Alton slipped to a two-run defeat at Sparsholt in the opening round of the Southern Premier League T20 competition on Sunday.

Sparsholt won the toss and chose to bat. Overseas player Joe Merlino looked to play aggressively, helped by the small boundaries either side of the wicket. He was well supported by Sparsholt captain Tom Berzins, who made 21. Alton took three wickets for two runs thanks to good bowling from youngsters Jude Wright and Wilf Bridger. A stunning one-handed catch by Sam Bridger at long-on removed Merlino (56), leaving Sparsholt on 86 for three. Callum Doran made a quickfire 45 off 27 balls before being removed by Alton overseas Bash Walters. Some lower order hitting got Sparsholt to 189 for seven from their 20 overs.

Alton’s chase didn’t start well, with opener Dan Harris bowled first ball by Berzins. This brought Alton skipper Sam Ruffell to the crease, and he looked to rebuild with Wright. Wright and Ruffell went after the bowlers until Wright picked out mid-off. Scott Myers, Abhay Gonella and Ethan van der Linde followed as Alton slipped to 85 for five. Ruffell (96 not out) and Walters (42 not out) manipulated the field very well and reduced the target to 12 from the last over. Berzins bowled four perfect yorkers, leaving Alton needing nine from the last ball. Walters hit the final ball for six, but it was not enough for the Brewers.

Sunday’s defeat followed a seven-wicket defeat for Alton at home to Basingstoke & North Hants in the Southern Premier Cricket League Premier Division on Saturday.

Alton won the toss and elected to bat. They moved cautiously to 17 before losing Aarav Rajnikanth (ten) to a sprawling one-handed catch at mid-on by Matt Deadman. Jude Wright then fell for a duck when he feathered Matt Donaldson behind. Dan Harris (19) was caught pulling with the score on 43, and Alton needed to stabilise. Skipper Scott Myers was next to fall, Donaldson trimming his off bail, and when the in form Ben Rolfs was bowled through the gate Alton were precariously poised on 58 for five. Tom South (34) and Sam Ruffell (25) started the rebuild, grafting to take the total towards 100 before Ruffell was strangled down the leg side off the spin of Dubs Wood. Mark Heffernan (23 not out) joined South at the crease and they rotated the strike well, but with boundaries at a premium the total was going nowhere fast. Alton were finally dismissed in the last over for 142 – a total that never looked to be enough on a good Jubilee surface.

Alton’s bowlers started with ferocious pace and made early inroads into the Basingstoke batting line up, but they could not stem the flow of runs from the bat. Basingstoke approached the total with attacking intent and got home in the 22nd over. Bash Walters, Tom Varney and Wright all picked up a wicket apiece. South was unable to bowl with any effect after tweaking a muscle while batting.