Mixed fortunes for first league games

Steeple Langford 1st XI started their Hampshire League County Division 3 North campaign by travelling to the picturesque Hartley Wintney 2nd XI ground with a depleted team.  On winning the toss, skipper  Andy Bennett put the home side into bat and they progressed to 35 before O’Kelly tried one cut shot too many off Chris Mundy and guided the ball into gully for Bennett to take a comfortable catch. Soon after, Gary Smith then cleaned bowled the number 3 bat and Mundy knocked over the number 4’s stumps to leave Hartley Wintney on 51 for 3. Both opening bowlers went straight through their allotted 10 overs, Mundy finishing with 2 for 40 and Smith, who regularly beat the bat with his accurate swing bowling, was unlucky to only take 1 wicket for the 31 runs conceded. The other opening bat, Porter, meanwhile was grafting away slowly and he was joined by the dangerous Baldwin who for the last 2 seasons was captain of Hartley Wintney’s 1st XI and looked to attack straight from the off. He had soon reached 30 before he pulled a shortish ball from the spin bowling of Adam McNeilly to mid wicket where Adi Hughes took an excellent low catch to end his knock. Porter reached his 50 in the 35th over but was then immediately caught in the deep by Tom Dennis, again off McNeilly’s bowling. The home side’s skipper, Westfoot, rode his luck to start with while at the other end McNeilly picked up his 3rd wicket and Paddy Goodman a couple.  Boston hit a quick 23 and Westfoot ended unbeaten on 56 as Hartley Wintney totalled 223 for 8 after their 45 overs. McNeilly picked up an excellent 3 for 40 from his 10 overs and Goodman 2 for 53 with young Nathan Hill, making his 1st team debut, bowling well at the death and was very unfortunate not to pick up at least 1 wicket, mainly down to the rare occurrance of him and Martin Grearson not opening their mouths when the ball was skied between them, which left Grearson floundering on the ground after attempting to take the catch. However, thanks to good bowling and an excellent fielding display, Steeple Langford were happy with the score set for them to chase with a hard wicket and large outfield.  In reply, openers Mundy and McNeilly started cautiously but looked comfortable against the opening attack before McNeilly (15) played a half-shot and chipped a half volley to mid on with the score on 24. This bought Adi Hughes, who was also making his 1st team debut, to the crease and him and Mundy took the score to 43 before Mundy tickled one to the keeper after scoring 18.  Grearson came in at number 4 and he made his intentions clear from the start by taking the attack to the bowlers and him and Hughes took the score to 83 before Hughes was bowled by the sharp and accurate Baldwin for a patient 11. The visitors then lost a couple of quick wickets including Grearson who holed out in the deep for an excellent 37 of which 30 were scored in boundaries.  By now the run rate had increased to 10 per over and the lack of depth in the batting showed as only Smith offered any resistence with a quickfire 18 and the Steeple Langford innings closed on 129, 94 runs short. Pick of the home team bowlers were Clode 4 for 32 and Harrington 4 for 35. Although disappointed with the result, the match was enjoyable and played in the right spirit and Steeple Langford can take many positives from the day.

Match Report by Andy Bennett

The second's were more successful in their fixture against a strong Nomansland side. Langford batted first on a glorious day, posting 183-8 from their 42 overs, with Ben Hatt (after his notorious no show during the pre season), top scoring with 39 not out alongside E Xtras with 42, Andy Foyle and Dan Bennett also made useful knocks of 28 and 27 respectively.

Nomansland came into bat on what their skipper describe as a decent wicket and lovely location to play cricket but Nomansland struggled from some great bowling by youngsters Liam Harvey 1-15 and Joe McNeilly 2-26, who did a tremendous job for Rob Emm, not fazed by some big hitters in the Nomansland team. Darren Harvey was the pick of the bowling though with a tight spell and regular wickets causing Nomansland to slump to 134 all out, Harvey ending with 4-24 and with Dave Haugh bowling a great spell of leg spin picking up 2-22 this was an excellent victory for Rob Emm's team.