BASINGSTOKE and North Hants got life in Southern League Division One off to an excellent start, with a comprehensive 109-run victory over a good Sarisbury Athletic side.
The game was Basingstoke’s first in the division following promotion at the end of last season, while Sarisbury won the title two years ago and finished second last season.
It was a real test of the Bountymen’s capability in the new league, but one that they passed in fine style, batting sensibly on a tricky wicket to make 221 before bowling excellently as a unit to dismiss their hosts for 112 in reply.
Things got off to a tricky start as Basingstoke captain Chris Froud lost the toss. He admitted after the match that he would have elected to field on a slightly damp wicket, but instead, the visitors were put in to bat.
Froud and fellow opener Andy Fulton made a decent start, though Fulton was dropped by wicket-keeper Dave Banks off the first ball he faced. They went on to put on 38 for the first wicket, but scoring was tough.
First-change bowlers Dan Goldstraw and Phil Jewell bowled very economically and the innings was 14.2 overs old when Froud was dismissed, trapped leg before wicket off the bowling of Jewell.
Fulton followed him back to the hutch two overs later and while Dan Coombs and Dean Nurse were able to up the scoring rate slightly, the Bountymen were struggling at 82-3 halfway through their innings when Nurse’s attempt to take on spinner Kieran Geyle saw him caught at mid-wicket.
Coombs went on to reach 37 before being caught behind with the score on 100, but his dismissal brought Martyn James to the crease.
On his birthday, James took a couple of overs to assess the situation before taking the game by the scruff of the neck. He put on 31 with new overseas player Andrew Niblett (20), but it was a partnership of 75 off just 10 overs between him and fellow all-rounder Graham Porter (25) that swung the game in Basingstoke’s favour.
Both looked to score quickly, with the ball reaching and even flying over the boundary rope at times. James reached his 50 in 63 balls, going on to make 67 before being bowled out in the final over, but the damage had been done, and Basingstoke’s total of 221-8 looked a good one.
The Sarisbury innings began in a very similar way to Basingstoke’s, with openers Ricky Rawlins and Archie Norris watchful against the incredibly tight bowling of James and Ryan Connor.
Connor was the first to strike, Norris edging him to second slip, but the hosts reached 50 three overs sooner than Basingstoke had, with just one wicket down.
At that point, the game was evenly poised, but a flurry of wickets turned the game decisively in Basingstoke’s favour.
Three wickets in the space of three overs saw the hosts go from 52-1 to 53-4, while off-spinner David Pistorius got a wicket with just his second ball, and two more in his third over to leave the host floundering on 81-7.
Number 10 batsman Goldstraw provided some late entertainment, his 20 coming off very few balls and including three sixes, but spinner Matt Thankachan wiped up the tail, taking the final two wickets in the 33rd over to seal a morale-boosting victory.
Basingstoke and North Hants
C Froud lbw b Jewell 13
A Fulton ct Norris b Jewell 21
D Coombs ct Banks b Miller 37
D Nurse ct Rawlins b Geyle 11
A Niblett lbw b Geyle 20
M James b Jewell 68
G Porter ct Hammond b Jewell 25
M Thankachan ct Hammond b Jewell 3
L Benge not out 3
Total (for 8 wickets, 50 overs) 221
Fall: 1-38, 2-43, 3-77, 4-100, 5-131, 6-206, 7-218, 8-221
J Ingram 10-0-57-0
J Lovett 5-0-31-0
D Goldstraw 10-2-28-0
P Jewell 9-1-34-5
R Geyle 10-0-45-2
M Miller 6-0-21-0
R Rawlins ct Coombs b Porter 30
A Norris c Niblett b Connor 5
P Hammond run out (Coombs) 14
D Banks lbw b Niblett 1
K Geyle st Benge b Pistorius 8
M Journeaux ct James b Pistorius 9
J Lovett b Thankachan 13
M Miller ct Benge b Pistorius 0
J Ingram not out 6
D Goldstraw b Thankachan 20
P Jewell b Thankachan 0
Total (all-out, 32.5 overs) 112
Fall: 1-18, 2-52, 3-53, 4-53, 5-68, 6-81, 7-81, 8-86, 9-112
M James 7-3-13-0
R Connor 7-1-27-1
G Porter 7-1-27-1
A Niblett 4-1-12-1
D Pistorius 5-2-21-3
M Thankachan 2.5-0-11-3
Result: Sarisbury Athletic lost to Basingstoke and North Hants by 109 runs