Pinch and a punch, first of the month!  Welcome to July.  Could this be the month that we some cricket – if it brightens up again!!  But as every gardener and groundsman says, always need a bit of rain.  So, as we head into another month of waiting for cricket, and county cricket is just a month away and Test cricket eight days ahead, we will continue to look back on events of the past.  And today is 1st July.

We start with a result which could have blown our 2017 season firmly off course.  Having gone through May and June with seven wins from eight, we would complete the first half of the SPCL Division One season with a trip to St. Helens where the home side Portsmouth would edge home by just two wickets in a low scoring tussle which would dent our momentum but as skipper Mark Lavelle commented, “it was just a bump in the road”.

Choosing to bat first, we compensated the early loss of Michael Cook when Ben Perry (23) and Ben Johns (49) put on 65 for the second wicket.  Jack Rutter added 22 and we were in relative comfort at 108-4.  “We knew about 150 was a good score at Portsmouth, they were having some troubles with their wicket that season as it went from wet to dry very quickly that summer.”

Those troubles were proven as we crashed from that position to just 121 all out.  “We went for the bat and squeeze method as always but just fell away losing our last six wickets very cheaply as the wicket started to deteriorate.”  Hampshire all-rounder Fraser Hay took 3-18 and Reuben McArdle 3-34 while Andrew Marston’s 10-5-14-2 is deserving of mention too.

Portsmouth got off to a flyer, seeing 42 on the board without loss.  The introduction of Lavelle and Mike West changed things as both picked up a couple of wickets which turned 42-0 to 49-4.  “Defending 120, we knew we needed wickets.  We got a couple each but they started to dead bat both of us and Rosey and Rutts too.”  West finished with 10-6-8-2, Lavelle 10-4-15-2 as wickets continued to tumble, two of which went to Rutter (2-22).  A superb run out from West removed Bains and Liam Newton returned.  “Newts gave us a couple of hostile overs at the back end which got rid of their captain Richard Locke,who had played well and got good support.”

It came down to the last over and Newton was entrusted with it.  “It could have gone either way but sadly, Rutts had a rush of blood and went for the direct hit run out which was well wayward and allowed them through to seal with win.  Gutting!”  We had lost by two wickets with three balls to play.  “We had to lose sometime,” concludes the skipper, “so it wasn’t too much of a big deal but it was just disappointing to get close.”

With the 1s having a narrow defeat, at least the 2s recorded a win over Portsmouth 2s but this was as close.  Our 217-5 was built on a solid batting display, started by Tom Perry’s 25 and George Woodhall with 23.  Callum Holloway made 31 and added 75 with Ollie Tull, who then posted a stand of 72 with Dave Blake.  Tull remained undefeated on 54 while Blake went off the last ball for a 36-ball 50.  Portsmouth’s innings was much the same with contributions throughout, Mitchell leading the way with 58 but the bowlers were keeping a close eye on things, especially the ever reliable Paul Henry (2-31).  It came down to the last over but the visitors fell just four runs short to give us a crucial win.

While those two games were close, the 3s match in Regional 2 North-West against eight-man Riverside absolutely wasn’t – but fair play to them to coming.  Callum Stanton and Nigel Hill both hit 41s, Darryl McMahon 24 and Calum Bailey 21 down the order as we totaled 151 all out in just 28.1 overs.  Riverside were bowled out in only 12.1 overs … for 19!  Tom Pattison ripped through them 5-15 and Sam Vidler bowled 6.1 overs and claimed 2-3.

After being BAT Sports Second XI in SPCL Division Three in 2006 three weeks previously to break our season duck, hopes were high to go on a winning run.  Since then, we lost to Paultons by 123 runs then Hambledon by 165 runs.  It surely couldn’t get any worse in this home game with US Portsmouth …. it did!  When Dominic Carson was bowled by Paul Proudley first ball, there was a spark of belief … but has there ever been a bigger false dawn?  At 95-3 after Keith Woodhall had grabbed a couple of wickets, in came Zimbabwean international Charles Coventry, who had already made his Test debut and went on to 39 ODIs and 13 T20 internationals.  The 65 balls he would face would bring him a sensational 125 and with Dave Henderson (54) put together 162 for the fourth wicket.  They would go on to make 325-8.  Steve Brandes would take a couple of wickets but it would cost him 84.  We did make a good start with 76 before Simon Ennew went for 33 and skipper Jamie Winters batted well for his 65 but we were never likely to chase it down and were bowled out for 156 to lose by 169 runs – leaving Calmore’s oldest ever debutant, at 52, stranded without facing a ball on 0* … Jeff Tyler!

