Alton returned to the top level of recreational cricket with a hard-fought win against Havant in the Southern Premier League.
It was a good all-round performance from the Brewers, who featured four new boys, as they got over the line by two wickets to start their season in very positive fashion.
Alton won the toss and chose to bowl after the recent rainy weather, but the pitch looked even paced if understandably more bowler friendly.
A patient start from Havant’s two left-handed openers saw them progress to 30 without loss before overseas bowler Bash Walters – returning for his third stint – tempted Ben Walker to feather a catch through to Mark Heffernan.
Debutant Tom Andrews removed Richard Hindley in similar fashion before Scott Myers took a smart slip catch to remove Harry Gadd off the same bowler.
Fellow debutant Tom Varney took the wicket of Chris Stone without scoring to leave Havant struggling on 58 for four. George Metzger looked assured for the hosts and moved Havant towards three figures, but he pulled a short ball to debutant Sam Ruffell to get Alton back on top.
Sonny Reynolds arrived at the crease and struck the ball well, but Walters was recalled into the attack and removed him for a breezy 21.
Tom South (two for 13) was introduced into the attack with his left-arm spin and bowled beautifully to pick up two quick wickets and fellow spinner and final debutant Dan Sumner (two for ten) took two in a very controlled spell as Havant subsided to 148 all out.
Alton responded positively with South and Dan Harris taking the attack to the Havant seamers, approaching a 50 stand to give the Brewers a solid base to work from. Both hit the ball cleanly, but the ball was still moving about off the pitch and Harris (15) was the first to go as a delivery from Richard Jerry nipped back.
Alton then lost another four wickets for 22 runs, leaving them 73 for five as seamers Reynolds and Kai Zeimkendorf (three for 26) put pressure on Alton’s batters.
Howard Gadsby and Mark Heffernan advanced Alton past the 100 mark by being patient against the seamers – despite a few play and misses – and working runs when available against the spinners. They brought the winning line into closer view, before Zeimkendorf dismissed Gadsby (22) with a leading edge to mid-off.
Andrews (six) provided some support to Heffernan as they edged closer with a partnership of 25, before he was removed by Freddie Gadd, and when Sumner was dismissed without scoring it left Alton needing 11 with two wickets left. Walters (four not out) used his experience and helped Heffernan – with a very calm and assured 37 not out – to see Alton over the line.
Alton will travel to Burridge today (Saturday).
Alton’s second team were meant to host Ryde, but the match was cancelled as the weather made it impossible to prepare a suitable pitch. They are at home to Odiham & Greywell today (Saturday).