Fours and sixes flew all around Sparsholt's immaculate Norman Edwards Ground as the club's Australian import Joe Merlino smashed career best 173 off promotion chasing Parley's battered attack.

He cleared the boundary rope nine times and hit 19 fours - 130 of his runs came in boundaries - but according to his agent Paul Hillier back in Northern New South Wales, Merlino's knock wasn't as good as his 110 against South Wilts seconds the previous week, writes Mike Vimpany.

Hillier, who used to play for Chichester Priory Park and arranged for Merlino and Fawley's Connor Gibson to spend the summer playing club cricket locally, watched the Southern Premier Division 3 game live on YouTube.

"This is going to sound a bit odd, but reckon Joe probably batted better the previous week," Hillier said after watching from his Newcastle NSW home.

"He’s loving the Sparsholt deck – and having some hand in preparing it and the immaculate outfield makes it even better.

"It's never easy making your first trip overseas but Joe's settled in with the Ley family an absolute treat. They've been wonderful hosts and have tracked down his favourite Aussie beer to sip."

Merlino's run spree pointed Sparsholt to a league best 357-3, which also contained useful contributions from RAF batsman Jack Fuller (70) and skipper Tom Berzins, who clouted a quick fire 61 not out.

But Merlino and Sparsholt didn't have things all their own way as Parley, who decided to bowl first, responded with 328 all out - and took the match run aggregate to a staggering 685!

Sparsholt's boundary count was ten sixes and 36 fours. Parley responded with nine maximums and 34 fours, all of which had scorers Ethel Kingston and Janie Jacques working overtime and the electronic scoreboard nearly overheating.

Parley, who share second place in SPL3 with Trojans, put bat to ball with some gusto, teenagers Kieran Laird (58) and Paul Rook, with five sixes and five fours in a whirlwind 59, top scoring after a lively 41 from opener Tom Saunders. 

Sparsholt, who have suffered consecutive relegations in the past two seasons, won by 29 runs to move to fourth place in the table.