A controlled and measured 90 from South Wilts 2nd team middle order batsman Tom Pearce was to prove decisive in their encounter at 2nd placed Hambledon on Saturday.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat on an unusual looking surface, the visitors were in all sorts of disarray early on, thanks to some inspired bowling by Hambledon’s opening bowlers Sam Beagley and Rhidian Chapman. Wickets were tumbling from the first over, Owain Phillips clean bowled for 2. His fellow opener Tom Berzins fell quickly after for just 2 also, and when Joe Cranch was trapped Lbw, this saw Pearce at the crease after just 6 overs with the score 30-3. Further wickets fell and by the time both opening bowlers finished their allocated overs, the score was an ugly 70-6, which turned quickly to 75-7.
However, Pearce was unflappable. With the young lower order batters, he showed faith in their ability, whilst also negotiating his own way through the accurate spin bowling of veteran Ian Turner. With Ben Fisher chipping in with 14 and James Wade 16, Pearce was supported well as he brought up his 50. The final 5 overs brought a flurry of runs, again helped by Matt Burtons improved batting. Whilst he may have only scored 9, the partnership was worth 42 seeing south wilts up to 195. Pearce falling with 2 balls left for a fine 90.
Both teams may have been satisfied at the break but when a super run out by james wade and the alertness of rob pittman to get to the stumps, dismissed captain Will Bond in over 1. This already seemed a key moment in the response. Wade impressed with the ball taking 2-14 in 7 overs leaving Hambledons chase in tatters. Spin trio of pittman, pearce and stearman all took a wicket a piece but it was Fisher who was to steal the show at the back end of the innings. Hambledon fought to 85-5 but Fisher taking 4-14 inside 3.1 overs finished the innings in rapid fashion with the hosts bowled out for 104.
Whilst this wasnt a vintage all round display, it was a huge result for the 2nd team when they looked somewhat down and out after 20 overs. They visit Purbrook this weekend in what looks another stern test.