August 19th 2017

1sts hit top gear to keep slim promotion hopes alive

Bedhampton 170-9, Sway 195-9

Hants County Div 2

uperb knocks from run machine Tim Noble and Neil Prince, backed up by an excellent all-round bowling display saw Sway overcome a decent Bedhampton side.

Sixth-placed Sway went into the game with an outside chance of promotion and needing to win, while the second-placed hosts were also desperate for the points, having lost their past two games. Prior to that they had been top of pile and unbeaten.

Having lost the toss and been asked to bat, Sway were up against it and soon reduced to 30-3 against a pacey opening attack, despite some nice shots from Tom Thorp and skipper Alex Hall. Noble, who has more than 600 runs already this summer, was joined by Prince and the pair were composed throughout, manoeuvring the field with singles and picking off the bad balls. Of the two Noble was slightly more cultured, although he did uncharacteristically crush one delivery for a massive six into a neighbour’s garden. He was first to his fifty, eventually making 69. Prince meanwhile upped the tempo the longer he was at the crease, making as terrific 66.

Sway were ideally placed at 130-3 off 30 overs, but could not quite up the rate enough in the last third of the innings to reach 225 and secure maximum bonus points. Several batsman perished in the search for runs but Jack Baughan hit a couple of lusty blows to get Sway to a competitive score.

After tea Sway got off to a wonderful start with the new ball, with a pumped up David Steadman getting a plumb lbw and then bowling the number three to leave Bedhampton 0-2 in the first over. The situation clearly surprised Bedhampton’s dangerous number four Martin Hovey, who strode to the wicket and took his guard while still padding up. A shell-shocked Bedhampton looked to consolidate, but the accurate Jon Waller (1-25), soon got in on the act when Thorp gratefully accepted a slip catch, and when Steadman bowled another man Sway were well in the ascendancy and the hosts were 31-4 off 16 overs.

It did not get any easier for the hosts with Sway’s strength in depth evident as the miserly Ben Powis entered the fray alongside the fiery Jon Grasham. Powis stifled Bedhampton to the point where they needed six an over, and the pressure told when he got the prize wicket of Hovey, who was well caught by Waller in the deep. From then on Powis showed his class, taking 3-38, while a disciplined Grasham bowled well without luck. The promising Lloyd Scott (1-17) bowled with pace and aggression, showing Sway have a very handy bowling line-up, and claimed a wicket when Hall clutched a chance behind.

By now the game was well gone with Bedhampton needing 68 off the last four overs. However, they added some respectability when the final man biffed 31 off two overs to make the scores closer, although the hosts were never really in the hunt.

Neil Prince - a valuable 66