Two games into the season – how are the limbs?  Don’t worry, those aches and pains are all part of the game and having waited so long to get going again, those twinges are just a reminder of what you have missed.  Treat them like a badge of honour!  Well done and thank you to everyone who took part, watched and made it all possible at the weekend.  Those two matches have been put into the database – so they may well feature should we ever have to regurgitate these editions again!  Which brings us to events on 13th July and we will actually start with 2014.

It has been mentioned a few times over the course of these editions about our poor record in the Southern Premier League T20 competition since we returned to the fold in 2010.  We had not made it out of Round 1 in five seasons but, for the first time, the league had decided to introduce a Plate for all of those first round losers – so we had at least a second game to look forward to!

We were placed in Group C of the Plate competition and we were given the honour of hosting the day, something we do particularly well with the bar, BBQ, music and fun all around.  There would be two games in the day as the draw pitted us against Portsmouth and Southsea with the winners taking on Totton and Eling, who had lost their T20 Cup round one game with Lymington a few weeks previously.

Things didn’t start that well for the visitors as they had forgotten to pick up their scorer en-route to the ground so there was a father and son duo in the box – my Dad, Victor and myself, both wanting the same side to win … that doesn’t happen very often!  The Division 3 side won the toss and with the early start, decided to bowl first.  Skipper Darren Vann, absolutely desperate to break his T20 captaincy winning duck, would make an exciting start with 48 in 29 balls – our second highest T20 individual score at the time after his own 65 against T&E in 2011.  Ben Johns made 39 from 26 and there was a late barrage from Paul Proudley who cracked 29 from 15 balls with three sixes before he was run out off the last ball with the score at 167-6, our record high score until we beat it by one last year against Hythe and Dibden.  Ben Perry set the tone dismissing Carew in the first over and they succumbed meekly for 116 with the spinner taking 4-41 and two wickets each for Croft, West and Proudley.

So we actually managed to win a game!  Darren’s duck was no more.  But, we wouldn’t see the day through … as a 19-year-old future Big Bash player from South Australia would put car insurance companies on notice!  You can take absolutely nothing away from Cameron Valente, who had just a few months previously played in the ICC Under 19 World Cup in Dubai and been a part of the Australia side that lost by one wicket to a Ben Duckett-inspired England in the third place play off, an England side that all have now played first-class cricket.  Things were looking up when James Haggaty was dismissed for 8 by Daniel Croft after a tidy first over from Perry once again.  Azeem Hamid snicked behind off West and they were 45-2.  Enter Valente.  What followed was brutality at its very finest, clean hitting, timing, class.  The car park took a battering, especially off the unfortunate West who went for 58 in his four – our most expensive figures in a T20 game and Michael Cook’s one over gleaned 18.  One bowler that did emerge unscathed was James Rose who returned 2-15 in his four.  But it was the Adelaidian who was given a standing ovation as he walked off 99 not out from 48 balls with seven fours and eight sixes.  Even Callum Holloway hit a six in his 9 not out as they posted a mammoth 194-4.  To be fair to us, we did give it a good go with Lavelle’s 29 off 26 and Ben Johns 38 off 32 to the fore but Luke Mooney took 4-29 and Holloway 3-17 as our vaunted near neighbours would win by 47 runs.  All in all, it was a fantastic day of cricket at Loperwood, we did record a win, the packed crowd, as seen in the picture, had a great day and were royally entertained in the sunshine.

Time to fast forward to just twelve months ago, not that we will hang around long here as we welcomed Rowledge to Loperwood Park in SPCL Division One and it wouldn’t be a day to remember.  The visitors elected to bat first and a decent spell of bowling would see them slip to 113-5 but opening batsman Sam Plater found a willing allay in Ollie Baker and they would go to town on our fifth bowler of Reilly-McNeil, Perry and Manning who bowled 10 overs for 89 combined.  Plater would carry his bat for 121 and Baker 44 not out as they would post 221-5.  Mike West got 19 and Manning 11 as our only double figure contributors as we would be bowled out for 98, Joe Randall taking 4-22.

Was this the day that two players in Calmore history became household names?  The 2s were at United Services Portsmouth in County 3 South – a far, far cry from previous mentions of this great club who were a staple of the Southern League and here were our 2s playing on a ground used by Hampshire for many years from 1882 to 2000 – the great Rahul Dravid making 137 facing Shane Warne in the final first-class game played on the United Services Ground between Hampshire and Kent.  19 years later and it would be another spinner who would hold court with bat and ball as well as two outstanding performances, one with bat and one with ball.  Paul Lock, who had already hit a century for the 4s, batted superbly in making 87 in 137 balls.  With Adam Carty (40), they would add 95 before Lock was joined by James Rose who clubbed a sublime 86 from 69 balls as they put together 146.  Lock was run out for 87 as we made 256-5.  And making his debut was the player with the longest name the club has ever had – Yannick de Mezieres Lepervanche who bowled with good pace and took 3-22 in his nine overs while Rose would grab 3-44 in 4.4 overs, not quite Warnesque but, hey, who’s counting – Warne took four wickets and Rose three.  It’s close enough!

