South Wilts 2nd XI endured a difficult day on Saturday when they visited high flying Fair Oak in their Southern Premier Division 3 encounter.
The young outfit, seeing a debut to inform Jack Stearman, were not unhappy to be bowling first in conditions that seemed somewhat bowler friendly. Matt Burton was to take the new ball and when his first ball of the day bounced 3 times to wicket keeper Sam Pittman, everyone wondered whether this could be a tough day for all batsmen.
James Wade made the early breakthrough with the score on 10, but with the wicket seeming to behave with the initial hardness of the new ball gone, Fair Oak accumulated steadily and almost knowingly that 180 would be a good score for them. Wade was to take a 2nd wicket with 32 on the board but captain Ed Kemp, joined by Tom Hockenhull were to put on a further 60 for the 3rd wicket. Some steady drizzle just at the wrong time saw the South Wilts spinners struggle with a wet ball, Tom Pearce even being given a warning for a slippery beamer. Rob Pittman was to enter the attack somewhat later than usual but with 3 wickets in the middle period, it checked the hosts advantage they had.
At 134-6 the game seemed to be swaying towards the visitors but at a crucial time, the fielding was to go a miss. Several mis-fields and a naivety in game awareness and management saw the scoreboard tick along quicker than it should. Bullough and Mckenzie were to take advantage of the lacklustre fielding performance and both were to be given a second chance, albeit 2 difficult catches going begging. Pearce was to return to take 2 late wickets finishing with 2-39 and James Wade completing his 10 overs taking 3-38. Pittman also 3-40 but with Fair Oak rallying all the way until the 49th over, they were to post a challenging 203. With 22 wides and at least the same amount given away in the field, on a different day the second xi could have been chasing 150.
In reply, Ross Stewert got the early wicket of Joe Weld, and when Pearce joined Stearman in difficult light and drizzle, it was fair to say the bowling was firmly on top. George Mckenzie was a menace, particularly bowling to 2 left handers, but both batsmen fought determinedly to put on 30. However, when Stearman was superbly caught by Kemp and Pearce fell 3 overs later it seemed only the rain could save the visitors. Alas, the umpires decided play would continue – spectators, players and scorers all huddling under 2 canopies, was enough to suggest that the decision not to go off at any point, was an interesting one. Fair Oak themselves raced around in between overs, knowing that weather may be their enemy, but South Wilts weren’t to offer any resistance themselves. At times it was meek and lacked spirit, and the thought of even scraping up to get a single batting point had vanished within the space of 10 overs. 31-2 turned into 59-6 and with the tail not able to offer any more resistance than the batters, the innings was completed all rather quickly for a sorry 78. Rhys Oxley 5-23 in 7 overs causing the damage.
Needless to say, the visit of Lymington 2’s next week is where the second string will look to put this performance behind them and return to winning and more importantly, spirited ways.