After a frustrating pre-season campaign where the 1st XI only managed one fixture, the start of the league season was upon us.

A hot, sunny day greeted the players at Loperwood Park and big thanks go to those who offered their help on Friday evening and Saturday morning to ensure the ground was looking its best and ensuring the game went ahead!  Skipper Mark Lavelle has a growing reputation of being a ‘useless tosser’ when it comes to the flip of the coin, but on this occasion won the toss and asked Fawley to bat first.

It wasn’t long until opening bowlers Steve Wright and Paul Proudley backed up the skippers decision to bowl first, taking a wicket a piece and reducing Fawley to 10/2.  However, despite some good seam bowling from the two openers and Mike West, Fawley had the slight upper hand at the 20 over mark pushing themselves through the tricky opening period to 50/3 with opener Nason still at the crease and set alongside the quick scoring Andy Parratt.

However, the introduction of the spin twins Lavelle and James Rose turned the game Calmore’s way, with runs hard to come by due to some superb fielding and wickets falling at regular intervals, Fawley had collapsed to 81/8 – skipper Lavelle impressing in particular with figures of 10-6-8-2, boring!!

With 10 overs left in the innings, Calmore had high hopes of taking the last two wickets quickly and getting themselves out of the now burning sun.  Fawley keeper Kieran Earl was still at the crease and although not scoring quickly was beginning to build a partnership with tailender Godden, frustratingly for Calmore the pair managed to put on 49 for the 9th wicket and take Fawley to 130/9 with West trapping Godden LBW to claim his 100th SPL wicket for the club.

The Fawley score was becoming a lot closer to the score of 150+ that was seen as a par score on the day, thankfully Proudley wrapped up the innings quickly with an over to spare and Fawley finished on 135 all out, with all the bowlers picking up wickets & K.Earl finishing 30* for Fawley.

After a superb tea as always, openers Lavelle and Goodrich set about chasing down the total, with the plan in the camp that if we bat the 50 overs the game should be ours.

The opening bowlers of Fawley hit very good areas in the first 10 overs with few bad balls available for Calmore to get the scoreboard going.  At 16/0 off 10, albeit the run rate not racing along, the wickets in hand column remained the most important, sadly this didn’t last long as Lavelle was dismissed, caught at mid-on for a change!  This brought Johns to the crease and he quickly got into his stride, with a few more loose deliveries now being bowled, he and Goodrich managed to keep pushing the score on closer to that winning total.

After a strong partnership of 40 taking us to 56, Johns was dismissed LBW to a skidding delivery from the spin of Smith, this didn’t slow the rate however, as Aussie import Ben Moss kept the score ticking with Goodrich, and it seemed as though Calmore would ease home to victory with wickets in hand.

A statement you can never really say too loudly at Loperwood as the old ‘Calmore Collapse’ hoodoo seemed to be unfolding in front of our eyes…. AGAIN!  85/2 quickly became 89/6 with Calmore losing Moss, Goodrich for a very important 38, debutant Matt Hardy and Ben Perry, the game had quickly swung Fawley’s way and it was very much in the balance.

The experienced duo of Pegler and Rose were now at the crease – the pair had seen many situations like this before – and it took the cool head of Pegler to take control of the situation. Despite a quick double blow losing Rose and West and still requiring 34 to win with two wickets remaining, the classy experience of Pegler came to fruition and ably supported by Proudley, found the boundary regularly and rotated the strike to creep us towards the finishing line.

It wasn’t until Pegler pulled Godden for six where the nerves finally eased on in the pavilion as requiring only 3 to win, Pegler and Proudley saw us home to a two wicket win and an all-important opening day victory.

Perhaps closer than it should have been, a win all the less as we travel to Hartley Wintney this coming Saturday looking to carry on our good start.