Sat 27th August 2016

The Big Show wins it for the 2nds

Sway II 170ao, Damerham 147-7 - Sway won by 23 runs

Sway went into the final game of the season looking to cement a mid table finish and the team's highest ever league position but faced tough opposition in the form of a Damerham side who had been enjoying a good season.

The first two bits of luck went Sway skipper Dan Stevenson's way - firstly winning the toss and naturally electing to bat in perfect conditions, and secondly the visitors arriving somewhat "weary" from a stag night the previous evening and found themselves broiling out in the hot sweaty conditions.

The previous night's cobwebs were perhaps not quite out of the system as opening bowlers Hacon Edgley and Ross Tapley bowled a couple of dubious balls which were despatched to the boundary including a rare six by Stevenson. Partner Sam Nailor was also amongst the runs and whilst the Damerham bowlers did find their rhythm,  the batsmen were looking relatively untroubled as Sway raced to 23 off the first 5 overs.

The first on many twists in the game's fortunes came when Nailor was caught for 13 off Tapley then just a couple of overs later Stevenson was bowled by Edgley for 19. The next pairing up for Sway was Adam Clark and Chris Hammond; Clark in particular looking in fine form from the start when he crashed his third ball to the deep point boundary. The scoring rate remained high as Sway moved on to 70 off 15 overs and a 200+ score seemed on the cards. Just when he was really getting going, however, a Clark pile driver was superbly caught at mid on for 27 in Edgley's final over. 

Damerham's shuffled their bowling pack and brought on Ben Bealey, and Hammond's bowling nemesis, off spinner Henry Gilbert. Gilbert's introduction in particular had an immediate effect in checking Sway's comfortable progress and the Damerham skipper turned the game right back in the visitors favour picking up two wickets in his first  three overs for just two runs. First Hammond was bowled round his legs for 20 then number 5 Ryan Drayton was caught for a duck. When Will Baughan was caught off Bealey for two, Sway's bright start had subsided to 98-6 off 22 overs.

Sway's hopes now rested on the increasingly confident young shoulders of Vito "the Big Show" Falso in partnership with veteran Dave Marshall. From the off, Falso showed no fear to Gilbert's bowling, clubbing him around the ground for a series of boundaries including a monsterous six over deep mid on. Whilst Gilbert's first three overs had gone for just 2 runs, his next 5 went for 49 runs, such was the full on assault by Italy's answer to Chris Gayle! Gilbert did manage to have Marshall's caught behind for 9 but the 39 run partnership had seen the score up to 137. George Lewis now joined Falso to continue the assault and 161 was on the board by the time Falso was finally bowled for a sparkling 52. Lewis holed out for 17 but by the time number 11 Matt Bramwell was bowled for duck, Sway had clocked up a potentially defendable 170ao.

For the first time in many games, Sway were able to open their attack with their first choice paring of Nailor and Bramwell and it was just like old times with the magnificent sight of Bramwell castleing opener Pardy in his second over.  Sway were however leaking runs, extras in particular - 37 in total compared with Damerham's 7 as Edgley and Bealey settled in to try and guide the visitors to victory as them moved the score on to 39-1 off 10 overs.

Sway did at least managed to check the run rate back somewhat as the first 8 overs from change pairing of Lewis and Marshall went for just 11 runs and the breakthrough finally came when Lewis Marden bowled Bealey for 30 with a corker. Marden also took a catch off Marshall nevertheless the visitors were still in the driving seat at 105-3 off 29 overs, especially with dangerman Gilbert at the crease, clearly intent to driving his side to victory. Skipper Stevenson was given a further headache when bowler Marshall ruptured his bicep tendon mid over and was forced to bowl the next 4 balls himself. Sway's younger bowlers now had to really step up to the plate now and they did a great job really tightening up the bowling with Marden's 7-0-16-1 a highlight. Nevertheless Damerham were probably still favourites but all this changed when Gilbert was well caught in the deep by man-of-the-match Falso for 30 off the returning Nailor (10-1-31-1).

Sway now sniffed victory as the required run rate climbed and Marshall (6.5-3-15-2) retuned to the action to see if he could bowl a few tight overs at reduced pace - at first the tactic worked, picking up a further wicket, when opening Edgley's long vigil was ended when he was caught at mid off by Nailor however just a few ball's later the arm completely gave way. There now followed some Boy's Own moments as Stevenson (3.1-0-9-2), in finishing Marshall's over picked up two wickets in four balls, Bowling Colbourne for 2 then having Holmes caught at Gully for a duck, ironically by Marshall.

That was very much that as far as Damerham's chances were concerned and the last few overs of the season were played in relative calm as the visitors ended a good game of cricket 23 runs short of their required target.

So a record 11th placed finish for the second eleven in a season full of positives for the future especially the performances of the youngsters. With a bevy of star youngsters likely to be moving up from the 3rds next season, competition for places is likely to be high and the 2nds look set to push on in 2017.

A big thanks to in particular to Mr & Mrs Stevenson for their superb teas all season.