Tomorrow is the day.  Tomorrow is the day everyone has been waiting for.  Cricket back at Loperwood Park.  Fantastic!  Yes, there will be lots to consider both on and off the pitch but they are all manageable and to have our game being played is great to see.  So, enjoy it – but please do read the guidance and rules that the club have had to put into place to make sure we can continue to do so.  In the meantime, let’s have a look at events of the past today on 10th July.

With five wins on the bounce in SPCL Division 3 in 2010 – mostly down to Michael Wallace’s reinvention at the top of the order – the defeat seven days previously at Old Tauntonians and Romsey was a big hit to our promotion ambitions.  To suffer a second one, this time away at Sparsholt, was much more significant.  Skipper Darren Vann won the toss and chose to bowl first and would have been pleased with Paul Proudley’s 4-39 at the top which included Thomas Viljoen for a run-a-ball 43 and the 18-year-old Steve Wright for 1.  At 85-5, we were in the box seat but David Gough’s 28 and Jonathan Vokes’ 26 eased the pressure and they would progress to 160 all out in 35 overs with Wallace returning 3-39 and James Rose 2-15.  Although losing Mark Archer early, we moved to 43-1.  That was pretty much as good as it got when Paul Cass went for 17 and the rest followed, struggling to keep the Melburnian company at the top.  He was removed for 53 at 104-7 and we meekly surrendered to 126 all out, Michael Doubell finishing with 4-34.

Otherwise, it was a good day for the club with wins for the 2s and 3s.  At Loperwood, the 2s thrashed Langley Manor 2s in Regional One South by 8 wickets as Mark Gardner’s 4-34 and Paul Henry taking 3-35 crashed through the visitors for 151 in 38.5 overs, although Gardner’s runs conceded did include 12 wides!  We did lose the Tuesday night bullies Tom Perry (11) and Luke Gould (14) but Steve Dunn’s unbeaten 71 alongside captain Dave Brandes with a forthright 34-ball 42 not out took us to the comfortable victory with little alarm.

And Adam Hargreaves’ 3s returned from Milford-on-Sea 2s in Regional 3 South-West with a fine five wicket win although the game could have been wrapped up a lot sooner but for a 47-run tenth wicket which held things up.  Allan Provins’ early burst of 4-36 alongside Paul Galbraith taking 3-12 rushed the hosts to 50-6 before they battled back to finally post 157 all out – the captain finishing with 2-61.  All-rounder ‘Goat’ then hit 55 opening the batting and provided the stability which allowed all around him to make small scores but valuable ones as we won by five wickets in only 27.4 overs.

Five times in Calmore Sports 1st XI league history has our batting innings contained six ‘ducks’.  On four of those occasions, we were bowled out for 65, 77, 74 and …. ummm …. 31!  But there is one left out and it’s this one.  We wouldn’t even be bowled out.  It is SPCL Division 2 in 2004 and a home game with Gosport Borough and having gotten our act together after kicking off the season with four defeats in the first five, we had bounced back with two massive wins over Lymington and Easton & Martyr Worthy by 151 runs and 173 runs respectively.  The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first and they would bat through for 181-8 which was a recovery from 82-5 and 124-7 as Richard Edwards (32*) and Mark Oxford (20) trickled the score up after Charlie Freeston (2-30), Paul Cass (2-32) and Steve Brandes (2-24) had set the tone with the ball.  Our reply was a horror show.  Freeston bowled for 0, Simon Ennew run out for 0 and then Gareth Freeman had a field day, removing Gary Stinson, James Rose, Paul Hurst and Darren Challis all for 0 as we lost four for 3 to leave us on the brink of a heavy loss at 58-9.  The only batsmen left were Paul Cass and Steve Brandes, still needing 105 to win as the target had been reduced to 163 by the weather.  It needed a Ben Stokes-Jack Leach moment …….

“This is one of the highlights of my career.”  Here’s Steve.  “We were nine down with over 100 still needed but nothing is a lost cause and I told Cassy I could stay with him.  He obviously didn’t have much confidence in me as he started throwing the bat and hit a few quick boundaries.  I told him that we were back in it and he calmed down.  We had got to about 20 short when he had a rush of blood and hit one up in the air but their keeper Pete Robson dropped it.  The amount needed was coming down but we were running out of overs.  We got it down to needing two off the last ball. Luckily Cassy faced it and sliced it down to third man.  We ran the two – it was a great moment.”

A tenth wicket stand of 105 unbroken, a record that still stands today and surpassed the previous record of 50 in 1990 and victory by one wicket.  “It was a great knock from Cassy,” concluded Steve.  “I was fifty at the time, by the way – my age, not the runs I scored!”.  Paul finished 70 not out and Steve 16.  “It took me a while to recover but a few celebratory beers helped.”

