Captaincy continues to bring the best out of Basingstoke & North Hants all-rounder Joe Oates.

Since taking the captain’s armband from global traveller Ash Neal, he’s knocked up 246 runs in three innings and led his side to victory in two of his three matches in charge

Oates made 66 – alongside a match-winning 80 notout by Dubs Wood – as Basingstoke beat Rowledge by five wickets and knock the Surrey border side off the top of the Southern Premier Division 1` table.

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Unbeaten in their previous seven matches,  Rowledge’s innings got off to a mixed start as some wayward new ball bowling meant they set off at a decent rate, but wickets fell at a regular interval meaning they would fall to 62-4 in the 13th over.

Zac Le Roux (34) looked in great touch from ball one, striking some sumptuous drives through the covers, before he would fall after the introduction of the spinners.

It quickly became apparent that the slower bowling was tough to get away, with a dry May’s Bounty pitch causing significant turn and some uneven bounce. Notably, Dubs Wood’s 10 over allocation would only concede 13 runs, and his consistently good areas with assistance from the pitch would be the blueprint that Rowledge’s battery of slow bowlers would want to follow.

Ollie Baker (70) dug in with the bat for Rowledge, and he was proactive against the spinners and kept the visitors ticking over, whilst avoiding unnecessary risks as he looked to bat deep into the 50 overs.

Oates (4-32) and Matt Donaldson (3-42) chipped away while Baker received some useful assistance from 17-year old Ryan Littlewood (21), but it was his excellent knock of 70 that would give Rowledge a reasonable score of 192 to defend.

With a dry pitch only getting more difficult as the day progressed, Rowledge opted to open the bowling with two spinners in South African  Ash-Lee Harvey and the left-arm of Ollie Baker.

They were immediately put under pressure as Dubs Wood looked to be positive and struck several boundaries early on.

However, Rowledge steadily built pressure as their spin bowlers were well supported by some good ground fielding early on. The five-pronged spin attack for Rowledge were threatening, with Max Martin particularly impressive and Harvey very economical.

Though Rowledge were keeping the run rate under control, they missed some crucial chances as Wood was dropped on several occasions. They would go on to rue these chances as Wood was joined by Joe Oates.

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Oates was watchful at first, but then launched his attack. He carefully picked his balls and targeted the short boundary, striking some lusty blows over mid-wicket and timing the ball better than anyone on the day. Though he would eventually fall for 66, he had guided Basingstoke very close to the finish line.

Wood eased Basingstoke over the line with an over to spare. It was his impressive knock of 80 and a captain’s knock from Joe Oates that proved the difference for Basingstoke.

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