Andover 1st XI - SEPL Div.2 Champions
Andover 1st XI 2010 review (editorial by Ali Hooper)
Southern League Division 2 Champions and Twenty20 Cup Semi-Finalists…
Andover 1st XI had their most successful season in the club’s history after they claimed the Southern Electric Premier League Division Two title. After being relegated from division one the previous year and losing 7 key players, the side did not expect to be competing at the top of the table. However, some shrewd signings over the winter, including former Havant run-machine Will Prozesky and New Zealand under 21 star James O’Gorman, and under the new captaincy of Richard Taylor, the side started the season in style. In their first game of the season, they overcame last season’s third place side Burridge in the rain thanks to an excellent knock from Jonty Hadfield, the first of four fifties for him over the course of the season, which was followed by a trouncing 9 wicket win over local rivals Hursley. It was against Hursley that the Andover side witnessed first-hand why Will Prozesky is so highly rated as he struck a quick-fire 90.
After two convincing wins, the Andover campaign hit a bump as Hartley Wintney chased down a huge 301 at the compact Hartley ground. This was a shock to the system for the boys but arguably was the ‘kick up the backside’ that they needed because in the next game Andover broke a host of records at Rowledge. After Ali Hooper had demolished the new ball to all parts of the ground on his way to a rapid fifty, Will Prozesky crashed 177 in 90 balls, an Andover record, and led the team to 412-4, a southern league record. James O’Gorman, Mark Copleston and Ali Hooper all scored back-to-back fifties in those two games as the town side started to light up the Silver league with their powerful hitting.
The young Andover side then started a nine game unbeaten run, including some thumping victories. James O’Gorman inspired an excellent team display to see off second placed Hook and Newnham Basics. The kiwi import blasted a chanceless hundred to help post 277 which Hook did not even come close to reaching. The Andover bowling unit of Richard Taylor, Mike Adams, Luke Graham, James O’Gorman and the Hadfield spin duo, Chris and Jonty, were really starting to gel and wickets were shared evenly amongst them. The bowlers were playing an integral part in the side’s success by restricting sides to low totals, which made it easy pickings for the batsmen.
Victories over Havant, Bournemouth and Paultons set the side up nicely for the biggest game of the year, New Milton at home. The new forest side had not lost a game all season when they travelled to Andover and were sitting top of the pile but came crashing back down to earth when the in-form Andover team pulled off a 46 run win. The Hadfield brothers came good once again with the bat, both scoring fifties and ensuring a competitive total was posted. Skipper Richard Taylor then worked his magic with the ball, taking 6-45, the side’s best bowling figures of the year, in a devastating opening spell that effectively ended New Milton’s chances of winning. At the half-way stage, Andover were sitting second in the league, the narrowest of margins separating them and New Milton, and were progressing through the twenty20 cup rounds having toppled last year’s champions Lymington in a superb game of cricket. O’Gorman proving what a talent he is as he smashed 90 not out to send the Division One side crashing out of the tournament.
Andover continued their excellent league form with two crushing victories over Hursley Park and Burridge, the latter involving a 140 run chase in 14 overs thanks to Hooper, O’Gorman and of course, Prozesky. When Hartley Wintney was washed out after some heavy overnight rain and Rowledge were thumped at London Road, Andover were top of the league and stretching their lead every week thanks to New Milton going on a five game losing streak.
A seven day wobble saw the town side enter their worst patch of the season, losing to Hook in the semi-final of the twenty20 in front of a packed house at London Road and losing to lowly Havant in the league a week later. However, the team bounced back in style crushing Bournemouth by nine wickets thanks to a timely 70 not out by Hooper after the bowlers had restricted the away team to 140. The league decider at Hook was washed out after torrential rain which meant Andover needed to claim 10 points from their final two fixtures to win the league and gain promotion back up to the top flight.
The team achieved this in emphatic style as they defeated Paultons by 5 wickets thanks to a majestic ton from Prozesky. The South African born powerhouse inspired yet another rapid run-chase after the bowlers had once again restricted the away team to a low total. The season typically ended in anti-climatic style with a loss at New Milton but with the league title already in the bag, it was of little relevance.
The Andover side had gelled perfectly and the game plan was simple but incredibly effective. The batting innings always got off to an electric start with big hitters Prozesky and Hooper cashing in on the fielding restrictions and they were well supported by the aggressive O’Gorman and Copleston. The Hadfield brothers steadied the middle order on numerous occasions and the tail contributed when it was asked of them. The bowlers knew their roles within the side; Mike Adams (23 wickets) opened up with Richard Taylor (32 wickets) and were followed up by Luke Graham (27 wickets), James O’Gorman (16 wickets) and the Hadfield brothers, Chris (9 wickets) and Jonty (16 wickets) in the middle overs. The fielding was always sharp, led the way by O’Gorman who was top catcher in the league with 14 catches and Cillie Van Der Merwe behind the stumps, who was as impressive as ever with the gloves (16 catches and 7 stumpings – the most stumpings in the league). Every member in the side played their part. On the odd occasion, players stepped up from the second eleven and contributed. Notable performances from those second team players include Martin Roberts’ crucial 27 not out against New Milton, Robbie Hadfield’s five victims in one game behind the stumps and Luke Andrews’ big hitting against Lymington and Alton in the cup.
The record breaking 412 against Rowledge aside, Andover produced some impressive statistics over the course of the season. 21 fifties and 3 hundreds were scored in their 16 games as 4 players scored over 400 runs in the season; Hooper, Jonty Hadfield, O’Gorman and Prozesky leading the way with Prozesky racking up a huge 805 runs to leave him finishing 3rd in the league run scorer’s chart, only 30 runs off top spot. With only one 5-wicket-haul to the bowler’s names, this demonstrates how evenly the wickets were spread amongst the bowlers in every game and what an effective unit they were all season.
Andover finished the season having lost just 3 games, one of which was after they had sealed the title, and winning 13 and are now back in Division one. It truly was a superb season that saw young Andover talent realising their potential and a real team effort to win the league. The side played with a smile on their faces and with awesome team spirit, which carried them through some tricky moments. Every player contributed and it will be remembered as a season of success.