Back to the Drawing Board……
Looking to make it four on the bounce and continue their progression towards the top of Hampshire Division Four West, the Shrewton 2nd XI converged on the recently refurbished Castle Road Harvester for a pre match breakfast. Tucking into banana pancakes, eggs Benedict and sipping on Earl grey tea, the mood was buoyant and confidence running high. Last season the Shrews bowled Bournemouth 3rds out for 97, and knocked them off in nine overs, so there were high expectations for a repeat performance. But of the team that pulled off that win last year, only three players remained; gloveman Withers, the hard hitting Battisson and the ever reliable White.
With bellies full, it was all aboard the Hatch express love bus, bound for Bournemouth. On arrival, Newbury unfortunately lost the toss, which with hindsight was probably fundamental to the outcome of the game. Bournemouth put the Shrews into bat, choosing to bowl and make use of the conditions and their athletic pace line up. Opening with Withers and Battisson, all was going well, with both batters playing themselves in. The score was ticking along nicely at 37 from seven overs before Withers nicked off to Rowe for 13. Unfortunately this was to be the beginning of the end for the Shrews batting. Battisson was gone in the next over for 17, again caught behind. With the score on 43, wickets continued to tumble, the majority of the damage being inflicted by Keogh (4/16), playing in his first match in years. Newbury (24) and Bentley (20*) provided the only resistance, before the Shrews were bowled out for a very below par 106 from 35 overs.
Although teas weren’t provided, the Bournemouth captain kindly brought around a tray of cakes which were quickly wolfed down by the lads. Banter was in short supply as the enormity of the task ahead of them sank in.
With such a small total to defend, early wickets were absolutely key, but these would prove hard to come by. The first innings had seen the ball hooping and nipping off the seam with every delivery, but the wind had dropped and with the cloud cover gone, movement had all but vanished.
Opening with the spin of Castle and movement of Bentley, both batters played themselves in, blocking the good balls and hitting the bad ones. Without scoreboard pressure, they could take their time. After seven overs Vallis and Hatch took over, but neither could unlock the opening partnership. Bate junior having the only success, bowling Jones for 20. Battisson and White then tried their luck without success, before Valluri (47*) hit the winning runs in the 25th over. The only things of note in what was a dire performance all round, were White dropping a difficult chance at wide mid off and Cruse showing his honesty in the slips when an edge bounced before he caught it. Although it was a day to forget, credit should go to the Bournemouth bowling attack, who delivered plenty of pace and movement throughout.
With only two points in the bag, The Shrews drop from 2nd to 8th place with an average of 17.25. Next week sees the lads at home to local side Amesbury. A hugely improved performance is a must if they are to have any chance of challenging for promotion come September. In the meantime, it’s back to the drawing board for Newbury as he seeks to shore up a fragile middle order.
Shrewton II – Newbury (c), Castle, Withers (wk), Bentley, Hatch, Battisson, Vallis, White, Parish, Bate (Junior) and Cruse.