Hoping to win the toss, stand in captain Jamie Harvey was downhearted after calling incorrectly and being asked to bat first on what was clearly going to be a difficult surface. With there being little visible difference between the outfield and the pitch, it was going to take a lot of patience, determination and luck to grind out a match winning score.
The only option for any straight ball was to block it, as it could either fly into your ribs or shoot along the ground. Openers Jamie Harvey and Matt Shellum were watchful early on and grateful for the 2 or 3 wides which were bowled every over, which took any pressure off trying to score. Orange was making good use of the juicy pitch, but Crouch at the other end was less probing, giving away 10 wides in his opening 4 overs.
After eight hard fought overs, Shellum was finally given out LBW for 4, bringing Sam Parker to the crease. We all know he is a master of destroying bad bowling, but the question was could he destroy it on a bad pitch? The answer was clearly yes, and in-between the unplayable deliveries, he hit plenty of boundaries in a vital 56 run partnership with Harvey. Having been told to see the last over before drinks out though, Parker succumbed to a good yorker from Clarke and was bowled for 26. Harvey made it through to drinks unbeaten on 29, playing an unusual but necessary watchful innings, waiting for the inevitable one bad ball an over. After drinks though, he found runs harder to come by, and was looking forward to the third change bowling and the opportunity of upping the run rate. However, the young Hesselgrave took a wicket with his first ball as Harvey drove in the air and was well caught at cover for 32 in the 27th over.
Dave Bates and Rich Pearce put on 18 runs before umpire Dunning made the mistake of giving his lift home out LBW for 12. This triggered a collapse as Winterbourne capitulated from 106-3 to 112-7. From playing so sensibly for so long, in the space of 12 minutes a series of rash shots threatened a match winning score. Firstly Dan Marsh was LBW for 1, missing a straight ball which kept low, bringING Mike Turner to the crease. Turner, diminutive in stature, tried to heave another straight ball through the leg side and has one hand on the duck trophy having been given out LBW for naught. Joe Cunningham was then bowled by Hesselgrave for two to give Andover's sixth bowler a remarkable four wickets in four overs. Andy Dunning was lucky not to follow soon after but then stuck around for a few overs until he was caught for 7.
All this time, Dave Bates was still at the crease, battling it out but unable to find any sort of timing, scoring just 6 runs after an hour at the crease. After doubling his tally in the next over, he suddenly seemed to find the middle just when it was needed, along with his new partner Jack Brown. Brown showed early on that he was clearly batting too low, and looked good as he made 17 vital runs in quick time. The pair hit 28 off the final two overs to take Winterbourne to a very respectable 164-8 from their 40 overs. Bates finished unbeaten on 28, finally hitting his first boundary off the last ball of the innings. The total was probably the equivalent of chasing 300 at Winterbourne, so the visitors went into tea in confident mood, having for the most part playing very sensibly on an extremely difficult batting surface.
The portly figure of Chris Breeze opened the bowling along with Rich Pearce, and it became immediately clear just how well Winterbourne had batted. Strangely, the Andover players decided that wild swipes would be the best way of winning the game as Breeze and Pearce ripped through the top order. Pearce took a wicket in his first, second, fourth and fifth over, but after a few balls without a wicket, Sandeep nudged one to Dave Bates at mid wicket. Bates, worried that a wicket hadn't fallen for 3 balls decided the best way to keep the momentum going was to hurl the ball as hard as he could into the batsman's shoulder. His plan worked to perfection as the injured Sandeep was cleaned up 2 balls later, giving Pearce his first ever 5 wicket haul for Winterbourne.
By this stage Breeze had taken 3 wickets at the other end, and even more astonishing was that Harvey had 3 catches to his name (all through strategically brilliant field placings at silly mid on). Strangely the young number 7 batsman decided to give some advice to the new number 10 during the change of overs. Breeze, the man who had taken 3 for 11 at this stage, was apparently, "not exactly rubbish, but sporadic!". Needless to say a fired up Breeze finished his 8 over spell with another 2 maidens and Pearce finished with a brilliant 5-12.
At 31-8, Jack Brown came into the attack and within 5 balls had ripped through the tail enders, petrified of his pace on such a surface. He bowled Morton for 8, the highest score of Andover's innings, and then Hesselgrave chipped a catch to silly mid on as Andover were all out for 32.
It was a comprehensive performance by Winterbourne, proving how important experience over youth is on such a surface. Next week will be a very different story however, as we taken on the unbeaten league leaders Wellow at the Home of Cricket.