Neither side batted particularly well at May’s Bounty on Saturday. Hook looked to be favourites at tea, having restricted the hosts to 143-9, but Basingstoke seamers Martyn James, Ryan Connor and Graham Porter ripped through the visitors’ batting order to earn their side a 51-run victory in a low-scoring encounter.
There were two key moments in the encounter.
The first came at the end of the Basingstoke innings. Having seen their team-mates fall by the wayside, wicket-keeper Laurence Benge and number 11 batsman David Pistorius came together with the score on 123 and more than six overs remaining.
The sensible money was on the Bountymen failing to bat out their overs and ending up with a score lower than 130, but Benge and Pistorius stuck at the crease until the end, adding a vital 20 runs.
Hook remained favourites on a drying pitch, but the psychological edge that bowling the hosts out would have given them was lost.
That looked to matter little as the visitors got off to a good start with the bat. Hook openers Ben Thane and Jordan Hobday saw off the opening five overs, hitting the bad balls for runs, before Hobday began to break loose, hitting two fours off Connor in quick succession to take the score on to 30.
Quick-scoring Hobday could have taken the game away from the hosts, but his dismissal was the real turning-point in the match.
Having just driven Connor for four through the covers, Hobday was given out from the next ball, the umpire deciding that he had feathered through to Benge behind the stumps.
The Hook batsman was livid, and with some justification, as even the Basingstoke players later admitted that he had hit his pad rather than the ball.
Thane followed his opening partner back to the pavilion in the next over, nicking the ever-stingy James (4-29) to third slip, and Hook collapsed like a house of cards.
Spencer Champ briefly looked like he might get the visitors back into the game, but his hard-hitting cameo ended when he became the first of four victims for Porter.
Number eight batsman Shane Brewer was Hook’s top-scorer, bludgeoning his way to 18 not out and putting on 21 for the final wicket with Anik Divecha, but it was too little, too late for the visitors, who were dismissed for just 92.
Froud’s decision looked a bad one as Hook got some assistance from the surface, with opening bowlers Champ and Brewer causing plenty of problems.
Froud stuck around while wickets fell at the other end on a fairly regular basis, sharing the best partnership of the match with Matt Thankachan, the duo putting on 40 for the sixth wicket.
However, Froud then became the only victim of left-arm spinner Kevin Poulter’s excellent spell, which saw him bowl 10 overs for the concession of just 11 runs, and Thankachan was caught by Hobday off the bowling of an injured Divecha in the next over.
The situation looked dire when Porter was bowled by Divecha, making it 113-8, but Basingstoke’s tail wagged, with the final two pairs adding 30 runs to get them to a total they were able to defend.
Basingstoke and North Hants captain Chris Froud
“I’m really pleased. It was a big game for us. We had won four out of four and wanted to make it five out of five.
“The wicket looked good to start with but after a couple of overs it became apparent that there was a bit more in it for the bowlers than we expected and it was quite difficult to bat.
“We should have got 180 or 190 really though. They bowled very well, with tight lines giving us very little to hit, but a lot of our batsmen gave their wickets away and there were some soft dismissals.
“The sun came out and it was looking a bit easier, so I was doubting that we would be able to defend it. Our bowlers didn’t get off to the best start and after five or six overs it looked like we were going to lose the game.
“Once Martyn and Ryan got into their groove, we started nicking the batsmen off and getting into their middle order.”
Hook and Newnham Basics captain Matt Love
“Basingstoke haven’t played here before this season so we wanted to put some pressure on them to post a score and everything went to plan with the ball.
“Unfortunately, as a batting unit, we didn’t play to our potential and credit to Basingstoke. Ryan and Martyn were superb with the ball and that’s what made the difference.
“As a top five, we have got a lot of experience. We know how to bat and have to do things right. All it took was one good partnership today and we could have won the game.”