1st XI Retain Top Spot

James Hayward hit an unbeaten 103 as South Wilts maintained their lead at the top of the Premier Division by claiming a “winning draw” in what, for the most part, was an interesting match with St Cross Symondians at Winchester’s tree lined Green Jackets Ground.

Hayward struck his first hundred since 2015, having come to the crease with South Wilts an uncertain 76-4 and went on to steer his side to 268-7.

Matt Stokes’s role for St Cross was not dissimilar inasmuch his side lost three wickets in quick succession immediately after tea, but from 69-4 he took them to an eventual 230-7, finishing unbeaten on 98, two runs short of what would have been a deserved hundred.

Tom Morton, with a six-boundary 31, got South Wilts off to a typical flier, which Jack Bransgrove (3-59) checked and before too long the visitors were 76-4 with Steve Mitchell (3-43) sharing the spoils.

It needed some careful progress for Hayward and Ben Draper (34) to see South Wilts through to lunch five down, but with Hayward (and his dangerous array of unorthodox shots) still at the crease a sizeable total beckoned.

A brief rain break failed to dampen Hayward’s thirst for runs and, with a series of sweet timed drives and unorthodox switch, hits he breached the boundary rope 13 times before bringing up his first SPL century in four seasons.

James Hibberd (28) also worked the ball about the field before retiring hurt with a foot injury which later prevented him from bowling.

Nonetheless, South Wilts made it on to 268-7, leaving St Cross 57 overs to chase down the target or, more realistically, score 251 to get the “winning draw”, ie a great share of the points than the visitors.

The runs flowed before tea as teenage duo Billy Mead (24) and Harry Came (29) hit nine boundaries between them.

Came looked in the form of his life after his centuries for Kent seconds in the past week, but he, Mead and Dan Lunn departed within one run of each other to leave Symondians wobbling at 69-4.

Came dismissed by Ryan Murray on his way to his best figures of the season 4-46 and Luke Evans returned 3-61.

Rob Pittman