Last-ball drama as leaders Rowledge are denied by Sparsholt

Thursday 7th July 2022 6:00 am

Zach Le Roux hits out for 75 in Rowledge’s tied match

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Rowledge tied with Sparsholt after a thrilling Southern Premier League Division 1 encounter on Saturday, a match that ebbed and flowed and featured a dramatic last-ball finish.

Rowledge elected to bat and immediately faced a tough challenge, with Sparsholt mixing up their bowlers intelligently and not letting the batsmen have their way.

Ricky Yates looked to punish any width on offer, but against some accurate bowling, none of the top four was able to assert himself on the game and Rowledge slipped to 56 for four in the 18th over.

Facing a tough challenge to dig Rowledge out of this situation, Zac Le Roux and Olly Ryman came together and showed great maturity.

They weathered the storm well, rotating the strike and running between the wickets excellently to wrestle back the momentum for Rowledge.

The pair played risk-free cricket but built their partnership at a decent rate. They were ruthless on any loose bowling, but consistently took singles in the ring through some intelligent batting, and sought to run the Sparsholt fielders ragged.

The pair batted through the bulk of the innings and, looking to accelerate towards the back end, Le Roux fell in unfortunate fashion, miscuing a full toss from Josh Williams and holing out in the deep.

However, he had made an exceptional 75 and his partnership with Ryman, who finished unbeaten on 71, totalled just shy of 150 and was very impressive, demonstrating great intelligence and skill.

Ryan Littlewood joined Ryman for the death overs, and he contributed a quickfire 27 to propel Rowledge up to 232 for five, a total they would have certainly deemed to be defendable.

Rowledge bowled with great accuracy in the early stages, with Richard Forbes and Ollie Baker restricting the run rate with the new ball, well supported by an energetic fielding unit.

When Yates removed Ollie Williams in the 18th over, Sparsholt fell to 45 for two and Rowledge looked to have a commanding hold on the game.

However, the experienced David Banks joined young opener Will Berill and steadily the momentum started to shift.

The pair were patient at first, but they quietened the Rowledge fielders by rotating the strike well and nullifying the threat the bowling side had initially posed.

Banks was the danger man for Sparsholt and he began to show why by unleashing a series of powerful sweep shots that peppered the mid-wicket boundary.

The game looked to be falling away from Rowledge as Banks and Berrill were cruising comfortably through the middle overs, and they needed some brilliance to bring them back into the game.

They seemed to get just that when Banks fell for 61 to an impressive catch by Yates, and then Littlewood ran out Dave Coyle with an exceptional piece of fielding at backward point.

However, Berill, who had continued to accumulate runs steadily without taking any risks, found an able partner in captain Jeremy Frith.

Frith innovated well and frustrated Rowledge with his conventional and reverse paddle sweeps.

He scored quickly, but when he was removed by Ash-Lee Harvey, it triggered a flurry of two more wickets in quick succession.

As has happened many times this season, it looked as if Rowledge had shown great character to come back from a desperate position.

Eventually, 12 runs were needed off the final over with Sparsholt eight wickets down – and after Lewis Dunford was run out from the first ball, the game looked to have swung the way of Rowledge.

However, Josh Williams struck a crucial boundary and then, with four runs needed off the last ball to tie the game, Sparsholt number 11 Ian Berrill heaved the delivery from Harvey through the leg side.

It beat mid-wicket and eventually trickled over the boundary as an extraordinary game had ended in unlikely fashion, with a tie.

At the midway point of the season, Rowledge possess a slender lead over second-placed Calmore Sports, having lost only one of their first nine games. They host local rivals Liphook this Saturday.

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