Guernsey Press

Greens set high standards with season-opening T20 wins

Guernsey set the bar high for the rest of the season on Friday as the men’s national squad started their summer with impressive back-to-back T20 victories.

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Guernsey seamer Kai Higham, who took four wickets against Hampshire, bowling against Somerset Academy. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33138805)

There was undoubted quality in both visiting first-class academy sides, but the Island side showed excellent proficiency in both defending a total and then chasing one down on a gorgeous day at the KGV, which was in stark contrast to the conditions 48 hours earlier when Guernsey had their scheduled Cornerstone Cup Series opener postponed, forcing the revised schedule for the next two days.

With Hampshire and Somerset eventually going head-to-head in the first two matches of the series, both of which turned out to be T20s as Thursday’s fixture was shortened due to the wet outfield, there was a chance for the hosts to weigh up the opposition.

The indications were that Hampshire, who had a slightly older average age to their first-class counterparts, would be marginally the stronger as they began with successive victories themselves.

Signs were ominous for the hosts, too, when Josh Butler was trapped in front by the pace of England U19 all-rounder Eddie Jack by the first ball of the match.

It is safe to day, though, that the day only got better from their for Guernsey and Butler.

The Greens had to be patient with the bat against Hants, with most of the top order chipping in with moderate contributions, albeit with wickets falling at regular intervals.

It was the seventh-wicket stand of 41 between Ben Ferbrache and Luke Bichard that proved crucial, though, as it gave the hosts something a bit more substantial to defend.

Having built a bit of momentum towards the end of their innings, Guernsey carried that into Hampshire’s run chase and it was newcomer Kai Higham who caused mayhem at the top of the order.

The seamer, who grew up in Sark and still has family there, took all four wickets as Hampshire were reduced to 23 for 4 inside the powerplay.

Charlie Forshaw joined the party by claiming two in two balls before the visitors had even reached 30 and there was no coming back from there as Guernsey closed out a convincing 51-run victory with spinners Adam Martel and Ollie Clapham claiming three wickets between them.

There were a few changes in personnel for the subsequent outing against Somerset, but the quality did not diminish.

If anything, the Greens were more convincing as they grew in confidence.

Bowling first on this occasion, there was not the same tumble of wickets in the powerplay, but the length and control with which Guernsey bowled was excellent as they kept the opposition to only a run-a-ball while the restrictions were in place.

Higham again made the initial breakthrough, helped by a terrific catch from Bichard, and three more had fallen before Somerset reached triple figures.

Ben Church, who made an unbeaten 61, and Lachlan Rice, who launched three sixes, gave the innings the necessary acceleration in their stand of 53, but that was not about to take the game away from Guernsey.

They lost Ben Fitchet early, but Butler and Tom Nightingale both played very nicely to add 90 for the second wicket with some cracking shots along the way, setting up a successful run chase.

The opener made the most of the chances he was afforded by the fielding team to get his side over the line alongside his successor as captain Ollie Nightingale with six wickets and 13 balls to spare.