IT’S GAME DAY!!!!!  Yes, yes, it is actually GAME ….. DAY!  Cricket is back at 1pm today where Team Manning will be up against Team Lavelle in a 40-over inter-club game this afternoon.  Please do come along, bring your own chair and provisions – although the bar will be open so maybe not those provisions – make yourself comfortable and enjoy being outside in the sunshine watching cricket at Loperwood Park again for the first time in 315 days.  Please do read the club directions, rules and guidance page on the website so you are familiar with the changes in these strangest of times.  And you could have a read of this as well while you are doing so – it’s Saturday 11th July.

I think it is fair to say that Mark Lavelle’s reign as captain of the 1st XI in his first year of 2015 was not easy.  There was no real reason why, 10 of the 11 players that played in this game played in 2019 and will be available to play when league cricket, in whatever form, starts next week.  For those interested, the other was Luke Johnson.  This game, down at Bournemouth, was our fifth defeat in a row although we did give ourselves half a sniff of pulling off something of a surprise.  After winning the toss and batting first, were doing ok at 61-3 and even at 81-4 with Michael Cook on 22 and Mike West 11, there was a certain amount of moderate confidence especially with Dorset all-rounder Michael Kitson having bowled out with 3-42.  The Bournemouth overseas spinner, New Zealander Joshua Finnie put paid to that as he claimed 4-25 – all of them lbw as we succumbed to just 98 all out with Andrew Woodward, the former Derbyshire 2nd XI bowler and Bournemouth coach grabbing 3-14.  After tea – which one of the scorers didn’t get any of (ahem!!) – Paul Proudley (2-26) and Johnson (3-30) set about their task and they would reduce the hosts to 27-4 inside six overs.  Ben Bridgen (27) and Ryan Wiltshire (24*) would save any blushes as would Matthew Jones with 16 not out which concluded a four-wicket win.  Defeated but not deflated, we had a great evening out!

We were joined that evening by some of the 2s players who had played at home and been thrashed by Bournemouth’s neighbours, Parley, in County 3 South.  Parley made 249-6 in their 45 overs with Allan Hurst the pick with 2-26 in 10 overs.  We would be bowled out for 71 with the only entity reaching double figures was extras, which contributed 30 which was 42% of our batting effort – Mark Hardy top scored with 8.

The news from the 3s game was much better despite conceding 198 to Beaulieu at home in Regional 2 West.   Sam Vidler had reduced the visitors to 22-3 when he took 3-20 before a fine partnership of 129 between Banner and Wood (31) would get them back on track.  However, an inspired spell of bowling from Calum Bailey hauled them back as he claimed 5-29 and Nigel Hill an expensive 2-38.  But it was time for another Hill masterclass and he thrashed an unbeaten 90 to take us to a five wicket win with five overs to spare as Owen Fee (42) and Paul Galbraith (32) kept him company as Nigel flayed the Foresters.

We now have to go all the way back to 1999 to find the next action as all the matches in 2009 fell foul to the weather.  The game in 1999 was a Cross Solent League away at Purbrook and would end in a dramatic tie.  We lost both of our openers with just three runs on the board, Paul Henry run out for 0 and then Mark Boston for 1 – that would have been a fun conversation!  Pete Clark and Clive Surry took up the mantle and, with contributions through the innings, would see us to 178 all out.  Clark made 33 and captain Surry top scored with 60.  Purbrook made the perfect start with 95 before Clark came on and took 3-28.  Roy Walton returned to complete his eight overs with 1-16.  It came down to the last over and the last ball but the home side could only get a single and the game ended tied.

With our first defeat of the 1998 season against Hungerford defeat still ringing in our ears, we could have done with this next game at home to Romsey surviving the weather.  It lasted just 6.4 overs with us, having been unsurprisingly put in, reaching 12-1 – Paul Whitaker the man to go for 0.

And talking of that near miss 1998 season, another game that didn’t get going, again at Loperwood, was the Southern League game in 1992 against Waterlooville.  If only that had happened six years later!

