Midhurst failed to capitalise on their early-season good form as they were comprehensively beaten at home by a strong Alton side in a top-flight Hampshire League game.
The home side were buoyed by the return of opener Graeme Braithwaite and middle-order specialist George Cussins.
Midhurst were put in and began their innings reasonably well, reaching 30 for no loss before Braithwaite was out lbw for 11. Hughes joined captain Tom Atkins and the pair moved the hosts on to 51 before the skipper was caught for 12.
The run rate stagnated as George Cussins and Hughes became suffocated by a consistent Alton attack.
The pair forged a partnership of 56 before Cussins was controversially given out for 18 with the score on 107.
Midhurst had just 15 of their allotted 50 overs remaining, and were not even halfway to what could be considered a par score.
Their difficulties were made plain when Tim Powell, albeit injured, went out to bat. The former captain, usually able to hit boundaries at will, managed just one in an innings of 20.
Midhurst were 137 for five with seven overs remaining. Steve May joined the resolute Hughes, and together they progressed at a run-a-ball until the latter was eventually run out for 61.
The Midhurst tail failed to reverse the side’s fortunes in the last couple of overs as the team were eventually bowled out for 164.
Having failed to chase down a similar total the week before, Alton attacked from the outset.
With the Midhurst opening bowling pair of Henry Reynolds and Harry Green going for nearly ten an over, Atkins realised the only option was to take the pace off the ball. The move paid immediate dividends with a run-out coming after a dropped catch in off-spinner Cussins’ opening over.
At the other end, slow left-armer Nalinda Premachandra came on in his final match before he relocates to Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
The ever-reliable Premachandra bamboozled the batsmen while also keeping down the run-rate. He was unlucky not to take a wicket in his spell of ten overs and ended with none for 28.
Kneebone, Alton’s opening batsman from New Zealand, anchored the innings and Midhurst did not help their cause by dropping him twice.
Powell, George Reynolds and Atkins all attempted to make a breakthrough but the visitors looked in control throughout.
The end came in the 38th over as Kneebone struck the winning runs to finish on a creditable 76 not out and confirm Alton’s victory by a margin of 8 wickets.
Afterwards, captain Atkins presented Premachandra with a painting of The Ruins in recognition of his service to the club/
Premachandra said: “I’ve greatly enjoyed my time playing here, and I’d like to thank everyone at the club for making it so special - there aren’t many more beautiful places to play.”
Ferndown Wayfarers v Emsworth
Hants League div four south
As one of the south-eastern clubs in Hampshire, Emsworth had a long trip to Dorset to tackle their newest opponents Ferndown Wayfarers.
They arrived just 15 minutes before the start of the game and were put into bat.
Joe Scott and Will Pitts, the latter in fine form a week earlier against Denplan Mansbridge, enjoyed a good start,
Pitts was looking to score quickly but was out with the score on 28 as he got a thick edge and was well caught at slip by Lee Charlton.
Emsworth found the boundary occasionally, Scott showing the full face of the bat and providing stern defence. After the departure of Khalid Al Safi for eight off 16 balls, Scott missed a straight one.
Emsworth’s poor middle order didn’t provide much impetus, with both Lee Gray and Simon Lyth out for ducks.
James Johnson and Mike Smith took Emsworth from 65 for five to 116 before Johnson was bowled by Miles Lewis for 26.
The tail did wag for Emsworth as Smith (32), Jonathan Riches and Mike Offord pushed the score to 168 for nine.
Emsworth were in the hunt for a much-needed win and were boosted by a wicket in the opening over.
Charlton lost his off-stump to a ball from Gray (1-36) that looked to be going down leg before swinging away from middle to off.
Ferndown’s number three didn’t last long - he was bowled by Mark Martin for a single.
Riches made Rob Bowering, who had clubbed a huge six off Gray’s last over, mistime another huge hit that was comfortably taken by Gray.
Only Jordan Warren (30) provided resistance for Ferndown and Emsworth turned the screw.
Mick Offord, who was turning the ball, snared three wickets, the first an edge behind to the keeper, the next two coming in succession as Lyth clung on to some fantastic catches in the slips.
After a bemusing period for Emsworth as Ferndown managed to find some inner fight from last man Mike Jeans (23), Emsworth bowled the hosts out for 125 as Scott took the last wicket with his second ball, a sharp turning snooter that bowled Jeans.
Emsworth take their boosted morale to Langley Manor on Saturday.