After last week’s disappointing defeat away at Tichborne Park, the 1st XI were looking to bounce back when Hambledon visited Loperwood Park on Saturday. Missing 4 key players in Goodrich, Pegler, Rose & Proudley, opportunities were given to Dan Croft, Mike Cook, Callum Holloway & debutant Liam Newton.
With rain around on Saturday morning & gloomy skies, the start time was delayed briefly. Upon the toss of the coin, Hambledon skipper Will Bond won the toss and chose to have first use of what looked to be a good cricket wicket for both bat and ball. Wright and Croft took the new ball and it didn’t take long for the first breakthrough as Croft picked up the key wicket of Will Bond (4). Wright soon picked up his first scalp reducing Hambledon to 35/2 off 8 overs. At the other end, Hambledon overseas Nkomo was looking in fine touch, punishing any bad balls on offer and joined by Atkinson the pair started to accelerate the run rate, and it wasn’t until the introduction of Mike West that Calmore managed to pick up their 3rd wicket with the score on 81, Nkomo (47) the man dismissed LBW. Atkinson however was the danger man, finding the boundary at ease and looking untroubled, Liam Newton and West both bowled well, and with a little bit more luck could have picked up some deserved wickets for all their toil.
The introduction of spin was the turning point of the Hambledon innings, with the pitch offering good assistance and Hambledon well set at the 30 over point at 140/3 a score of 250 was well within reach. However, the spin of skipper Mark Lavelle and Ben Perry had other ideas, a couple of dropped chances went down early in their spells, but they plugged away and finally drew Atkinson (60) into a false shot with Lavelle dismissing him caught well by Matt Hardy. The game then turned on its head with Hambledon capitulating to 155/9 losing 6 wickets for 10 runs with Lavelle 4/15 doing the majority of the damage, well supported by Perry 2/29. With 7 overs at the final pair, frustratingly, the bowling of Perry, Holloway & West just couldn’t find the breakthrough with a couple of run out shouts not going our way and another dropped catch, there was to be no maximum bowling points for Calmore as Hambledon finished on 174/9 off their 50 overs.
Building partnerships and responsibility from the top order was the words from Lavelle at tea, if Calmore were to chase down what was thought to be a below par score from Hambledon, although again spin would play a key role were Hambledon to defend their score on the turning pitch. With Goodrich unavailable causing the skipper to ‘Go Ape’ slightly, Matt Hardy was promoted to open the batting, and with skipper Lavelle strode out hoping to score well early. Unfortunately, after finding the boundary Lavelle (7) was dismissed in the 2nd over of the innings chipping the ball back to the bowler. Johns joined Hardy at the crease, and the pair began to push the score on, Hardy in particular finding the boundary regularly. The spin of Atkinson was introduced into the attack early in proceedings and despite looking in good form for his 25, Hardy was bowled by Atkinson trying to go over the top. Aussie Ben Moss strode out to the crease and soon lost partner Johns (17) miss timing a drive straight to mid-off.
Ben Perry joined Moss at the crease and with plenty of time to bat and the innings rocking slightly at 55/3 the pair allowed themselves time to get set. Hambledon rotated the spin trio of Nkomo, Atkinson & Harding but to avail and Perry and Moss built the key partnership of the game, latching on to any loose deliveries and rotating the strike well the pair were tip toeing Calmore towards to winning total. The partnership of 93 was eventually broken when Perry for a well-constructed 38 was dismissed LBW. The standard mini Calmore collapse then ensued going from 148-3 to 156/6 losing Holloway (1) and then Moss soon after passing his maiden 1st XI half century was dismissed for 53 to a delivery that turned and bounced taking the shoulder of the bat on the way to slip, giving Atkinson 3/28 his 3rd and final victim. Debutant Newton (14*) and Cook (11*) then steadied the ship, knocking off the final 20 runs required, with Newton finishing it in style with a big 6 over long off.
A good 4 wicket victory and 21 points secured, cementing our place in 3rd position in the table. Next week we travel to top of the table and unbeaten Trojans in a game that will have a key importance if we are to challenge at the top this season.