SOUTH Wilts’ defence of the ECB Southern Electric Premier League championship is finally underway and there was no tinge of disappointment as the double title winners overcame adversity to beat Hampshire Academy by six wickets on the Ageas Bowl Nursery Ground.
Despite seeing their first two league clashes postponed, and being without the injured Ryan Burl, they chased down an Academy total of 224-9 to win with 13 overs to spare.
Skipper Tom Morton, Jack Mynott and James Hayward all hit half-centuries in the run chase.
Hampshire’s total was underpinned by England Under 17 vicecaptain Joe Weatherley (75) and Tom Alsop (78), who has travelled with the squad for the LV= County Championship match at Leicester.
Weatherley, playing his first match on English soil since his successful Easter trip to Sri Lanka with the England EPP squad, looked a quality act as he steered the Academy to 119-1.
Alsop guided the total towards the 200-mark before becoming one of four victims for James Hibberd (4-32), who celebrated his 300th Premier League wicket in the process.
Chris Wood, playing his second match after knee surgery, perished to an over-ambitious reverse-sweep shot off the left-arm spin of Eddie Abel for one.
He later bowled four overs of leftarm medium-pace, pronouncing himself “stiff, but okay” after a second outing in three days.
Morton (69) and Abel (20) took the South Wilts reply to 92 before both openers went in quick succession.
Mynott found himself in a daft run-out situation which cost fellow teenager Harry Hawkins his wicket.
But his unbeaten 64, the bulk of which came in boundaries, and a typically robust half-century (including nine fours) by James Hayward swept South Wilts to a six-wicket win with plenty of time to spare. Left-armpace bowler Tom Barber found himself on the receiving end of the punishment, conceding 77 runs in his eight overs.
Terry Morton, the 58-year old father of South Wilts skipper Tom, was called into action as a substitute when Burl was taken to hospital.
A prominent Southern League representative team player in his Waterlooville days, Morton fielded ‘in the circle’ and made several fine stops.
Bashley are South Wilts’ visitors at Lower Bemerton on Saturday (1pm).