A second successive home victory has taken Fair Oak to the giddy heights of seventh in Southern Premier Division 2.

A punishing bowling spell by Tom Merrill was the key factor in their triumph over Langley Manor, who sit a couple of places above them in the table.

There were few signs of what was to come in the early stages, with ex-Hampshire legend Sean Ervine and opener James Purnell in watchful mode. 

They got Langley to 50 for 1, but then Merrill went on the rampage. Getting plenty of lift and pace from the pitch, he took five wickets for 22 to rip the heart out of the visitors’ batting. 

When he signed off, the artful spin of Rhys Oxley took centre stage. Purnell aside only Max Bignell, with 15, could make it to double figures as Oxley’s three-an-a-half overs brought him three scalps for just nine runs. The Manor were all out for 105.

A modest run chase was much to the liking of Fair Oak skipper and opening bat Harry Reed.  Proceeding at his own pace, he shared in a second-wicket stand of 47 with his brother Sam Reed (32) to take his side to 58 for 2.

Toby Green did his best to check Fair Oak’s progress.  His ten-over spell yielded just 19 runs for two wickets as Oaks had a minor wobble – compounded by the absence of Rich Featherstone, who had split the webbing between his fingers while fielding and was unable to bat. 

But keeper-batsman Matt White took up the reins with relish, making 20 not out in an unbroken stand of 34 with his captain, who remained undefeated on 36 at the close.  Oaks reached a winning 108 for 4 in the 39th over to put 20 points in the bag while Langley could muster just 2.  Next week Fair Oak visit league leaders Hambledon in a bid to chalk up a hat-trick of victories.

Torrential overnight rain at Purbrook led to Fair Oak II’s scheduled fixture in Hampshire League Division 2 being called off on Saturday morning.

Fair Oak III picked up a second consecutive win in Hampshire Division 4 South, against Calmore Sports III at Botley in a tight finish.  Oliver Brady (35) and Mohammad Fahad (25) had Calmore nicely poised at 72 for 3, but then the Oaks spinners got to work.  Callum Lord took 3 for 34 and Tom Turner 3 for 34 as the visitors fell away to 127 all out.

The Fair Oak innings followed a similar pattern.  Matt Smith made 32, but the hosts collapsed from 85 for 4 to 94 for 9 with Iqrar Mohammad snapping up five wickets for 38.  Keir Smith and Charlie White then snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with 11 not out and 23 not out respectively, taking Oaks to a one-wicket victory at 131 for 9. 

Fair Oak IV got back on the Hampshire Division 5 South winning trail at Easton & Martyr Worthy II.  Late call-up Jamie Sparshott hit an unbeaten 107 out of Oaks’ 187 for 8 with late support from Zach Jones (21no).  Orlando Prestidge and Teddy Creasy each bagged a brace for Easton.

In reply Easton’s main contributions came from Ben Richardson (45) and Fair Oak old boy Adi Mandrekar (22).  A consistent bowling performance with Mayank Visavadia, Luke Skinn, Connor Potter and Tom Clark-James all taking two wickets saw the home side dismissed for 142 runs and Oaks victors by 45 runs.  Oaks are now up to 15th in the table, just above the relegation zone.