In the final game of the first half of the season, South Wilts 2nd XI made the trip to Purbrook on a scorching day on the outskirts of Portsmouth.
Whilst on the eye the wicket looked fine and the all round short boundaries looking inviting, it was without hesitation that the visitors chose to bat when winning the toss. However almost from the off it was apparent that the wicket was to deteriorate in the baking sun and when Owain Phillips was hit in the grille from almost a length ball, the innings was solely about posting something that could be defended. Phillips was removed tamely for 12 but when Tom Berzins and Jack Stearman combined to tick things over steadily and bring up a 50 partnership, this put the side in a healthy position. The pitch was always going to do something though and when Stearman was bowled by one that kept remarkably low, hitting the base of middle stump, both he and Berzins were both back in the hutch for 38 and 42 respectively. Rob Pittman came out at 117-4 and was positive from the off, a flurry of boundaries got him and the score moving and while others fell cheaply around him, a fine 53 off 46 balls was a telling contribution. Jayden Atkinson 23 not out at the end of the innings providing a late push to see South Wilts up to a very competitive 212. For the hosts Alex Cox and Tom Amis both with 3 wickets a piece.
In reply James Wade was tidy and posed questions with the new ball, and while Matt Burton struggled for rhythm in his spell, it was he who found the first breakthrough with the score at 29. With spin clearly the way to go now on a very dry, dusty and uneven surface, Pittman and Pearce bowled in tandem posing questions and while Pittman claimed the second wicket, it was the 3rd and 4th spinners who did the damage. Joe Weld got the big wicket of Josh Mccoy for 19 and with Jack Stearman bowling tidily at the other end, the game dramatically turned. At 82-3 the game seemed poised but with conditions akin to a Day 5 pitch in Mumbai, a further 130 runs seemed a long way away. In fact only a further 41 were scored. Stearman 4-14 and Weld 4-20 ran through the Purbrook line up who simply had no answer, and were to be bowled out inside 36 overs for 123.
A strong all round team performance on a challenging wicket sees South wilts second team lie 4th after the first half of the season. A promotion push is clearly the intention for Rob Pittman’s men and with performances like this, it could become a very realistic chance. Next week sees the visit of Portsmouth and Southsea who lie 6th in the table.