Test Valley Windows sponsored Andover 2nd XI finished the 2014 cricket season as champions of their division of the Hampshire Cricket League (County 3 North). Andover played twelve matches in total, winning ten and losing only two. The side itself comprised a blend of youth and experience with an emphasis on playing hard, aggressive cricket and giving responsibility to its younger members who came through and put in some outstanding performances at key moments of the season.
After being relegated the past two seasons, Andover would have hoped to get off to a winning start but came up against Petersfield who also had high expectations this season. Andover started the brighter of the two sides in this fixture, scoring 178 runs from their innings. In reply Andover stifled Petersfield and had them 65 for 5 at one point. But Andover did not take any more wickets and the campaign started with a disappointing loss bringing to the fore all of the past two seasons? doubts. However Andover had a steely determination about them this season and then put together a series of six straight victories, which included huge wins of
128 runs against Steeple Langford and 129 runs against Overton, as well as a 5 run victory against Redlynch & Hale who were also hopeful of promotion. Captain Martin Roberts described this as ?the defining moment of our season?. Andover only posted 190 with Phil Greening rescuing the side with a superb fifty. The game was tight all the way through and it was Andover?s bowlers who stepped up to the mark to secure a close fought contest in the final over of the match. The club?s most improved player, Aidan Jansen, just nineteen years old, bowled the final over. With four games left Andover topped the table but suffered a heavy loss to Hartley Wintney which then put them third. At this stage of the season there were still four teams that could have won the league. But Andover bounced back with crushing nine wicket victories against OT?s & Romsey and Hook & Newnham Basics which propelled the Town side back to the top of the table with just one game left to play.
Heading into that final game against South Wilts Andover needed just eight points to guarantee promotion but knowing that a win would guarantee the league title. Andover played this match like every other they had played this season, aggressively. South Wilts posted only 161 and Andover lost two quick wickets but the experience of Captain Martin Roberts and Shaun Attwood saw the side home to league victory and promotion with an unbeaten partnership of 114 runs. the highest of the season. Andover will enjoy their cricket in County Division 2 next season, looking to continue where they left off.
I can also report that last week Captain Martin Roberts collected the league trophy at the Hampshire awards dinner at the Ageas Bowl, pictured above alongside team members. Robbie Taylor and Aidan Jansen.