The 1st XI travelled to the picturesque Tichborne Park on Saturday, a ground where they have had mixed fortunes in recent years. This was to be a key game as a win would see the 1st XI secure some daylight between themselves and the mid to lower tabled sides.
Skipper Mark Lavelle finally won a toss and chose to bat first. Sadly, for the second time this season the out of form Lavelle (0) was on his back early in proceedings being trapped LBW by Tom Allam. This brought the in form Ben Johns to the crease to join the returning Michael Cook who was opening the batting for the 1st time. The pair wasted no time in getting the scoreboard ticking with Cook in particular playing some exquisite drives through the covers. With the scoreboard ticking along at a tidy rate the 50 partnership was soon brought up and Johns and Cook were not finished there as they moved the innings to 88 before Johns (41) was caught well by Don the Tichborne Park keeper after feathering an under edge behind off leg spinner Gunaratne. Cook was joined by Ben Perry, and soon passed 50, his 2nd in SPL cricket. Perry looked busy at the crease with the tiring Cook, but it was a double blow that opened the door for Tichborne as Cook (59) fell to a superb one handed catch off the bowling of Long and in the next over Ben Perry (12) was bowled by Tichborne skipper Will Allam to leave the innings poised at 122/4 with 17 overs remaining.
Overseas Jack Rutter and new recruit Jimmy Manning were now at the crease and both with attacking intent set about pushing the run rate up with some good running between the wickets and punishment of any bad balls on offer. With overs running out both Rutter (17) & Manning (16) fell to the bowling of Gunaratne (3/66) leaving us at 162/6. The 1st XI possess great depth in their batting this year and with the in-form Proudley and experienced James Rose at the crease for the last 10 overs, a score in excess of 200 was more than achievable. In no time the pair had got themselves set and began to accelerate us above 200, Proudley hitting Tom Allam for two lusty blows whilst Rose managed to clear the ropes himself, looking to get every run we could Proudley was run out for a quickfire 33 which put real impetus back into the innings. Rose (21) then fell as Calmore tried to get themselves to 225 and maximum batting points, this left all-rounders West (8*) and Newton (1*) the job of getting us to 225, and despite their best efforts we fell just short closing the inning on 222/8 – a score that if we bowled well was more than defendable.
With Steve Wright now touring Canada, and the pitch offering assistance to slow bowling, Jimmy Manning opened the bowling alongside seamer Paul Proudley hoping to apply early pressure, however, Tichborne got off to an absolute flier with George Ayling (33 off 10 balls) setting the early tone as Tichborne raced to 44 off 4 overs, with the Calmore lads knowing they were really in a game and had to be at their best. It was one shot too many for Ayling though as he skied a catch off Manning (1/30) comfortably caught by Johns at cover, to give Manning his 1st SPL wicket for Calmore. West replaced Proudley at one end and supported by Manning began to drop the run rate back down and at the 10 over mark Tichborne had been slowed down drastically as they were well placed at 55/1. With pace off the ball being the order of the day, skipper Lavelle came into the attack and struck a double blow straight away picking up two wickets in his first over to dismiss Allen (19) & D0n (0) and leave Tichborne 62/3 off 12 overs. Manning and Lavelle really dried up the runs as they bowled in tandem and the pressure soon told as Lavelle picked up his third clean bowling Gunaratne (6) and further reducing Tichborne to 69/4.
This breakthrough brought together the Allam brothers and the Calmore lads knew this would be the key partnership of the innings to break, early on in the partnership the pair moved the scoreboard on at a very sedate rate, as Manning finished his tidy 10 over spell and Lavelle brought himself out of the attack after taking 3/8 off 6 overs. Further spin was introduced as Aussie Rutter and Rose came into the attack. The Allam brothers took their time to get set and then began to push the scoreboard on and at drinks had the innings eagerly poised at 92/4. Rutter and Rose continued well and now had the required rate pushing towards 6 an over and above, the pressure finally told, as Rose forced Will Allam (18) into a false shot and trapped him LBW leaving Tichborne 115/5. Jack Skinner joined Tom Allam and began to play some shots, and with the pair now working well together the required rate stayed at around 6.5 an over going into the last 15 overs. West replaced Rutter in the attack and used all his experience to build some dot ball pressure, and deserved to get a wicket of his own as he saw a couple of chances go begging. Rose finished his 10 overs with 1/26 doing an excellent containing job for the team in the middle overs and now leaving the run rate required at over 7 an over with 8 overs remaining.
Skipper Lavelle brought himself back on with West and the pressure of the chase finally told, as Lavelle enticed Tom Allam (57) into a big shot that he missed and was clean bowled. With Skinner still going well the job was not yet done, and a couple of blows off West saw Tichborne stay in the game, this was until Lavelle wrote himself into the record books as he sent Tichborne spiralling from 180/6 to 189/8 picking up his 5th and 6th wicket of the game and dismissing the last recognised batsman of Tichborne Skinner (40) well caught by Rose at long on. West finished off his good spell at the death and was highly unlucky not to take a wicket or two with him, and with one over remaining Tichborne required 25 to win, with two wickets remaining. The score was not to change however, as Lavelle finished his dream spell picking up the last two Tichborne wickets and finishing with quite extraordinary figures of 8/17 off 9.3 overs breaking the SPL Division 1 record and the the 1st XI club record for best figures in a game in the process, leading his side to a 24 run victory. This makes it 4 wins out of 5 for the 1st XI which leaves them joint top of the table with Bournemouth going into next weeks tough test at home to Ventnor last years relegated side from the Premier Division.