On a delightfully sunny day and with Loperwood Park looking in pristine condition, Calmore Sports 1st XI hosted Alton in their opening home pre-season friendly and came through with a six-wicket victory.
Alton, who finished third in the SEPCL Premier Division last year, would give an extra test after our victory away at South Wilts 2nd XI last weekend.
Alton captain Scott Myers won the toss and elected to bat first. There were home debuts for new signings Steve Wright, Callum Holloway & Paul Bielby, three of the four new winter acquisitions to the club.
It was Wright who took the new ball alongside paceman Luke Johnson, both bowling in great areas and building pressure and with runs at a premium, Johnson enticed Alex Hammond into a drive which he could only edge through to keeper Darren Vann. The partnership of Wright and Johnson struck and after consecutive maidens from both ends it was Johnson (2-12) who struck again in the final over of his spell, with Vann taking a smart catch to dismiss Jack Myers.
Although wicketless, Wright played his part early on with the new ball and built the necessary pressure. Bielby, West and Rose were all introduced into the attack, and despite bowling well, the quality of Mike Heffernan and Scott Myers upped the Alton run rate and began to take control of the game. That was until another new boy, Holloway (1-20), came into the attack and picked up his first Calmore wicket trapping Heffernan LBW for 70 with the score 118/3 with 20 overs remaining. It certainly meant Alton had a good platform to propel themselves to a score in excess of 200.
Captain Lavelle and Ben Perry came into the attack and had other ideas as they bowled well in partnership, tying down the Alton batsmen and picking up wickets at regular intervals meaning Alton could only reach 185/9 off their 50 overs. The captain finished with 4-29 & Perry a tidy 2-21. This was a good effort to restrict Alton to a score below 200, but still improvements to be made in the field with a couple of catches going down.
In reply, the home side got off to an absolute flyer, with Lavelle and Vann registering their 50 partnership within the first 8 overs – it was Vann (15) who fell first, to a fantastic one handed catch right out of the top draw from Heffernan.
Johns joined Lavelle at the crease and the pair pushed the run rate on even further with Lavelle timing the ball well off his legs and Johns his usual classy self, meaning the scoring rate was racing along at well over eight an over. It wasn’t to last though as Lavelle (45) was trapped LBW by Jack Myers with the score at 106/2 off 15 overs.
Tommy Pegler joined Johns in the middle and the pair continued to score freely with Pegler timing the ball sweetly and Johns picking gaps with ease and they got Calmore to within touching distance of victory when Pegler fell to Jack Myers for 25 at 159-3. Debutant Holloway didn’t have the start with the bat he desired falling early again to the leg spin of Jack Myers (3-36). Ben Perry was next to join Johns and the pair saw Calmore home to a fine six-wicket victory with 14 overs to spare, Johns finishing 55* & Perry 10*.
Another good result for the club, with one pre-season match left before the start of the season. The First XI and Second XI travel together next Saturday to Reading in what will be another good test before our first game back in Division 1 on the 2nd May.