Alton ladies visited Hursley Park for a top of the table clash that, in all probability, was likely to decide the fate of the league. Alton were once again without a couple of key players – most especially last week’s centurion Julia who has departed for pastures new – and we wish her all the best! Alton skipper Gadsby won the toss and asked the hosts to bat first. The opening pair of Sarah Attrill (20) and Rebecca Blake (28) played excellently against the seam attack of Gemma L and Martha, putting away any over pitched balls - Blake especially driving well through the extra cover region. The onset of spin saw the end of both openers with Gemma P and Bella picking up a wicket apiece – both caught by Martha. Hannah (41) and Anya (20) carried on where the openers had left off and retained a solid 4 runs an over – difficult with such a large outfield. A change of wk saw Amelia also pick up a couple of wickets, only for Amy (10) and Ellie (20) to continue the run setting - at tea most pundits would have had HP slight favourites with their score of 176/5. Great economy bowling from Martha (7-1-16-0), Gemma P (8-1-17-1) and Gemma C (5-1-18-0).
The talk at tea was not to let the scoreboard pressure get to us - 5 balls in and the first attempted quick single saw the run out of Sarah C! That brought the key partnership of Gemma P and Amelia together with Alton needing a solid base. The girls batted beautifully together taking on the fielders and playing aggressive strokes when needing to. At 137/1 the game had clearly swung to Alton. HP had had their chances - putting a couple of chances down and then missing the stumps when Amelia had called a suicidal run. Alton just needed to keep their heads and surely the game was there for the taking. Credit to the HP captain who kept the pressure on – suspecting a run out as the most likely dismissal and with only 40 runs needed, another risky run saw Amelia run out for 54 by a couple of metres. Mistry then brought herself on and dismissed not only Gemma P (70) c+b but also Heffernan for 0. The middle order could have (and perhaps should have) still seen the game home, but the two big wickets saw a swing in momentum that was difficult to stop. Suddenly the catches that had been being dropped were being taken, the balls that were going through to the boundary were being stopped and even the marginal umpire’s decisions were going the way of the home team. What followed was a foray of wickets – Alton did say that they would leave nothing behind, and they did precisely that – gambling bowling points for the win. Despite some late aggression from Gemma C it was too little too late and, in the end, the Breweresses fell 4 runs short. This was a game where huge amounts of experience will have been gained by many players. Probably the only difference between the teams was the situational experience and canniness that you only get from playing in (and sometimes losing) these close games. Great game – wrong result, but loads of positives and lots learnt! Well done everyone.