1st XI vs Hampshire Academy
Report - www.vimpsatthecrease.com
Openers Tom Morton and Jack Stearman hit centuries during a brutal, uncompromising assault on the Hampshire Academy’s inexperienced attack to power South Wilts to a nine-wicket win and back to the top of the ECB Southern Premier League.
They hit 130 and 107 not out, respectively, sharing a 233-run stand which carried South Wilts almost to within touching distance of the Academy’s 253 all out, with an hour to spare.
It was sweet revenge for the Bemerton-based Premier Division champions, who had been dumped out of the SPL’s T20 Cup by the county youngsters 48 hours earlier.
The crushing defeat came as a real eye opener to the Academy youngsters who, whilst young and talented, were taught a real day-long cricketing lesson.
Bad news for Premier League bowlers is that Tom Morton, having notched his 26th league century, appears back to his best and reproducing the form which won him the SPL’s batting prize three times from 2010 to 2015.
Particularly powerful against anything short, he simply destroyed any deliveries marginally off-line and on the ‘road’ of a Nursery ground strip Ageas Bowl groundsman Tom Cowley prepared there was no margin for error.
Morton plundered three sixes and 16 fours, with left-hander Stearman (left above) the perfect foil, steadily accumulating his second SPL century (his previous one also came against the Academy) as the Young Hawks attack wilted.
Morton didn’t get off to the best of starts this season, but now he’s firing on all cylinders.
“There was a good reason for that. Our second son was just born and I was understandably totally focused on that.
“I can’t say I’m doing anything different, but now everything has clicked,” he explained
Morton reckons that being back behind the stumps, as a stand-in while Ben Draper recovers from a finger injury, is also helping his batting.
He said: "It does help as the ball is coming at you all the time and it gets your eyes focussed. I've kept wicket throughout my career and I'm happier doing that than not, but hopefully it's a short- term thing and Ben recovers soon."
Morton praised the development of Stearman, his left-hand opening partner, who has made the number two position at the top of the South Wilts order his own.
"Jack's having a good season. He's an unflappable character, very organised in his methods and he's on a bit of a roll now and cashing in nicely."
The lively Dom Kelly got past Stearman's outside edge several times early on, but once they adjusted to the pace of the pitch, he and Morton made hay.
There was minimal movement to aid the bowlers and, as the score mounted, it really did become a ‘men against boys’ scenario.
The academy appealed loudly and excessively while Morton and Stearman punished anything remotely off-line, the pair swatting four sixes and 29 fours during their double-century partnership, 82 of Morton's runs breached the boundary rope.
Their 233-run stand seriously threatened the South Wilts (and old Southern League) opening club record of 244 set by Ted Cosway and Brian White back in 1984 when Morton picked out Archie Fairfax-Ross at cover to give Oli Cordery the Academy's only wicket.
Minutes before his dismissal Morton had scored his 400th SPL run in six knocks. The previous week he made 110 against Bashley (Rydal), literally hours after participating in a triathlon on Boscombe beach.
Stearman reached his century soon after while Jack Mynott completed the formalities inside the 53rd over.
The Hampshire Academy topped the log going into the match, primarily on the back of four straight 50-over 'white ball' wins.
They really ought to have posted a 300-plus score against South Wilts, but time and time again they frittered their wickets away.
Charlie Mumford (25) and Tom Cheater provided a 53-run start which the Totton & Eling raised batter enhanced, but at 119-2 and after scoring a fine 72 (one six and 11 fours), Cheater mishit a juggling catch to mid-off and give Tom Grant (2-54) his second wicket. A century it seemed was his for the taking.
Arguably the best batting period for the Academy came when Alton's Jude Wright and Joe Eckland were together. They progressed the score to 165, with both batsmen looking set.
But a chaotic run out culminated in a less than amused Eckland (13) being run out by a direct hit from Stearman and the Academy innings losing direction, with some reckless batting largely to blame.
Bowling around the wicket, Jack Mynott wheeled away productively, taking 4-37 as the Academy lost six wickets for 49 runs, among them Wright who went leg before for 70, trying over ambitiously to reverse sweep the Dauntsey's head of sport.
They were eventually bowled out for 253, six of their 64-over allocation remaining unused. They ought to have done better but, having said that, the form Morton was in, a total of 350 might not have been enough....
2nd XI vs Sway 1st XI
3rd XI - No Game
4th XI vs Godshill 1st XI