August 25th 2018
Sway II 247-7, Pylewell Park 158ao. Sway won by 89 runs
After a agonising defeat the previous weekend, Sway 2nds found themselves in the relegation zone by the narrowest possible of margins going into the final weekend. To make matters worse, relegation for the 2nds would mean that the 3rd XI would be denied their hard-fought promotion - so no pressure on Sway skipper Sam Nailor!
Nerves were jangling all week with all eyes to the heavens as a washout on the final day would have sent Sway down - and heavier than predicted rain the day before would not have helped the mood music.
With the covers protecting a fine pitch and the outfield in great nick, a sunny forecast for Saturday at least took the weather out of the calculations leaving the equation quite simple - Sway needed to score 1 more point than Winton II and/or 3 more points than Mottisfont.
The fixture gods were at least on Sway's side for three reasons. Firstly Winton could do little to help their seconds as their first eleven had a 1st v 2nd shoot out for the CD3 title. Secondly, Winton's opponents were league leaders Hythe & Dibden who needed a good win to take the league title. Finally with Sway first eleven securing promotion the previous week, the Club were able to drop a couple of regular first teamers down to help out. With roving correspondents established at the other games, focus shifted to getting the job done at Jubilee.
The visitors won the toss and ask Sway to bat first. With the match bell ringing in their ears both actually and metaphorically, Pylewell took to the field with a strong side and were right up for the game. Sway opened with Neil Prince and Alex Hall whose unbeaten ton the previous week had seen the 1sts to promotion.
Cricket however can be a cruel game and in just the 2nd over Hall nicked the ball through to the keeper for a duck. Meanwhile Prince had to face Dom Norton, possibly the quickest and best fast-bowler in the division. After seeing out the first Norton over, he also nicked one through to Pylewell skipper Jonny Kennedy and was out for 6. Two wickets down for just 6 runs, things could not have got off to a worse start. With news filtering though that Hythe & Dibden had got off to a terrible start at 37-3, there was a lot of pressure on the new Sway batting pair, Steve How and Jack Walton.
The diminutive pair, settled down to some sensible batting, slowly rebuilding the Sway innings taking the score onto 73 before How (25) was very unlucky to hit the ball into his feet and see it agonising roll on to the stumps. Next in was Dan Stevenson and with Walton continuing his seemingly effortless run accumulation. the score moved on to 115 before Stevenson was run out for 4. With news that Hythe had also recovered somewhat, things were looking a bit better, and then looked a lot brighter as new batsman Tom Burton commenced taking the Pylewell bowling attack apart. With Walton breezing past 50 and Burton hitting a series of big shots including a huge six into the Birchy Hill end tree canopy, the Sway score started to accelerate rapidly.
Pylewell brought Norton back on but this was no deterrent to Burton, however just when he seemed all set for a fifty , he smashed the ball to cover and was very unlucky to be caught brilliantly for 42 by by Matt Doe. Meanwhile Walton brought up and superb maiden ton for Sway and now Sway really looked to push on. By tea Sway has racked up 247-7 and secure maximum batting points.
News filtered through that some late biffing by Hythe later middle order had clocked up 44 runs off the last 5 overs to set a target of 202 -and equally importantly Winton had dropped two bowling points. Advantage Sway.
Sway opened their attack with Matt Bramwell and the very first ball was nicked to a well-hydrated Neil Prince at second slip. The ball being parried by a surprised Prince, the fielders looked on at the ball popped up and agonisingly went to ground next to a dazed and cofused Prince. However, just 4 balls later a fired up Bramwell bowled Harry Vaughan for a duck. With Bramwell and Lloyd Scott (9-0-40-1) bowling some ferocious and tight stuff Pylewell struggled initially and it was no surprise when opener John Royan nicked one through to Alex Hall. Pylewell looked to rebuild with Dom Helliwell and Matt Doe but were given very little to play with and after 10 overs had only managed 25 runs. Bramwell (8-2-32-2) then produced one of the balls of the season - and absolute jaffa to bowl Helliwell meaning Pylewell had to rebuild yet again with new bat Ash Russell.
Just when Sway felt they were really getting on top, Sway suffered a setback when Sam Leaton had to be removed from the bowling attack after two no-balls in his first over. Neil Prince was drafted in to bowl the final 3 balls of the over and he was as surprised as anyone to see Doe nick his very first ball just wide of a diving Dave Marshall at first slip. Marshall himself started his spell well from the Hare & Hounds end but Doe plundered 12 runs in his 3rd over resulting in skipper Sam Nailor re-shuffling his pack as at 94 for 3 off 21 overs and with two set batsmen, the game was quite evenly balanced. Jack Walton was brought onto the Hare end and after a couple of tidy overs from Steve How, Marshall switched ends. With nagging line and length, the pair set about slowly strangling the Pylewell reply and the pressure eventually told when Marshall picked up two quick wickets - Russell cutting to Burton at point then Mark Sterling nicking one to Hall without scoring.
With Doe still there, Pylewell still had a chance but when he was brilliantly caught by a diving Nailor off Walton for 39 Sway sensed victory was within their grasp. With the run rate climbing, Sway looked to try and take the remaining wickets needed (the visitors only having 10 batsmen as Matt Truell unfortunately injured hand in the field). Jonny Kennedy gave Marshall (9-0-32-3) his third wicket when he drove a ball into the safe hands of Bramwell at mid-on. Some late crunching by Norton and Danny Russell frustrated Sway and gave the visitors fait hope but man-of-the-match Walton (4.4-0-8-3) had Norton caught by Nailor then wrapped up a Sway victory and maximum points by bowling Pyewell's last batsman. A really hard fought game with both sides giving it everything - but played in a great spirit and a credit to local cricket.
With news coming through that Winton had lost, the celebrations, or at least the sighs of relief could begin. It had been a difficult season, hampered by both some patch performances and bad luck, but undoubtedly a lot has been learned and the team will be much stronger next year.
Jack Walton - 138 not out and looking for a bat sponsor!