Cricket restart: T-minus 6.  Those six days cannot come quick enough – just to have cricket back on.  It will be different, of course, but to have some action back on our hallowed Loperwood Park turf is what everyone wants, boys and girls.  And maybe you will have had enough of me doing these!  For now, we will carry on and feature the events of 5th July.

We are actually going to start with a match in the NatWest Under 19 T20 competition of 2015 and the Cougars were at home to New Milton, looking to get their push back on track after a win and a defeat thus far.  We would make it two wins with this comprehensive seven wicket win over the 10-man visitors.  To win by that margin was particularly impressive given that they made 177 all out in their full 20 overs with skipper Toby Edwards standing out with 51 not out from just 20 balls including six sixes.  George Watts managed 32 as Kaine Stanton grabbed 3-41 and Callum Kitcher 4-34.  New Milton, who had Bradley Currie, now of Bashley (Rydal), in their ranks had little answer to Ben Johns’ retired 51 and Lewis Allen’s retired 50 off 26 balls as Matt Taylor’s side reached their target with four balls to spare.

Was this game in 1981 or 2014?  Surprisingly, it was the latter but the scores in this SPCL Division 2 clash with Portsmouth had all the marks of the first year at Loperwood about them!  Darren Vann won the toss and put the City side in and his bowlers would step up to their task, especially Matt Maiden with returned figures of 10-4-17-4 as he would slice through their top order.  Two wickets for Paul Proudley (2-13) and a couple late on for James Rose (2-5) would cut the visitors down for just 84 in 35.5 overs as opener James Mitchell and Jed Whitecross top scored with 13.  But if we thought we were going to have it easy in the chase, we were sorely mistaken as we crashed to 49-5 with four of our top five scoring between 7 and 9 (not you Lav!).  It needed a patient, steady response.  We got it from Ben Perry, who made 10 from 40 balls but Paul Proudley didn’t get that particular memo as he hit four fours in a 25-ball 20.  It was needed as they added a crucial 28 to take us to the brink as we would win by three wickets.  169 runs for 17 wickets in 70.4 overs!

We were not able to complete the double over the East Hampshire club as their 2s won the County 3 South game at St. Helens by 55 runs in a game that HCB Cricket Development Manager Simon Jones will remember well.  Opening the batting, he would hit 84 which would anchor their innings and guide them to 201 all out with support from Arjun Patel (25).  Dave Blake took 3-26 which helped slow the scoring rate while Tom Pattison (2-32) and George Woodhall (2-48) also joined in.  Our response did get off to an interesting start with a 16-ball opening over and extras would top score with 34 as that was as good as things got with George’s 27 lead the way with the bat as James Scott (4-29) and Jones (4-17) would usher us out for 146.

He did it before and he’s here to do it again in this Regional 2 West game down at the Old Ground against our 3s.  Yes, Sam Dempster – you!  Playing for Nomansland, he would share in a 74 run opening stand with Darren Grayer (37) with Demps top scoring in their innings of 167 with 46 which included eight fours and a six.  Ryan Lomax bowled well for his 3-30 while Sam Vidler (2-37), Harry Morgan (2-27) and Liam Worrow (2-15) all played their part.  Our response was a disjointed affair with players getting starts but not going on – Ben McCartney (24) and Lomax (22) a case in point.  Morgan’s resisting unbeaten 36 did give us some hope but the game was up by then against Grayer (4-50) as they would seal the 23 run win.

There was a good news story though from the 4s trek to Shrewton 3s in Regional 4 North-West as our 10 men defeated the Wiltshire men’s nine by 86 runs thanks to a brilliant 109 from Callum Stanton.  Karl Williams added 25 and Nathan Crowe levelled up the numbers when he retired hurt on 34 as we cruised to 251-7 in our 42 overs, helped as well by 59 extras including 29 byes and 29 wides!  And as if the former AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper wasn’t talented enough behind the stumps as a good wicket-keeper, he would turn his arm over for 10 overs and take 3-24 and with Jack Thornely, a very good golfer, taking 4-12, the hosts would be bowled out for 165.

Pylewell Park have been regular opponents of Calmore Sports throughout our history, going all the way back to 1974 when their first XI would meet our 2s in New Forest Division 1 and the 3s would meet them in the Forest Leagues from 1982 to 1988.  But the one and only time our two first XIs would meet in league competition was in 2008 in County One and we would emerge winners by 98 runs.  50 for Steve Dunn from 118 balls and Mark Lavelle’s 39 were the backbone of our 168-9 in the game at Loperwood as Wayne Royan took 4-43 and Clive Kitcher 3-53.  The visitors never got off first base once Roy Walton completed outstanding figures of 11-7-16-2 but it was Nigel Hill that did the majority of the damage with 5-36 which would hurry Pylewell to just 70 all out.

