The white ball was replaced by the red as Alton returned to all-day cricket on Saturday with a trip to Bournemouth.

After Covid and a season in Division One, it had been a while since Alton had played the longer format. Skipper Scott Myers lost the toss and the hosts elected to bat.

Bournemouth started watchfully as Tasmanian overseas player Thomas Willoughby and Luke Webb built a solid platform.

The Alton bowlers toiled, keeping the scoring rate in check, but chances were few and far between. The opening stand was worth 114 before Willoughby edged Bash Walters behind for 42. Alton’s second wicket came immediately as James Van Gool edged to Michael Heffernan at gully. With lunch approaching Alton pushed for a third but Webb and Lewis Freak stood firm as the hosts went into the break well placed at 135 for two.

Post-lunch Thomas Varney returned to the attack, but Webb and Freak continued to make steady progress. Varney was bowling well and eventually got his reward. A short ball from Varney hurried Freak as he could only edge behind to Mark Heffernan. Skipper Chris Park joined Webb and the pair made steady progress.

Webb was prolific on the cut shot all afternoon and moved to three figures off 151 balls.

Park looked to be inventive and Webb tried to up the rate, but on a pitch that looked relatively easy to stay in on, free scoring proved more difficult.

Walters dismissed Webb for 124 and keeper Ben Rogers soon followed for a duck.

Park holed out to Myers for 45 as Walters (five for 88) completed his five-wicket haul.

Bournemouth used up all 64 overs available as their innings closed on 281 for six.

The quick turnaround between innings meant the Alton opening pair of Tom South and Dan Harris had to make sure they were fully switched on.

They added 64 before Harris was trapped leg before wicket by Willoughby for 36. Howard Gadsby joined South, but scoring became more difficult for the Brewers. South tried to impose himself and took on Jake Hurley’s first ball, only to skew the off-spinner to backward point as he fell for 31.

Dan Conway removed Gadsby for six, and when he bowled Myers for one Alton were reeling at 83 for four.

Michael Heffernan joined young Sam Ruffell with the visitors in desperate need of a partnership. The pair moved Alton past three figures, but with Ruffell looking to take the attack to Bournemouth he could only find mid-on as he was caught for eight.

Alton were 101 for five with 23 overs to go. Mark Heffernan joined his brother as the pair looked to just bat time.

The Bournemouth bowlers continued to bowl a good line and length, making scoring difficult. The winning draw target was not realistic at this point, so it was a case of ensuring Alton took something out of the game. The home side appeared to be waiting for Alton to make mistakes, but the overs ticked down with the Brewers remaining steadfast.

Overs remaining moved into single figures before Michael Heffernan was given out leg before wicket for 24 – Willoughby picking up his second.

Tom Andrews looked comfortable as he and Mark Heffernan saw Alton to the close.

Alton finished on 156 for six and took home three bonus points for the losing draw.

Alton will look to take the positives into Saturday as they entertain the champions and league leaders St Cross at the Jubilee Playing Fields (11am).