It was a disappointing end to the season in Southern Premier Division 2 for Fair Oak, who after featuring in the promotion race for much of the summer lost at home to Fawley on the final day to finish fifth in the ten-team division.

Sufian Munir (2-19) was the main architect of Oaks’ defeat, bagging a couple of early wickets, as did Aqab Ahmed (5 for 35), to leave the home team reeling at 55 for 5 (Charlie Gwynn 19). Fair Oak did better in the second half of their innings, with Harry Reed making 25 and Monty McKenzie 22. But Wayne Smith’s late 2 for 18 left Oaks to defend a distinctly under-par total of 112 all out.

The ever-reliable Gwynn took 3 for 20 to reduce Fawley from 52 for 1 to 76 for 4. But Munir, who batted throughout the innings, hit a six and twelve fours to finish unbeaten on 72 from just 76 balls after getting good support from Callum Earl (21no). Fawley reached 116 for 4 with 13 overs still unused to chalk up a convincing win, which guaranteed their own survival; Paultons and South Wilts II finished in the relegation positions, while Liphook & Ripsley and Ventnor, starting the day first and second, both won to seal their own promotion.

It was all smiles for Fair Oak 2nd XI, though. James Todd’s men won at Follands in a trademark cliff-hanger to finish second in Hampshire Division 3 South behind runaway champions Mudeford, and can look forward to 2022 in County 2.

Oaks found the going tough early on, and were wobbling at 38 for 3 with Gayan Lakshitha taking 2 for 38 and Joe Batchelor 2 for 27. But the visitors’ middle order batted consistently as Ed Kemp (20), Matt White (38), Todd (32) and Alex Chessell (22) upped the scoring rate. Despite four late wickets for 41 by Pasindu Liyanage, Tom Clark jr bludgeoned 38 not out in the last few overs to help Oaks post a formidable 189 for 9. After tea Oaks looked to their pace bowlers, definitely the team’s strong suit, to press home their advantage and at 45 for 4 (Nick Bass 2 for 38, James Featherstone 2 for 30) all seemed to be going according to plan. But Gayan then unleashed a remarkable innings, hitting the ball high, wide and frequently to keep the result in the balance. In the end he was trapped LBW for 90 by the excellent Chessell (3 for 38) at 174 for 8 and the Follands innings ended shortly afterwards at 175 all out.

Fair Oak III finished fourth in Division 5 South after an imposing batting display in their final match of the season away to Ampfield & North Baddesley. Shaun Buttle rolled back the years – lots of them – for an unbeaten 80 and shared in an unbroken third-wicket stand of 121 with skipper James Castle (67no). Rob Munday’s rapid 41 was also instrumental as Oaks racked up 215 for 2 from their 40 overs.

Buttle rounded off a good day with 2 for 41 as Ampfield replied with 195 for 8. Dave Nevin chipped in with 2 for 24 as the hosts put up a creditable display with the bat, Ben Hatcher and Dan Millward top scoring with 39 and 37 respectively.

In Hampshire Division 6 South East, Fair Oak IV completed a tough season by beating Portsmouth & Southsea IV at Swanmore. Jamie Sparshott was the star of the show, blasting 89 off 79 balls with useful supporting roles from Alex Bucknell (31) and Ian Bass (45). Ben Hallatt took 3 for 14 for P&S.

The visitors batted consistently, the top four all passing 30, but Callum Lord’s 3 for 43 tilted the balance in Oaks’ favour. Portsmouth & Southsea eventually came up 10 runs short at 205 for 7, the 22 points garnered lifting Fair Oak’s youngsters out of the basement zone.

Greg Boughton