Unfortunately, here comes another of those dreaded time games that we so enjoyed in our four years in the SPCL top flight.  It will come as no surprise to regular readers that wouldn’t win this one either, losing to Bashley (Rydal) by 75 runs at home in 2003.  Brad Thompson would help himself to a century (107) and Chris Sketchley (81) as the visitors declared at 284-4 with a wicket each for James Hibberd, Charlie Freeston, Pete Clark and James Rose.  Hampshire batsman Martin Bushell would hit 94 and received honorable backing from Hibberd (23) and skipper Tom Pegler (27) but we would not really get close at 209 all out as Kevin Nash (3-47) and Ben Nolan-Stone (3-32) cut through our defences.

When you bowl out the Havant side of 1997 with a top five of Andy Perry, West Indian Wilden Cornwall, Luke Sears, captain Paul Gover and Matt Compton for just 111 in 49.1 overs of the Southern League match at Loperwood Park, you would certainly walk off the field with a spring in your step.   All of them made double figures, none of them reached 20 as Paul Whitaker claimed the impressive figures of 15-8-15-4 and Paul Draper closed the innings with 2-3 in 5.1 overs.  The thing is, they aren’t just a side packed with batters – they have some bowlers too!  They did gift us 25 extras.  Cornwall, who would have a flourishing first-class career with Antigua and Leeward Islands, threw down eight wides and five no-balls.  But we could barely get bat on ball as six of our batsmen were bowled and four were removed lbw as Cornwall took 4-37 and his opening partner Matt Cox 5-18 in 13.4 overs.  Only Stuart Bailey held things up with 16 off 50 balls but we would be skittled for 67.  Havant would win the league that season, undefeated, 75 points clear and an average four points better than anyone else.

It was a wet weekend in 1986 with the home County One game with Longparish only reaching 32 overs in the visitors’ innings when they were 102-6 with David Barnes (3-27) and Richard Rogers (2-26) doing the hard yards but somewhat surprisingly the 3s game at the Old Ground in New Forest 2 with Ashurst survived with the visitors taking a 64-run win.

Barry Hewitt’s 58 and Clive Kemp with 57 not out were well supported by my old opening partner for Ashurst 2s, Barry Bastable (22) as they reached 188-5 with us trying nine bowlers to dislodge the obdurate Happy Cheesers.  Hewitt’s gentle medium pacers claimed 4-17 while Paul Knott took 2-41 as they would bowl us out for 124 despite Richard Bailey’s 37 and Gavin Hopgood 19.

The Sunday 2s had a game in 1981 against ISR Heating, a work based team from Eastleigh and they were left cold by a 145 run steaming thanks to Baz Oram’s roasting hot 120 which was the absolute standout in our 208-9.  Graham Cooper took 4-21 and Steve Thomas 3-13 as the Gas Engineers were extinguished for only 63 in 36 overs.

Our record against Portsmouth-based Cormorants was always quite hit and miss but this game in 1980 we would dominate with a 75-run victory in our final season at KGV.  Paul Hoskins hit 62 in our 136-9 as Billy Sims (14), Jimmy Gill (15) and Martin Newman (13) all offered support at the other end with Cleighton Rudder taking 5-63 in his full 21 over allocation.  Ray Hurst normally did that for us but he only bowled 16 this time out but his 2-14 with ten maidens set the tone which allowed Ron Merritt to tear through the lower order with 5-16 after Steve Brandes’ 2-12 as they were downed for just 61.

This game could have gone either way and that was only possible thanks to Roy Matthews’ efforts with both bat and ball.  The 2s were away at Salisbury Wanderers and were held to 109-9 in their 42 overs batting first which was a recovery from 74-8.  Matthews’ unbeaten 23 ensured we reached three figures after John Robertson (18) and Simon Lightfoot (16) had posted contributions earlier.  And he would then taken the new ball and return 11-6-9-4 and with Michael Newman (2-32) would give us a shot but the home side managed to scamper home by three wickets.

We mentioned this club just a couple of days ago in a game that lasted 15 balls with two players heading to hospital.  That game was in 1976.  This game against Liphook in 1975 would go down to the wire and the home side would reign by one wicket.  Was the 1976 game some kind of pay back?  Ben Lyon hit 60 and Paul Hoskins 36 as we would be bowled out for 153 with opening bowler Eric Simpson taking 7-74 in 19.2 overs.  Michael Newman took 3-35 to remove the top three and Roy Matthews and Terry Chilcott both took a couple of wickets to reduce the hosts to 99-7 and 129-9.  But that man Simpson was still there, having come in at number four.  With K. Green’s help of 4 not out would edge them to a one wicket victory, finishing on 81 not out in the thrilling win.

Today’s edition closer comes, again, from 1980 and this is a 3rd XI game away at Krakatoa 2s in New Forest Division 3.  We would lose this game by 80 runs with Roger Batten making 78 and Trevor Rooke 33 as the home side would reach 191-6 despite Keith Bell’s 4-60 in 17 overs.  A young Dave Ransley, opening the bowling, would take 4-38 which hamstrung our innings but there would be a wicket for a man who would become synonymous at the club in later years but would be quite a player previously – one John Ruppersbury.  John would become our groundsman in the 1990s but was a fearsome fast bowler in his day.  Sadly, he passed away nearly a year ago, his name lives on with all that came across him in New Forest and Calmore circles.  RIP Ruppers.