Lee Beck masterclass leads New Milton Cricket Club to 69-run victory over Sarisbury Athletic
Southern Premier League Division One
Sarisbury Athletic CC 174
New Milton CC 263-6 (reduced target)
NEW Milton Cricket Club stalwart Lee Beck was in commanding form, hitting 81 not out and taking five wickets to lead his side to a 69-run victory over Sarisbury Athletic.
New Milton's largely youthful but experienced side was in a confident mood for the opening fixture of the league campaign after a positive pre-season.
Last year's leading Southern Premier League wicket-taker, captain George Watts, lost the toss and was asked to bat first.
The new opening pair Toby Edwards (42) and Joe Hall (20) put on a rapid 64 for the first wicket. Their partnership came to an end when Edwards, in typical style, was bowled while attempting another massive boundary.
Third in the batting order was New Milton's latest recruit, South African Harlan Greig. All-rounder Greig settled well in his first SPL dig and was unlucky to be adjudged LBW on 29 runs.
With the score at 113-3, evergreen all-rounder Lee Beck entered the crease and produced one of his best performances for his boyhood team.
Beck ended with an undefeated 81 off 74 balls, which included seven fours and three sixes.
The 40-year-old marshalled the middle and end of the innings superbly while being supported ably by Alfie Hussey (29), Campbell Golding (15), and Watts (19 not out) to finish on 263-6.
After a rain-affected mid-innings break, the umpires and scorers agreed on a revised total of 244 off 37 overs instead of the original 40 overs.
Sarisbury Athletic's run chase got off to an inauspicious start when Watts (1-16) removed dangerous opener Ricky Rawlings (4) with an early LBW.
The Sarisbury middle order all chipped in with valuable contributions. Elliot Smith (37), Jack Lovett (22) and an excellent Josh Hill (59) kept the scoreboard ticking over.
But when Hill's innings came to an end, so were any hopes of a home win. New Milton's Greig (1-34) tied down the opposition with his medium-pace leg breaks. The ever-increasing required run rate was an insurmountable task for the hosts against New Milton's experienced bowling attack.
Débutante Ed Bartlett bowled well with no luck, but the match-winning performance came from Lee Beck (5-20), who put in a devasting four-over spell ripping through Sarisbury.
Dan Loader (1-29) and spinner Joe Hall (2-36) took the rest of the wickets. Special mention also to Lee Beck's brother, Ryan, who snared two quality catches at wicketkeeper.
New Milton are next in league action away to Basingstoke & North Hants CC at May's Bounty.
New Milton Cricket Club: George Watts, Toby Edwards, Joe Hall, Harlan Greeg, Lee Beck, Campbell Golding, Alfie Hussey, Ryan Beck, Dan Loader, Alex Mills, and Ed Bartlett.