The 1st XI became champions of Southern League Division 2 on Saturday after their final game of the season away at Bashley was abandoned at tea with the hosts posting 208/6 before the rain arrived.

At the start of the day the situation was clear, 1 point would see the 1st XI promoted back to SPL 1 at the first attempt, whilst a win would see the title go back to Loperwood Park and seal the 1st XI’s first title win since current club president Steve Brandes led his side to the Hampshire County 1 title back in 1994! Skipper Mark Lavelle won the toss and chose to bowl in order to secure the point needed for promotion and calm any nerves that were in the camp.

Paul Proudley and Steve Wright shared the new ball as they have all season, both of which have bowled superbly this year with Proudley taking the wickets as Wright built the pressure. However, it was roles reversed as Proudley gave nothing away early on and Wright picked up the first 2 wickets of the innings dismissing Morris (4) and Grierson (0) and securing that all important first bonus point and guaranteeing promotion, regardless of results elsewhere, Ben Johns gleefully holding the catch and creating pandemonium for all the lads on the field who breathed a great sigh of relief after all the hard work this season.

Despite Proudley (0/20) and Wright (2/20) bowling well the experienced pair of Neil Thurgood and Andy Neal put up great resistance against anything the Calmore bowlers had to offer and despite West being his usual classy self, the pair had both passed 50 and had put on 100 for the 3rd wicket. The previous celebrations of securing promotion a distant memory as the title was still up for grabs. Thurgood (58) eventually fell smartly stumped by Cook off the bowling of Lavelle (1/41) and at 122/3 off 30 overs the innings hinged on Andy Neal and Bashley overseas Gavin Bailiff who was dropped down for the 1st team to try and help Bashley avoid the drop.

Spin twins Lavelle and Rose (1/51) continued in their normal way with Rose dismissing Bailiff cheaply, were ably assisted by Perry (1/36) who had Neal caught for a well-constructed 83 and West (1/31) managed to make some important breakthroughs throughout the rest of the innings and restrict Bashley to 208/6 off their 50 overs, a score the Calmore dressing room thought was probably 40 to 50 runs below par, so a great effort with the ball, although the fielding effort from Calmore was the only disappointing aspect of the day.

With tea taken and the weather radar telling us the rain was on route, it was questionable whether a game would be completed and low and behold 1 minute after Lavelle and Hardy had strapped the pads on ready to go out, the heavens opened and the Bashley Cricket Ground was soon under water. Match abandoned like the majority of the SPL that day and with a no result, Calmore Sports 1st XI were crowned champions of SPL Division 2 and 22 years of hurt and title-less seasons were now a distance memory as the champagne was popped and the lads smiled, danced, sung and drunk late on into the night. A fantastic achievement from all the lads that have played in the 1st XI this season to bounce straight back up after relegation last season makes it all the sweeter, bring on 2017!