Evans takes five in day one at Ageas Bowl

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL | Day 1: Hampshire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

SCORE | Hampshire CCC 290 for nine v Leicestershire CCC


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, was the venue for the SEC Final between Hampshire and Leicestershire. The Ageas Bowl has been home to Hampshire CCC since 2001. As per regulations, a draw took place to determine the venue for the Final as the home grounds of Hampshire CCC and Leicestershire CCC were both available.

Hampshire CCC came out of the hat first, so took the right to host the Final. Hampshire finished at the summit of the Southern Group in the SEC, with Leicestershire CCC top of the Northern Group. The SEC Final is played over 4 days, with a minimum of 96 overs per day. The Golden Hour, which is available for SEC games, does not apply to the Final.

If the match finishes in a draw, the side that has the highest score in the first innings will be SEC Champions. In my eight years of scoring for Leicestershire Second XI, this is the third time the team has reached the SEC Final: 2012 v Kent at the FCG (lost), and 2014 v Essex at Chelmsford (won) being the other occasions.

The Ageas Bowl has a cavernous appearance, it has capacity to accommodate 25,000 when temporary seating is installed, and has hosted many International matches. England have played Test Matches against both India and Sri Lanka, at this south coast solarium.

The day ended with honours just about even after two tremendous performances by teenagers. Alex Evans turned in an excellent performance for Leicestershire CCC. The 19-year-old seamer returned impressive figures of 5-58 from 19 overs.

Hampshire CCC were in trouble on 95 for five but a fine undefeated century by 17-year-old Fletcha Middleton took the hosts to 290 for nine at stumps.

Sam Evans skippered Leicestershire CCC, his opposite number Felix Organ won the toss, and elected to bat. A bit of a first for Tom Smith’s 2s as Super Snapper John Mallett was on hand with his Box Brownie taking photographs of the Captains and Umpires at the toss.

The players took to the field under a somewhat cloudy sky, but it was very warm. Spectators positioned themselves, as near to behind the arm as they could get, at both the Pavilion End and the Hotel End.

Felix Organ and Ollie Soames opened up for Hampshire CCC against an opening attack of Gavin Griffiths and Alex Evans. Organ (10, 16b) was first to go when Evans trapped him lbw. Organ out of tune, and no barrel of runs for him today.

Only eight runs had been added when the left-handed Tom Alsop (8, 10b) was pinned in front by Evans. Hampshire CCC 21-2 (8). Sam Evans made a double bowling change after 14 overs, Callum Parkinson and Ben Mike replacing Griffiths and Alex Evans respectively.

In Mike’s fourth over, Soames (14, 67b) was another lbw victim when Mike trapped him in front. Hampshire CCC were now at 52 for three. Harry Came (30*) and Middleton (5*) took Hampshire CCC into lunch on 75-3 (30).

Griffiths and Evans opened the attack after lunch, and in the fourth over of his spell, the effervescent Evans struck with two wickets in two balls. Came (41, 87b) went caught behind by keeper Harry Swindells, and next ball the dangerous James Fuller (0) was bowled, leg stump, by Evans. Hampshire CCC now struggling at 95 for five.

The south coast county then mounted a salvage operation thanks to Middleton and Scott Currie. They posted a 50 partnership from 73 balls when the score reached 146-5 (49.4 overs). During their 50 alliance Middleton was struck a blow on the helmet from a delivery by Mike, the ball subsequently going for four leg byes.

Middleton was on 19 at the time, and it is a credit to him that he remained unruffled by the blow, and went on to post a three figure score. Currie went to his 50 (6x4) 76b from the final delivery before tea.

Some 20 minutes before tea the umpires radioed the scorers, and asked that the floodlights be switched on. Good job us scoring types don’t work strictly to a job description, I very much doubt if tasks related to the National Grid are within our remit. Hampshire into Tea on 188-5 (64 overs).

The first two overs after tea brought two wickets for the Foxes. Currie (54, 81b) went caught behind by Swindells off Parkinson, the ever alert ‘keeper taking the catch down the leg side. Currie off the menu. In the next over Keith Barker (0, 3b) was bowled by Evans.

Hampshire CCC were now at 193-7, and there was a five-for for Evans. Yet another inspired performance from the irrepressible Evans, who has turned in some excellent performances for the Second XI this season.

The sun came out after tea, but the floodlights had to remain on. On the distant horizon some 10 miles away, I could see the sun reflecting off, what I was told, was the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth (Editor’s note: If you spot John Marquis, get him on the bus back with you Pete). The Hampshire tail then wagged somewhat whilst supporting Middleton.

Just after the latest two wickets had fallen, Middleton went to his 50 (139b, 7x4), the score on 199 for seven. Leicestershire CCC took the new ball two deliveries after it was available. (I hope Leicestershire based Umpire Huw Davies, who I know reads these reports, likes the word available).

Two balls after the new cherry had been taken, George Metzger (14) 59b was caught behind by Swindells off Griffiths. A trio of catches for The Swindler, and a much-deserved wicket for the miserly Griffiths.

Ryan Stevenson ensured that the Hampshire tail kept wagging, assisting Middleton in adding 46 runs for the ninth wicket. Stevenson (20, 42b) eventually went caught at short cover by Harry Dearden off the bowling of Parkinson. Parkinson, having bowled more overs than any bowler today, picked up two for 51 from 21.

Last man Ajit Dale came to the crease with Middleton on 91*. A Jack Leach was required by Dale, in the hope of seeing Middleton to three figures.

Middleton went to his 100 (207b, 13x4) when he drilled Parkinson through extra cover to the boundary. A fine innings by the youngster tailored the situation his team found themselves in.

Hampshire CCC went into stumps at 290 for nine, Middleton (103*, 214b) and Dale (0*, 4b). Wicket takers for Leicestershire CCC: Alex Evans 5-58 (19), Parkinson 2-51 (21), Griffiths 1-43 (20), and Mike 1-71 (18). No wickets for Andy Jones or Arron Lilley who bowled nine overs each: 0-28, and 0-27 respectively.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.