We will mention the 3s game away at Winterbourne which we lost by six wickets in Regional 1 North-West.  Mike Cotton hit 38 in our 84 all out before Paul Henry, jettisoned to the thirds, rolled eight overs and took 4-14 but they would knock off the runs without too much alarm.

Here comes another game that we will pass over fairly quickly, the 2013 trip to Basingstoke and North Hants in SPCL Division 2 that would see us downed by 146 runs.  The home side made 260-7 with Mark Lavelle’s 3-34 the pick.  Darren Vann did club 61 from 56 balls and was third out at 81 in the 15th over – he didn’t mess about!  But we would last just 31 overs and be bowled out for 114 with David Pistorius claiming 6-21.

Meanwhile the 2s were at home to Portsmouth and Southsea 2s in County 3 South and we would win by 25 runs.  We batted first and our innings of 208-9 saw knocks from all eleven players, scores ranging from 5 and 6 up to George Woodhall’s 37 and Tom Perry with 29.  The visitors were held to 183-7 with Paul Henry taking 2-20 in 10 and Luke Johnson 2-47.

The 3s were at home to Old Hambledonians in Regional 2 South and would get past the nine-man visitors by just two wickets.  Allan Provins took 4-25 and Paul Galbraith 3-20 as they were bowled out for 141 and we made quite hard work of the chase after Dean Lavelle had made 22 and Matt Taylor 37 at the top of the order.  21 from Nigel Hill and 24 from Galbraith would take us close but it needed a couple of scampered singles to get us over the line.

We won one Time game in 2002.  It was a good job that Burridge were worse than we were this season, although they did beat us in the only game we played against them otherwise our removal from SPCL’s top flight would have come a year sooner.  This game and this win over Andover was our only victory in 11 games and was a much needed one.  It was probably more of a surprise at the margin of it – 139 runs.  Mark Boston hit 35 before Tom Pegler patiently made 79 from 147 balls.  Stuart Bailey made 23, John Wall 15 and James Hayward 16 which took us to 225 all out despite Gareth Tate’s 5-41.  A brilliant spell from Christoph Bothma tore through the Andover top order containing both Miller brothers and Toby Radford on his way to 5-33 and then Boston (2-4) and a wicket each for James Hibberd and Matthew Metcalfe would rush the visitors out for just 86.  And we would win a time game!  Mercy me!

Guess what the result was in our 1996 trip to Havant Park?  Given our very poor record against the multiple time Southern League champions, it will come as no surprise that we didn’t win and didn’t even get close, going down by 107 runs.  Andy Perry hit 84, Paul Gover 58 not out and Luke Sears 27 as the home side amassed 230-4 with Chris Garrett taking 2-67 and a wicket each for Graeme Lyon and John Shepherd.  Four of our batsmen made 20 plus scores in reply – Paul Draper 22, captain Rob Budd 25, John Shepherd 20 and Garrett the best of the lot with 32 but we would be shot out for 123 in 35.2 overs with Gary Shotton taking 3-36 and Matt Cox 3-20.

There were some fascinating games in 1985, close finishes and games that could have been close finishes if they had actually finished!  One of those was at Compton and Shawford in County One with the 1s.  Billy Sims made 50 and Bob Wilcocks 60 in a 72-run opening stand as we made 194-9 with Nick Holland (26) and Jimmy Gill (30*) ramping up the total.  When play was abandoned, the home side were 109-2 after 25 overs, needing another 85 to win in 17 overs.  We would never discover how it would turn out!

It seems that the regulations were different in South West One though as the 2s would win by 2 runs on the countback of the score at the equivalent last completed over in their home game with Worthies Sports.  Not quite sure who dreamed up that scenario as it didn’t seem overly fair, this being pre-Duckworth/Lewis of course.  John Ennew made 51 before he retired hurt and Richard Rogers crashed 69 not out as we totalled 198-3 in our 42 overs.  Worthies, from north of Winchester, were 77-6 after 23 overs with Derek Mattey and Pete Tudberry taking a couple of wickets each when the late afternoon rains came and we were just ahead … just!

The 3s were at Wellow and Plaitford 2s and the rains didn’t get there in time to stop this game from reaching its conclusion, a win by 7 runs.  Stan Piper batted through our 40 overs for 55 not out as we made 122-6 which proved to just be too much for the hosts who were bowled out for 115 thanks to Adrian Goddard’s 3-49 and a superb 5-29 from Maurice Geary.

Today’s closer is a simple one.  We normal have a little look at 1974 and our first league season on a Monday but our scheduled game at Romsey didn’t get off the ground, washed out.

1998 – Will Reilly-McNeil

It was lovely to hear some great comments from many of the readers of these editions over the weekend and how much you enjoy them.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to take a little break at some point soon with my working cricket season about to start with the 2nd Test at Old Trafford against West Indies – although I am doing it from home.  I will endeavour to carry on doing them, but if there are some gaps, you will know why.  It is my hope to produce a book of these at the end of the season for posterity – for your amusement to look back at this most bizarre of seasons and remember all that went before!