Alton seal immediate return to Southern League Premier Division

Saturday 10th September 2022 6:00 am
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Alton Cricket Club celebrate promotion

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Alton completed a seven-game winning streak and with it sealed the SPCL division one title and an immediate return to the premier league.

At the start of play Alton were sitting just two points clear at the top of the division one table.

To be sure of the title Alton required not only victory but with enough bonus points to ensure Sarisbury could not catch them.

They played their part by beating Basingstoke by 44 runs – which was enough to win the title on its own, even though Sarisbury were slipping to a surprise defeat at Liphook.

Alton discussions had been on going about the best way to approach the game – and especially the toss. With rain around in the morning, the general consensus was to bowl first – but this decision was taken out their hands when Basingstoke skipper Joe Oates won the toss and elected to bowl.

Pressure was on Alton to post a total and ideally pass the 225 figure that would give them maximum batting points. Gonella and Harris soon eased any nerves as they added 52 in the first ten power-play overs, Harris completing his sixth half-century of the season.

The pair fell just short of their third century stand of the season, as Gonella was dismissed for 31 with the score on 97.

Gonella had passed 500 runs for the season and had given the Brewers the perfect start.

Wheeler joined Harris as Alton moved into three figures in the 20th over. They were in control at 133 for one but two quick wickets meant they needed to steady the ship.

Wheeler was caught behind for 12 before Harris departed for a powerful 83 off just 78 balls, including 14 fours, ending the season with 668 runs.

Heffernan joined Myers and the pair added 58 before Alton’s leading run scorer Myers could only slog sweep the economical Thankachan straight up as he was removed for 17.

Myers ended with an impressive 672 runs for the season at an average of 56.

Alton moved past 200 in the 41st over and Heffernan moved to his fifth half-century of the season off 51 balls as he and Freddie Egleston moved Alton past the 225 mark and with it maximum batting points.

Once achieved the pair looked to score as many as they could but both fell to Oates in the same over, who finished with three for 49.

Alton were reduced to 236 for seven when South was trapped LBW off the bowling of Brown for six and Mark Heffernan and Howard Gadsby moved Alton past 250.

A last-ball run-out saw Gadsby depart for five as Alton closed on 255 for eight.

Overseas ace Bash Walters, in his last game before returning home to South Africa, took the new ball.

Skipper Myers at the other end caused the early damage as Basingstoke made the worst possible start, slipping to three for two.

Dean Nurse and Coombs added 44 in good time but when Coombs edged Walters behind for 19, Basingstoke were three down for just 47, Walters claiming his 39th wicket of the season and with it the leading wicket-taker accolade.

The run rate was where it needed to be as Basingstoke progressed to 53 runs off the first ten power-play overs.

Skipper Myers introduced spin and this did the trick as Deadman was bowled by South for 34. The score moved past 100 inside the 19th over but when Oates was caught at deep square by Michael Heffernan off the bowling of Egleston for just one, Basingstoke had slipped to 103 for five.

Dean Nurse moved past 50 off 62 balls, but when he fell to the bowling of Egleston, Alton were in control.

A wonderful delivery and piece of glove work from Mark Heffernan saw Nurse lose his balance as he was stumped for 59.

Egleston then clean bowled Donaldson for five as he picked up three for 31 off his ten overs.

Zack Gadsby removed Brown for one as Alton closed in on victory and although some late resistance meant the Brewers were left a little frustrated, news of Sarisbury’s defeat meant they would be crowned champions.

Gadsby picked up another wicket, removing Finken for 13, and Mathew Thankachan remained steadfast – scoring 33 not out off 90 balls – as he and Shantanu Shahane batted resolutely as Basingstoke closed on 211 for nine as celebrations could finally begin.

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