury’s long batting line-up paid dividends as skipper Josh Hill and Feltham added 61 in quick time.

Feltham moved to 50 off just 36 balls and when Hill was removed by the returning Walters, Sarisbury had moved to 213.

Feltham continued to attack but his defences were beaten as he attempted to slog-sweep Egleston, the Alton spinner picking up his third as Feltham was bowled for 61 off 47 balls.

Egleston then picked up two more quick wickets to complete a fantastic five-wicket haul.

He bamboozled overseas player Ronan DeGrussa, clean bowling him, before taking a sharp caught and bowled to end with figures of five for 62.

Sarisbury had stuttered slightly to 233 for nine but some handy late runs from Rob Franklin and Sam Hill moved the score past 250.

Toby Salmon ended proceedings with five balls to spare as he clean bowled Hill for 11. Franklin remained unbeaten on 18 as the visitors posted a total of 257.

There were mixed feelings for the Brewers as some chances went down in the field but they had done well to keep the visitors’ total down.

Harris, despite having an injured hand from fielding, opened with Gonella as the Brewers looked to chase down their target.

Things started well with both openers finding the boundary but when Harris mistimed to mid-on off DeGrussa, he was on his way for 12 with the board showing 33.

Mark Heffernan joined Gonella to a warm welcome from the visitors but the pair blocked out the noise to put Alton in a good position.

Gonella completed a composed half-century off 65 balls, but when Heffernan, looking to attack the bowling of Franklin, was caught in the deep for 36, their partnership of 81 was ended – but Alton were well placed at 114 for two.

Myers joined Gonella as Alton continued to accumulate, passing 150 with 19 overs remaining.

Another miscue – this time from Myers as he pulled Josh Hill to midwicket for 24 – left Alton 161 for three, as Michael Heffernan joined Gonella.

The pair added a further 33 but with Heffernan struggling to find any rhythm, he was bowled for 11 and Alton were now 194 for four.

South and Gonella calmed things down as the Brewers passed 200, needing 58 off just under ten overs with six wickets in hand.

With Gonella approaching his ton, a mix-up between the Alton batters turned the game on its head.

Gonella completed a fine hundred as they completed a single, but on turning for two South was left stranded and run out for 14.

It was a disappointing way to bring up what was a wonderful 100 by the Alton opener.

Alton, now 221 for five, gambled by promoting hard-hitting Salmon up the order – but it did not pay off as he was caught at extra cover first ball to leave Alton now 221 for six, still needing 37 for victory with 28 balls remaining.

Momentum was with the visitors and when Gonella tried to scoop DeGrussa over fine leg, Alton had tumbled to 222 for seven.

Gonella departed for 100 off 128 balls – an innings that deserved to be a match winner but Alton were fluffing their lines.

Walters joined Egleston but when Walters was caught for six and Howard Gadsby followed, Alton were 237 for nine, still 21 runs short and with only nine balls remaining – a chase that was at one point under control was now firmly in the visitors’ hands.

Going into the last over Alton required an improbable 16 runs to win.

Appavoo, a handy batsman, struck the first ball for two and when he found a boundary off the next, Alton required ten runs off four deliveries.

A single off the third ball put Egleston on strike and the fourth ball went for two, which meant Alton needed seven off two to win.

DeGrussa bowled the ball in the slot and Egleston looked to clear the ropes over long on, but with the sun in his eyes Floyd managed to complete a difficult catch as Alton were all out for 251 with one ball remaining.

DeGrussa ended with match-winning figures of five for 39.

Alton were again left to rue key moments in the game and the defeat was a huge disappointment and a major blow to any title aspirations.

Alton will look once again to bounce back next week as they travel to second-placed Rowledge.

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