9:58pm Tuesday 20th May 2014
Sarisbury Athletic v Andover.
Andover finally got their season underway when they faced arguably their toughest test of the whole season, away at table-toppers Sarisbury Athletic.
Unfortunately they did not return with a victory but came away with plenty of positives.
Andover knew they had their work cut out as the home side have finished in the top two for the previous two seasons and narrowly missed out on promotion by a point last season.
Skipper Mike Adams won the toss on a baking hot day and had no hesitation in electing to bat first on what looked like a good track.
His faith was rewarded when opening duo Glyn Treagus and Ali Hooper raced to 70 after the first 15 overs before the wheels came off in a manic five over spell which saw Treagus chip to mid on, overseas player Byron Haycock edge to point and Hooper tear his hamstring taking a quick single.
With Hooper poised on 44 and blazing it to all parts, it was set for a big total. However, the injury-prone opener overstretched himself and was carried off for treatment.
When Max Souter was bowled by Sarisbury's Zimbabwean spinner, it soon became apparent it was a spinners' pitch. Dave Taylor did his best to steady the shop with a well paced 26 but drove a ball that stopped in the pitch to mid on, off the ever-present Dan Goldstraw.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as Andover struggled against the spin before Luke Graham blitzed a six and a four but was then caught and bowled which saw the return of a strapped up Hooper, with a runner, to join the solid looking Adams in a crucial ninth wicket partnership.
The pair batted sensibly putting on 45 valuable runs, taking singles and punishing the bad balls. Hooper ended his courageous knock on 67 when he was caught going for a big hit in the last over and then Adams soon followed, leaving Andover on 187 all out.
It was a defendable total but with Sarisbury's batting power it was always going to be tough.
Rawlins and Norris got the home side off go a flyer with 75 off the first 17 overs despite great efforts from opening bowlers Taylor and Adams. Predictably, it was the introduction of spin that saw the wickets begin to fall.
Leg spin ace Danny Foy bowled Rawlins with a beautiful delivery and Norris chipped to Souter at cover off spinner Treagus. Andover smelled the smallest whiff of victory but the experienced duo, David Banks and Pete Hammond, batted sensibly to edge the home side to victory.
A flurry of late wickets, one more for Foy and Treagus each, and one for Haycock, kept the game interesting but Sarisbury got over the line with four overs to spare and five wickets intact.
A game of what ifs for Vision Express sponsored Andover but signs of a good side were there and they hope to make amends this Saturday at home to Hambledon.
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group