Meanwhile, the 2s were at Amport in County 3 and suffered a six wicket loss despite scoring 213 batting first.  Dave Brandes hit 52 and Gary Stinson 39 as they opened with 69 before the mantle passed to Steve Dunn (33) and Mike Cotton (52) to move us towards our decent enough total although Southwell did take 7-50 for the home side.  Amport went into blitz mode with Garman smashing 77 not out in 53 balls as they cantered to the win in 34.2 overs with Luke Johnson taking 2-58 but Kierin Richard, Brandes and Dan Green’s combined 4.2 overs went for 58!

Not long now folks, these time game references will pass!  And here is another which resulted in another heavy defeat, once again being down at BAT in 2000.  Allan Hurst removed Kenyan international Kennedy Otieno was removed early but Richard Kenway made 82 and there was efforts throughout to take them to 237 with Hurst taking 3-47 and James Hibberd 3-55.  Dan Goldstraw ripped out 4-36 – he took a total of 33 wickets in 11 SL/SPCL games against us, the most of any opposition bowler with four 4 wicket hauls – as we were bowled out for just 95.

We have not had a tied SL/SPCL game for 25 years but the last of those three occasions came today at Chapel Gate against Bournemouth in 1995.  A brilliant stand of 123 between Paul Draper (86) and Martin Kellaway (70) were the stand out in our more than acceptable 248-5.  Two early wickets for Graeme Lyon, removing the dangerous Elward and Price just allowed former Hampshire and Gloucestershire all rounder Richard Scott and skipper Stuart Rintoul to the crease and they would add 190 – then a third wicket record against us until it was broken in 2018 by Liphook and Ripsley pair Munt and Ganguly.  The game looked to be going away from us until Paul Draper bowled Rintoul and then did the same to Michael Scott and Coetzee in quick order.  The final over came, bowled by left-armer John Shepherd and with the last ball, Scott, then on 96, lofted the ball and was taken by Lyon to clinch the tie.

The 3s were at Woodgreen in Regional 3 West and would tuck a nice 79-run victory on their pocket – plus a few bits of freshly baked cake as well, I would think!!  Trevor Hooker with 42 and Paul Grinham an unbeaten 44 plus 20+ scores from all of the top five were key to our reaching 199-6.  The home side were blown away by Roy Walton who took 4-30 and Graham Phelps’ tidy 3-28 as they were bowled out for 120.  And the 4s went down at home to Bramshaw 2s by 38 runs.  Ray Hurst took 3-32 in their 143-5 and we would be bowled out for 105 with Loose taking 7-15 in his nine overs and a 16-year-old lanky ginger lad called West claiming 1-24.

Our charge towards the County One title in 1989, which took a hit with a couple of defeats at the start of June, was firmly back on the rails and continued with a commanding six wicket win at home to Cormorants.  A patient bowling display restricted the visitors to 158-7 as Cliff Estall (2-28) and Dominic Newman (2-44) were the pick and we knocked them off in 41.1 overs with skipper Rob Budd making 52 and Stuart Bailey 41 not out, winning by six wickets.

And we would be up against Cormorants once more in 1978 in County One, this time down at the King George V Ground and we would win this by 59 runs, a seventh win in eight and fifth in a row batting first.  Bob Wilcocks led the way with 63 and Jimmy Gill 33 helped us to post 175-5 before the bowlers, as ever, made their mark.  Tufty Taylor took 4-27, Terry Chilcott 2-41 and Ben Lyon wrapped up the innings with 2-4 as the Portsmouth-based visitors were removed for just 116.  It was a double celebration as the 2s travelled to Littleton in South West Two and won with ease by 63 runs.  Martin Newman’s hard hitting 93 and Frank Stuttard with 35 drove the score to 188-4 which was never on the radar for the home side once Steve Brandes took 2-31 in 14 overs – they closed on 125-5.

We close today’s edition with a second round clash in the Sydney Wyatt Knock-Out in 1970 and a local derby with Paultons.  The game itself isn’t really a classic but it would be a stepping stone towards reaching the final.  Paultons were held to 107-3 with Beecham scoring 39 with two sixes and no fours and a wicket each for Michael Newman, Ron Merritt and Ben Lyon.  We slipped to 3-2 in reply but an unbroken stand of 105 from John Bailey (47*) and Lyon (54*) would see us home with three balls to spare.

1991 – Michael Wallace
1969 – Paul Jewer