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Brewers stun South Wilts

The Brewers headed to Salisbury to take on defending Southern Electric Premier League Champions South Wilts on Saturday. Summer had arrived and Alton were buoyed by their victory over Totton in the T20 the previous Sunday.

Alton Skipper Scott Myers won the toss and chose to make first use of the Lower Bemerton wicket, but Michael Heffernan was given out caught behind second ball of Owen Alsop’s first over, the bat flicking pad but with the Umpire also certain of a faint outside edge – the score 0-1.

Jonathan Dow – elevated to number 3 in the order – looked settled and he and Will Phillips added 25 before Alsop struck again, Dow returning a juicy full toss back at the bowler who clung on well, Dow gone for 9 and the score 25-2.

Scott Myers then fell in similar circumstances, Alsop again the man to snap up the caught and bowled chance from a full toss, Myers gone for 12, 37-3.

Phillips and Dewayne Bowden then looked to rebuild the innings, Phillips stroked some beautifully timed shots across the lightning outfield and the pair took the score on to 75 before Jack Sheppard bowled Bowden off his inside edge for 16. Jack Penn, rightly circumspect, was solid in defence – and Phillips was looking in great touch. Their partnership of 20 ended when Rob Franklin lured Phillips into a drive but he only found Eddie Abel at mid-on and he fell 1 run short of a debut Premier half century.

Leg-spinner Ryan Burl then defeated Penn with a well disguised googly, Penn gone for 1 and Alton limping along at 95-6. Mark Heffernan and Ben Mortimer added 14 more runs before Heffernan (10) edged Burl to Hibberd at slip, a good catch from a full blooded drive.

Jack Myers (3) was resolute in his defence but finally Burl again induced the edge and Tom Morton behind the stumps snapped up the chance, 115-8.

Ireson fell to his first ball, Burl trapping him LBW – 116-9. Mortimer and Ballinger had taken the score to 141 before a Burl full toss struck Ballinger (6) and the Umpire adjudging it to be sliding on to hit the stumps, Mortimer unbeaten on an excellent and untroubled 22.

The batting had failed somewhat and the Brewers knew that they would have to work extremely hard in the field if they were going to take anything from the game and Bowden gave them the best start possible trapping the dangerous Tom Morton LBW second ball for 0.

Eddie Abel and Stephen Riddle settled in and taking advantage of the fielding restrictions had hustled the score onto 27 before a superb delivery from Mortimer pegged back Riddle’s middle stump.

The danger men just keep coming for South Wilts, so when James Hibberd (0) edged a rising Mortimer delivery to wicketkeeper Heffernan the Brewers were in raptures – 27-3.

Mortimer was on fire, Burl struck in front and gone first ball – Mortimer with a triple wicket maiden and South Wilts rocking at 27-4.

It was an incredible bowling spell from Mortimer – his line and length immaculate and very nearly unplayable. The spectators on the balcony of the magnificent Lower Bemerton pavilion showed their appreciation. Many were South Wilts stalwarts gathered to celebrate Vice Presidents day and the Brewers were out to spoil the party.

South Wilts captain James Hayward got to 10 before the Mortimer/Heffernan connection were in business again, 39-5 and when Mortimer induced Abel (14) to edge – Ballinger hungrily snapped up the chance at second slip – 40-6.

Bowden returned after a Ballinger over as Alton looked to apply the pressure and that paid off as Bowden had Alsop LBW for 0, 40-7.

Rob Franklin then settled the innings down – he and Joe Cranch (3) added 34 before Cranch’s attempted drive ricocheted off his pad and Heffernan’s lightning reactions saw him take an incredible catch – 74-8. Stephen Warner then edged a Ballinger variation through to Heffernan and Alton were on the brink of victory – South Wilts 83-9.

Skipper Myers reinforced the need to stay calm and focussed and warned of the danger that Franklin had posed in previous meetings. Sheppard untroubled in defence – Franklin calm and cool in attack, the pair inched the scoreboard toward the target of 142.

Franklin brutal on anything loose, respectful to anything well bowled and smart to anything he could use to rotate the strike, the Brewers were almost helpless as the experienced South Wilts man took no chances and passed a magnificent 50. Alton heads were perhaps collectively dropping as the home side approached their mark.

The score reached 133 before Franklin finally made an error, his attempted sweep shot off Ballinger was given out LBW and Alton had pulled off a remarkable victory. An absolute roller coaster of emotions as the Brewers lurched from ecstasy to agony over and over throughout the contest.

Franklin in many eyes was exceptionally unfortunate to end on the losing side, tidy with the ball and supreme with the bat, his contribution to the home side was only overshadowed by Alton’s Ben Mortimer.

Mortimer calm – cool and powerful with the bat was sent down arguably a career best spell of bowling and ended with 5 wickets for just 29 runs, a really sensational performance from the tall fast bowler.

Alton’s 1st XI head to the Ageas Bowl Nursery ground this Saturday (8th June) for the first of the time games – 11:30am start – to take on the youngsters of the Hampshire Academy.

View the match scorecard here