30th May 2015
Hants County Div 3 (South)
Sway 208-6 Parley 207-9. Sway won by 4 wickets
With Dorset giants Parley seemingly keen to reach the hallowed ground of the Southern League via the HCL, Sway knew the opposition was likely to extremely competitive opponents - and they were not disappointed as both sides played out a thrilling game of high tempo cricket featuring top batting & bowling and even hotter fielding as both sides battled for supremacy almost down to the final ball.
After losing the toss, the hosts got a wicket with the very first ball of the game when the Parley skipper Sam Collins was mortified with himself for strangling with his glove a leg-stump delivery from David Steadman through to diving keeper Hall . After that Jon Waller spilled a chance offered by Gunn, who with the dangerous Viney took Parley to 70 without loss. Sway now needed wickets as Parley were looking good for a 250+ total. Skipper Alex Hall turned to spinner Nathan David, cleverly putting him on at the end with the longest boundary beind him. In just his second over, the tactic reaped its reward with the "classically trained" Parley batsmen not being able to resist the big drives. First Hall coaxed a somewhat reluctant Dave Marshall to field a few feet nearer in the covers and the very next ball disco-trousered number three Robbie Gunn fired a high velocity bullet which was taken painfully above his head by Marshall. There was further joy for Sway when dangerous opener Rob Viney, who had already scored 200 league runs this season drove a David delivery into the dependable hands of Steadman on the deep mid-on boundary.
The game then ebbed and flowed through the middle part of the innings - Parley rattled along with all the batsmen playing shots and looking good, but then getting themselves out before scoring big. The exception was Dorset over-50s star Keith Clark who set a superb example to all the youngsters on both sides with a knock of 46 runs off just 48 balls - using the pace of the ball and finding the gaps with seemingly consummate ease. Sway bowled well throughout with Steadman (4-25) the pick of the bunch and David impressing. Marshall went without a wicket but put together a very tidy spell while Attapatu and Waller claimed scalps as Parley closed on a competitive 207. Three times the Parley batsmen holed out to Steadman giving him a hat-trick of quality catches in the deep. Jack Baughan saved numerous runs fielding at point which proved crucial and Niall Gallagher also performed well in the field on his 1st XI debut. Parley finished up on 209-7 - a decent result for Sway given the good start by the visitors.
In response Sway opened with Tim Noble and promoted Waller against the pace of Tom Blackley and Adam Fowler-Watt who were both able to get good bounce from the wicket. Despite the pace and accruacy, and bar the odd play and miss there were few dramas and some nicely struck boundaries as the pair put on 53 before Waller was the first out, stumped for 22. Noble followed soon after in the same fashion for the same score and Attapatu was the third wicket to fall, running himself out a ball after hitting a nice boundary. This brought Hall to the crease, to join Steadman, who had been promoted to number three. The pair needed 117 runs at 7.5 runs an over and it was probably essential that this pair were to make a big dent into this if Sway were to have a chance of victory.
With Steadman opening the bowling in recent years, a lot of people have perhaps forgotten that he was once a genuine all-rounder with the straightest of straight bats. His cast iron technique, combined with his speed between the wickets paid dividends as he hit a superb half century off 53 balls the highlights being two straight sixes. Together with the naturally quick scoring Hall, the pair dragged Sway back into contention with most overs going for on or around the required rate. One big over of hitherto tidy spinner Max Collins resulted in 21 runs and suddenly Sway were looking favourites. To their credit Parley fought back - in the field they were superb, throwing themselves about and with every single player seemingly having bullet throws from the boundary. The pacemen returned to the action and Sway nerves started to jangle in the descending gloom as first Alex Hall was run-out for a fine 48 off 37 balls by yet another Parley torpedo then Steadman had his middle stump knocked out the ground by Blackley. By this point Sway needed 13 to win off three overs with 4 wickets in hand - on paper straightforward, but with Parley's Aussie paceman Henry Cupitt straining every sinew and the light fading fast, the task was far from easy. Luckily Sway had the experienced Adam Clark at the crease partnered by FJ Charton. Clark knew that this was not the time for big shots and being so quick over 22 yards Clark, aided by Charton took Sway to the brink of victory with just 3 runs due from the final over.
Opening bowler Fowler-Watt could not have been more fired up as he powered in for the final six balls - but his first ball was just shy of leg stump - a wide meaning Sway needed just 2 more runs. The next ball was a dot as Charton swung and missed. Third ball, Charton was hit square in his box, shattering it to pieces [are you reading this youngsters!], but despite obvious discomfort, a "leg bye" was scrambled. By this point next man in Marshall was positively in brown trousers territory, raiding the colts equipment cupboard in search of a helmet! He need not have worried, however, as with the very next ball a single was scrambled to relief and cheers from the home players and supporters.
A fantastic game of cricket played by two good sides. With so many quality youngsters Parley are surely destined ultimately for promotion to the SEPL and it is only a matter of how many seasons it takes form them to get there. For Sway it was a top performance all-round and will imbue the team with confidence for the rest of this season's campaign.
David Steadman & Niall Gallagher - playing league cricket together again for the first time since their U15s days!