More often than not, father and son are in the same side so it is a little rare to have father AGAINST son in County One in 1987 when Hursley Park headed to Loperwood.  Not that either Mike, playing for us, did much – he was bowled by Dave Fox for 2 although probably would have had his son chirping in his ear keeping wicket and Martin didn’t bat but did take one catch off Chris Mitchell to dismiss Bob Wilcocks for 10.  As we have mentioned previously, our record against the men from The Quarters was not the best and this would be a routine win for them by 8 wickets.  Rob Budd made 40 and Chris Garrett 30 as we edged to 146-8 with Mitchell claiming 5-79.  Phil Wright’s excellent 87 not out led the way helped by Clive Surry’s 40 before he was bowled by Paul Sealey.  It just delayed the finish a fraction.

He is mentioned often in these editions and he is much missed around the club but in the game away at Redlynch in South West One, he was at his sublime best.  The home side would be bowled out for 114 after Ray Hurst had gone wicketless in ten overs and they had reached 50-1 without much alarm.  That was before Billy Sims came on and would bowl 11 overs of destruction, taking 7-25 which hastened them to 114 all out.  We did lose four wickets chasing the target down but Gary Stinson’s 48 not out and Ben Lyon with 22 made sure we safely negotiated the tricky chase.

The 4s had an away game at Downton 2s in New Forest 4 and a good showing from Gavin Hopgood’s side would record a four wicket win.  Ian Bowring (2-32) and Steve Thomas (2-52) bowled well at the top before birthday boy Darren Challis cleaned up the tail with 4-14 to remove the Wiltshire outfit for 116.  The captain remained rock steady with 48 and Graeme Lyon, batting at number three, was run out for 23.  It almost seems strange to see this scorecard with Lyon at 3 and Paul Draper, who was only eight months his junior, at number 4!

The Green Jackets Ground in Winchester.  Home of St. Cross Cricket Club where Hampshire played a first class match in 1875 and lost to Sussex by an innings.  But it is also a ground that, since 1992 when the current St. Cross Symondians club was formed, we have attempted to play six times with a result only being achieved once – a win in 2010, with matches completely abandoned in 1994, 2004 and 2007 and rain ruined games in 2005 and 2012.  We will return there – hopefully – in the new look SPCL competition later this year.  But our two sides would meet in County One in 1981 and win by 27 runs.  Billy Sims with 44 and Terry Chilcott 68 would be the mainstays of our 183-6 and despite 48 from Postle and 58 for Thomas, Ray Hurst’s 3-51 and Ron Merritt 3-45 would hold them to just 156-8.

We had reached the final, once again, of the Hector Young Knock Out in 1978 after beating Netley Sports and All Saints (no, not the 90s pop group) in the previous rounds.  We would be up against St. George’s Guild at Hoglands Park and would reign supreme over Southampton Parks cricket again with an impressive 45 run victory.  It didn’t really look that way when we found ourselves 40-5 but a crunching unbeaten 45 from Ray Hurst dominated a stand with Martin Newman of 69, of which the latter made 13 not out.  Hurst and Michael Newman would bowl the 21 overs between then, as was customary in these competitions, with Michael taking 3-35 and Ray 0-29 but the Swaythling-based side didn’t get close at 64-5.

Today’s closer comes from exactly 50 years ago in 1970.  Bearley CC from near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire were on a New Forest tour and it is rather unknown whether this Saturday game was at the start or the end of their trip.  But looking at the scores, you fancy it might have been towards the end!  The visitors, who currently ply their trade in the Cotswold Hills League and play in Division Six, were placed in the field at the King George V Ground and watched Ben Lyon blitz 105 and Vic Sevier 34 before Lyon’s run out ushered the declaration at 203-6 after 36.4 overs, the visitors trying seven bowlers and one, H. Castle being thrashed for 28 runs in his sole over!  The tourists ‘bearley’ showed up as they were decimated for just 23 in 17 overs as Michael Newman took 7-13 and Keith Bell 3-9 in the rout.  One more night on the tiles … then home me thinks!

1982 – Gordon Pritchard
1970 – Darren Challis