BASHLEY lost by three runs to South Wilts in the only ECB Southern Premier Division match to survive the mid-afternoon rain which swept the region on Saturday, washing out all bar five of the scheduled programme.

The BCG contest between two of the Premier Division’s leading lights went to the wire, with South Wilts narrowly defending 243 for six after Bashley had clawed their way back from 136 for six to needing five runs to win off Ryan Murray’s final ball, with their last pair at the crease.

But an absorbing affair ended on a sour note with Bashley distinctly unhappy about a number of umpiring decisions and skipper Michael Porter making his feelings known when the players left the field.

The South Wilts innings was based around a century second-wicket partnership between Tom Morton (73) and Will Wade (49), who eased the visitors to 125 for one at the mid-point of the innings, at which point the latter was superbly run out by a direct hit.

Morton showed all of past characteristics, blasting 12 boundaries as the 100 came up after 18 overs.

Wade now strikes the ball a lot harder and, with a 50 beckoning, was unlucky to be the victim of some excellent fielding.

His departure prompted a mini wobble with Bournemouth University all-rounder Tim Taylor (3-46), the architect of Wade’s demise, taking three wickets in six overs.

The exit of Ben Draper (21) left the South Wilts innings at a potential crossroads at 176 for five.

But Arthur Godsal (46 not out) and James Hibberd (19 not out) tilted the balance, their unbroken pre-tea stand taking South Wilts to 243 for six.

Hibberd, who finished with four for 43, reduced Bashley to 41 for two in the 11th over.

Taylor (16) and Porter lifted the reply to 85 for three when the Leicestershire-raised university media student was trapped leg before.

Confident after his unbeaten century at Alton a week earlier, Porter (44, seven fours) was timing the ball nicely and at 116 for three (25 overs) was steering Bashley into a threatening position.

But his contribution ended abruptly when Jack Mynott, bowling his off-spin round the wicket, got a leg before verdict from umpire John Attridge as Porter attempted a low pull shot.

It fuelled ill-feeling and when Phil Morris was superbly run out by Godsal and Josh Digby fell to Mynott (2-28) Bashley were 136 for six.

The tide was turning towards South Wilts, who maintained the pressure through their constant appealing.

But Premier Division sides bat in depth and a battling 62-run partnership between the emerging Patrick Holly (49) and Sam Thomson (24) put the outcome back in the melting pot.

A slick piece of glovework by Morton curtailed Holly’s fight-back one run shy of a deserved half-century.

Bashley lost two wickets at 198, but with 33 runs required off the last five overs, Thomson and Brad Currie (26 not out) gave it a real crack.

They took 12 runs off the next two overs, but found nine runs off Murray’s final over a step too far and closed four runs short of victory at 240-9.

Despite the loss, Bashley coach Steve Wilson drew plenty of positives from his side’s performance.

He said: “A year ago we’d have been 160 all out in similar circumstances, but we’ve moved forward.

“Patrick Holly underlined the character we have as a unit and (from 136-6) the lower-order battled to get us so close in the end.

“South Wilts have an experience bowling attack, so we can take a lot of encouragement from the way we fought.”

Meanwhile, Bashley had to break the back of a potentially threatening Waterlooville recovery in order to clinch a place in next month’s ECB Royal London national club championship regional semi-finals.

Defending a modest 176, Bash were under pressure as Waterlooville rallied from two early blow by Scott Currie (2-21) to reach 111-2 through Jon Hudson (45) and Alex Shephard (44).

But once the pair were parted, Ville lost their way and their wickets, five falling for only 16 runs, three of them to left-armer Brad Currie (3-16), who was playing alongside his sibling brother for the first time in senior cricket.

Waterlooville closed 164-9, 12 runs adrift of Bashley’s 176, an innings underpinned by Michael Porter’s 76, which included four maximums and five fours.

Fielding only four first team regulars, Bashley suffered an identical collapse, from 160-5, but hung on to win.

Bashley are away to Havant – comfortable eight-wicket winners over Chichester Priory Park – in round three on Sunday, June 3.