AFTER back-to-back wins, South Wilts second XI were able to make it three in a row, thanks mainly to a fine eighth wicket partnership of 90 between Steve Kidd and Steve Booth when they hosted Paultons on Saturday.

The day started with Paultons winning the toss and on a wearing wicket, unsurprisingly deciding to bat first. In-form Marc Burton made early inroads, claiming both openers and with just 22 on the board, it already had the feel of a much lower scoring game than when 500 runs were scored on the same wicket, just seven days ago.

With both opening bowlers keeping it tight, it was then the spin duo of Rob Pittman and Tom Pearce that took a hold of the innings. Only Josh Metcalfe (48) made a significant contribution, yet with others chipping in the innings was slowly creeping up towards something verging on competitive. 78-5 turned into 166-7, a strong recovery from the visitors and, when they finally closed on 187-9, neither team were to be fully satisfied with their first half work. Pittman and Pearce took 3-41 and 3-38 respectively and Antony Richman scored a valuable 32 at number 8 for the visitors.

In reply, the hosts knew this wasn’t going to be an easy chase and when overseas player James Bills struck twice early it became even tougher. Owain Phillips and Joe Cranch put on a solid 58 for the 3rd wicket but when Cranch fell to his only loose shot being caught at cover, the game was to take a dramatic twist. 68-3 was to become 98-7 and with the rate creeping towards 5’s going into the last 20 overs, it wasn’t just wickets that were a problem. Steve Kidd showed composure and, having been consistent with the bat all year, this was his chance to make a winning contribution. Both he and Steve Booth showed intent, not just in punishing poor balls but also in the running between the wickets. Paultons will rue only having one slow bowler in their armoury and with the pace back on the ball, things looked suddenly comfortable for the batters. The winning runs came with a whole 7 overs to go and a huge win for the 2nd team. Kidd 41, and Booth 47, giving a lesson in how to bat on a deteriorating wicket. Andrew Denney 3-36 for the visitors.

While other teams at the bottom of the table also won on Saturday, this won’t dishearten the 2nd team in any way. They will know if they can find ways of winning, which they have done, then there will soon be more than just one team below them in the table. This Saturday sees a very difficult trip to Hartley Wintney, a ground that is picturesque and unique in its own way.