Hambledon 2nd XI, with only two wins to their name this season, have defied the odds with a 64-run victory over second-placed Portsmouth.
Hambledon won the toss and elected to bat on a dry and already dusty wicket. Lecky opened the batting with Vickers, but fell early to a caught-and-bowled. Vickers and Boots then started to capitalise on some indifferent bowling, with Vickers putting away several deliveries with too much width, and crashing one six into the sightscreen, before Boots ran past one and was stumped for 17.
Vickers was somewhat unlucky to be given out LBW for 60 soon afterwards to a ball that hit him on the hip-bone, but this brought Phil Rennie to the crease to join Henry Glanfield. The Portsmouth bowlers decided that the best plan of attack was to bowl full tosses and half-trackers to Phil, who accepted them with relish, scoring 4 sixes – including one deposited into the pitch-and-putt – before being caught for 42 off 29 balls, a partnership of 76.
Meanwhile Henry, having split his own bat and having to use his dad’s, was building a responsible innings, notching up his first half-century of the season – but being bowled shortly afterwards for 53. Turns, a welcome addition to the team this week, scored a run-a-ball 32, but was then run out a couple of overs from the end after a mix-up with Ollie Willoughby. Ollie himself was unlucky to be run out on the penultimate ball from a direct hit from the deep. Seb Duggan then managed to hit the last ball for four (via a dropped catch) to bring the Dons’ total to 251 for 7 – a good psychological target against a team who had looked pretty down in the field since well before the drinks break.
After an outstanding tea, which saw Phil tucking heartily into the Victoria sponge, the Dons took the field. The new ball was taken by James Restell and Will Hardman, just back from school and making his 2nd XI debut for Hambledon. Will bowled superbly and removed both openers – one caught at slip by the ever-reliable Turns, the other a steepling caught-and-bowled – with the score still in single figures, something the 2nds have been struggling to do in recent weeks. Will continued to cause problems, beating the bat on many occasions.
It was then time to bring on the spin, and on a pitch that was turning to dust as the ball hit it, it was always going to be difficult for Portsmouth to accelerate the run rate against the combined wiles of Turns and Lecky. Turns took 3 wickets and Lecky 2, between them allowing only 53 runs from 20 overs. The only real resistance came from Portsmouth’s captain Nicky Wyatt, who – although incapacitated and requiring a runner – scored 57 (mostly in fours) before holing out to Lecky and being caught by Henry and long-off. All three of Turns’ wickets were snaffled up in the slips, with Vickers managing to hold onto one which seemed to get lodged in his neck after falling backwards onto the ground...
Portsmouth resisted a little with the 8th wicket partnership, but never looked like getting near the target. Chris Glanfield took a couple of wickets at the end, and could have had the final wicket too off the last ball if Seb, running in from the boundary, had managed to hold on to the catch. But in the end it didn't matter – a welcome victory and 23 points for the Dons, and although still in the same position in the league, they have opened up a useful points gap over the three teams below them.
Next week sees the 2nds at Ridge Meadow, taking on Calmore Sports II – just a few places higher in the table – and will be hoping to build on this week’s excellent performance.