Andover moved to the top of the division two of Southern Premier Cricket League with a comprehensive victory over early pace-setters Waterlooville.

Waterlooville, who hadn’t lost a game so far this season were top of the table at the start of play, so Andover knew they were in for a tough challenge.

Andover first XI, sponsored by Nordlock, welcomed Harri Williams and Harry Blackburn into the side from the team that beat Bashley.

Andover captain Matt Hooper won his first toss of the season and asked Waterlooville to bat first on a decent looking pitch.

This decision was immediately vindicated with Waterlooville falling to 6-2 with Michael Adams (12-2) picking up the first two wickets. He, and fellow opening bowler, Babu Veettil (14-0), put the batters under lots of pressure bowling accurately and giving nothing away.

Waterlooville weathered the storm but were finding runs hard to come by and Aidan Jansen (13-0) and John Nyumbu (16-3) carried on the opener bowlers’ good work.

It was Nyumbu who was the next man to strike picking up his first wicket for the town side, two expertly caught by Charlie Ayers in the slips.

Hooper (17-2) replaced Nyumbu and it was he who picked up the next wicket brilliantly caught by Brandon Smith down the leg side and Waterlooville were 67-5. This quickly became 74-8 with Ayers (23-3), Hooper and Nyumbu all getting one a piece. Ayers, who bowled brilliantly throughout, picked up the final two wickets to fall and Waterlooville were bowled out for 103.

Whilst this score looked below par, Andover knew they were up against a good side. Unfortunately for Andover they got the worst possible start losing Williams to the very first ball of the innings, being trapped LBW.

This brought Blackburn (14) to the crease on his first competitive start for Andover first XI for a number of years. It was like the stylish batsman had not been away and he immediately soaked up the pressure, exerting some of his own back onto the bowlers by punishing anything loose.

Sam Ashman (59*) at the other end also started to play himself in and Andover started to regain control. Waterlooville turned to spin and Blackburn pushed the score onto 40 before being caught but he had put Andover in a good position.

Ayers (22*) joined Ashman and this pair looked completely comfortable at everything Waterlooville threw at them.

Ashman in particular played shots all around the wicket and hit six fours in a very well-crafted half-century. It is easy to forget that Ashman, who is now playing regularly for the Hampshire age group side, is only 15 as he looks so commanding whilst at the crease.

Ayers was perfect foil for Ashman, with the classy right-hander also scoring runs with apparent ease. With a few minor scares Andover passed the total in the 25th over for the loss of no further wickets.

This moved Andover straight above Waterlooville into top spot in division two.

Andover welcome Fair Oak to London Road on Saturday with the town side looking to cement their position at the top of the league. Fair Oak, who have won two and lost two from their first four games currently sit mid-table in fifth. Andover will be looking to produce another good team performance to keep their promotion push on track.