As much as we like to keep things topical here at The View, I’m sad to report that last weekend’s visit to Basingstoke & North Hants 3s did not contain any all-action, all-round, do-or-die, last-man-standing, heroics. Instead, Pompey 2s’ 20-run win was ground out in the manner that an Australian victory at Headingley would’ve played out in an alternate reality.
Nicky Wyatt returned to leadership duties after last week’s back knack, and called correctly to win the flip (twice, apparently), electing to bat first under blue skies and a baking hot sun.
In what is becoming customary, openers Wyatt and Jamie Mitchell got the visitors away to an excellent start, putting up 63 in 10-and-a-bit overs, before Pompey’s skipper played an awkward-looking non-shot/non-leave, to be bowled for 28.
The (metaphorical) pickets continued to be peppered when Matt Shaw joined Mitchell, forcing the opposition to hold many lengthy field-placing discussions in between deliveries, providing the awaiting batsmen some empathy towards any Rafa Nadal opponent. Pompey’s pasty pair moved the score onto 120, when Shaw attempted to nudge one to the leg side, but closed the bat face too early, and chipped up a straightforward return catch from the leading edge, to depart for 27.
With the foundations laid for a big score, Pompey then failed to build on it, losing the wickets of Dom Wood (kicking a straight full-bunger), Mitchell (wild hack across the line, for 65), James Holder (apologies, your correspondent was still in the sheds during his dismissal), Henry Woolfe (who, after surviving a strange caught behind incident, ran himself out), and Ishy Ahmad (another run out), leaving the visitors holding on to bat out the 45 overs, at 144 for 7.
Paul Hungerford, at nearly the end of his second season at the club, started to make the ‘Portchester Brian Lara’ tag less mirth worthy, striking the ball as cleanly as the Wyatt wagon isn’t, as he ushered the tail towards a respectable total. As the “around 200” talk started up at the boundary edge, Hungerford smeared one back toward the bowler, who then stuck up a mitt whilst ducking for cover, only to find the ball slap and stick straight into his hopeful hand, dismissing the serially unfortunate Hungerford for 27.
A crucial last wicket stand of 4 between seasoned stalwarts, Rick Marston and Martin Balland-Collins, added one more batting bonus point (and saved an inanimate object from being punted by a potentially irate Shaw), nudging Pompey’s score up to 177, before Marston – having presumably watched the Jos Buttler Masterclass earlier that morning – decided to skip down the pitch to try and deposit one onto Basingstoke’s 1st team ground. Instead, stumps were splattered, to bring the innings to an abrupt halt.
Although the surface wasn’t easy for batting on, given the start Pompey had made, 177 all out was deemed a little below par, meaning a quality bowling and fielding performance was the order from the Napoleon-esque Wyatt.
And aside from a couple of early indifferent overs (possibly due to Lee Hungerford’s less-than-hetero Top Gun related chat prior to taking the field), Pompey’s opening bowlers duly delivered. Firstly, Rick Marston tied the home side’s young opener in knots, before cleaning him up in an exquisite four-ball sequence. Next, Henry Woolfe removed the hosts’ other opener, thanks to a sharp catch from the one-legged Dom Wood, then took care of Basingstoke’s big dog, enticing him to chip an attempted booming drive to Mitchell at mid-off. Marston then recovered (as the aforementioned big dog had, many moons ago, hit a delivery from him further than a standard Rory McIlroy drive, and remains visibly scarred by the experience) to lure another local youngster out of his crease, to be stumped by the evergreen Balland-Collins. By the time Martson had chalked off his allocation of overs, his dot-tastic analysis read 9 overs, 3 maidens, 2 wickets for 8 runs, as the hosts were in a hole at 42 for 4 – Woolfe had picked up 2 for 23 from his 6-over burst.
Form horse, Ishy Ahmad, bowled tidily (0 for 26 from 7), without reward, but a couple of catches at mid off helped to make up for any lack of wickets this week – one of which was taken from the bowling of Paul Hungerford, who worked his way through the home side’s lower middle-order, his 3 for 40 included a ‘Jack Leach to Marcus Harris’ beauty, flighting a delivery outside the left-hander’s off stump, tempting him out for a big cover drive, only for the ball to spin viciously ‘through the gate’ and onto the stumps.
Ishy’s other catch was pouched off James Holder’s bowling, who in tandem with Lee Hungerford, were simply excellent in the death overs, drying up the boundary opportunities, and chipping away with the wickets of the home side’s stubborn tail – Hungerford taking 1 for 15, and Holder 2 for 33 – to bowl Basingstoke out for 157.
This final weekend of the season finds our Unicorns head home, to host table-topping Compton & Chandlers Ford.