With everyone getting ready for the brave new world of the Southern Premier League starting in 2000, it was important to finish in the top ten of the Southern League in 1999 to hopefully qualify, with ground accreditation requirements withstanding, to be in the top flight.  We needed this win over Portsmouth down on the seafront as it was the meat in a rotten sandwich of one win in four.  Choosing to bat first, we made good progress in reaching 165-3 with Paul Draper’s 67 the backbone which allowed Nick Holland (20), Tom Pegler (34) and Martin Kellaway (27) to push on.  Pete Clark’s unbeaten 28 took the score past 200 as we closed at 203-9 with Peter Hayward (4-57) and Paul Dew (3-58) the pick of the bowlers.  Portsmouth put 73 on for the first wicket before Geoff Pike became Lee Savident first of three dismissals (3-30) and we would make regular inroads into their batting line up despite Dew’s 60.  Three run outs closed the innings, all out for 173.

Back at home, it was turning out to be a good day for the Walton’s.  In the 2s match against Paultons 1s in County Two and the visitors’ decision to bat first looked to be a foolish one once Roy Walton had steamed down the hill to take 5-18 and Sean Eckton 2-20 left them 23-7.  Paul Wilde’s 11 kept Steve Mitchell company for a while as he pulled up a rearguard 46 not out before Steve Brandes’ 3-9 wrapped up the innings for 91.  We took our time, 34 overs, mainly because of Mitchell’s figures of 12-8-5-1, and were five down as Tim Lumsden’s 25 top scored and Clive Surry made 21 but we would get home by five wickets.

And in the 4s game at home to Paultons 3s went down to the wire.  Paultons made 117-8 in their 40 overs as Adrian Goddard took 4-30 and G. Mitchell 3-20.  Paul Bowring led the reply with 34 but when he went at 65-5, we were looking in danger of succumbing to defeat.  Martin Donovan ensured we would cling on with three sixes in his 33 not out and he found a willing helper in number 11 Terry Walton (6*), adding an unbroken 15 for the tenth wicket to clamber home by one wicket.  Goodnight John-Boy!

In County One in 1982, we were at home to Hayling Island and a rare thing happened – a half-century was recorded.  This was the 14th home first XI game at our new headquarters and it was just the third 50+ score – the first was by Paul Winsor of Portsmouth & Southsea in the final County One game of 1981, Martin Newman hit 82 against Old Simmarians earlier in 1982 and then came the third – by Ray Hurst on the way to a 103-run victory.  Bob Wilcocks hit 37 and Terry Chilcott 32 but it was a forceful 69 not out with three fours and three sixes from Ray that drove us to 201-8.  Steve Brandes’ 9-6-9-2 at the top of the reply helped sink them to 56-8 as Hurst (2-22) and especially Billy Sims’ 5-44 held the visitors to just 98 all out.

However, one of the earliest half-centuries ever scored at Loperwood Park came in a third XI game.  It was the New Forest Stone Cup semi-final against Hyde in 1981 and we would book our place in the Final with a comfortable seven wicket win and the rare half-century maker – Colin Stuttard.  Hyde batted first and, courtesy of four run outs and a disciplined bowling display only reached 77-7 in their 19 overs.  Brothers Frank and Colin opened up but it was Colin’s unbeaten 52 – hitting the only boundaries scored in our reply, three fours and a six – would take us to our target of 80-3 and a place in the final.

Our earliest league encounter came in County Two in 1976 against a club who used to play their home games at the much-missed County Ground at Northlands Road in Southampton, Deanery, so them coming to KGV would have been a bit of a culture shock.  We were due to play them at the County Ground in 1975 but it was rained off so this was our first ever league meeting and we would triumph by 27 runs.  Stan Piper’s 43, skipper Terry Chilcott with 33 and Jimmy Gill’s late on 40 took us up to 179-8.  Roger Goodridge’s 61 was the staple of the reply but steady bowling from Ray Hurst (2-22) and Ben Lyon (2-44) restricted the vaunted visitors to 152-7.

We are just going to have finish with this one because it is another example of just how brilliant cricket in the early 1980s was!  This was a New Forest Division Two game and a very short trip to picturesque Bartley in 1982 for Maurice Geary’s 3rd XI.  We batted first and batted through the full 40 overs.  Keith Bell hit 23 with two fours and two sixes and J. Olsen 13 not out at number 10.  As was the way back then, only two bowlers were used and they threw down 19 maidens out of the 40 overs – Dibben returning figures of 20-13-16-3 and Brown 20-6-49-6 as we closed our innings at 70-9 – a mammoth 1.75 runs per over!  Bartley were then reduced to 11-7 with Steve Lock and Derek Mattey doing the damage.  They did recover a little but were still bowled out for 54 with Lock 16-8-21-5 and Mattey 15.5-6-25-5 pulling off a miraculous 16 run victory in a game where 46% of the overs bowled went scoreless!  Love 80s cricket!!