Four days to go.  Test match at the Ageas Bowl starts tomorrow.  The long, long awaited start to the British cricket season.  Thank you West Indies for coming to our shores and playing some games, we will all be watching with great excitement to see our great game back.  It’s been a long wait.  And it was a long wait for the grounds to return to being playable after the 7th July storms of 2012.

The Olympic Games in London were just around the corner.  The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was on this weekend.  The rains absolutely thrashed down, causing flooding throughout the country, from north to south.  Spectators were turned away from the Northamptonshire circuit, for fear of getting stuck.  June, July and August in 2012 were the wettest on record since 1912, which brought the two year drought to a very abrupt end!  We would not play another game for two weeks – apart from the trip to Ventnor on the middle Sunday.  We had to get that game on!

It was due to have been the first ever league meeting between Calmore Sports and Langley Manor in SPCL Division 3 but the weather put paid to that.  The 2s were at home to Emsworth and the 3s and 4s were up against Bashley’s 4s and 5s.  No chance!  Nor the Sunday game or Tuesday’s Border League games or, as it turned out, the league programme for the following week.  It was that bad!

So let’s find some actual cricket to view and it comes from two years ago in 2018 and a day that very few will forget because cricket was played at the earliest time the club has ever seen to facilitate the watching of England’s eagerly anticipated World Cup quarter-final against Sweden, which kicked off at 3pm in Samara, Russia.  So we won’t actually start with a look at the first team game first up, let’s go to Mudeford with the 2s in County 3 South and the Southampton Sports Centre where the 3s were up against Parley 2s.  Which brings us to one of the great questions of Calmore history – who took the earliest wicket to fall?

The 3s game started at 8.30am and unsurprisingly when Sam Vidler won the toss, he put Parley into bat.  They lost a wicket early to a run out and had made their way to 15-1 when Paul Jewer bowled Powell for 11.  BUT … did that happen before, down at Mudeford, Jono Maton removed Patel caught by Paul Henry for 0 with his first ball at 9.01am.  Who had a watch on?  Who noted the time?  Or does anyone really care as we just had to get the game done before the big game started!!

In the 2s game, the home side were bowled out for 120 as Maton claimed 3-25 and Storm Anning 4-30.  A quick turn around with no tea, or would that have been brunch, and we would knock off the runs in 31 overs thanks to James Rose’s 50 and Ollie Tull with 27 not out brought us a four wicket victory while special mention goes to Allan Hurst, who was dismissed for 0 early on but did manage to find a chippy to feed the lads in lieu of not having a sarnie or two!

Meanwhile at the Sports Centre, the 3s were bowling out the 10-men of Parley for 122 with skipper Vidler taking 3-22 and Darryl McMahon 2-13.  They wasted no time in chasing them down, doing so in 19.4 overs as Jewer made 30 and Matt Ellerby, who was obviously very keen for a ‘big day’ blasting 44 not out with seven fours and two sixes as we cruised home by four wickets.  Games done … let’s get back to the club for the match!

The 1sts game at home to Ventnor wasn’t able to start that early but there was an elongated ‘tea’ interval so everyone could watch England win the game 2-0 thanks to Harry Maguire’s first half strike and Dele Alli goal on the hour which put them into the first World Cup semi-final since Italia ’90 when we lost on penalties (of course) to West Germany.  But the cricket at Loperwood Park that day would be a strange one!

We won the toss and chose to bat first and would reach 261-6 in our 50 overs with Jimmy Manning smashing a run-a-ball 70, Mark Lavelle 47 and Sam Moss an unbeaten 41 which took us to our highest total of the second and our only score of over 200 at Loperwood in 2018.  After a rousing rendition of ‘It’s Coming Home, It’s Coming Home’ after the thrilling England win, Ventnor would have believed that the win was indeed coming home with them as Tom Friend and Harry Dye put on 146 for the first wicket.  Mike West removed Friend for 80 and then knocked over Worcestershire professional and Ventnor captain Chris Russell on his way to 4-27.  The reigns were then passed to Dominic Ducellier who, as our seventh bowler, would crash through the Islanders with 5-17.  No other batsman, bar Friend and Dye, who was sixth out for 77, made double figures as 146-0 became 217 all out to give us a 44 run win.

Three wins in the club, an England semi-final place – Loperwood Park was the place to be that night!

Next up is 2015 and the semi-final of the Border League Plate as Darryl McMahon’s ‘B’ team travelled to Southern Gardens to take on Totton and Eling.  They would turn in a stunning performance to win by 7 wickets and book their place against Mottisfont in three weeks time.  T&E’s innings centered around Tom Beresford’s 33* and Simon Ennew with 39 but they wouldn’t really recover from Storm Anning’s early burst which would see him close with figures of 4-1-8-2.  Callum Kitcher (3-22) bowled well at the end to restrict the hosts to 112-6.  Our reply got off to a flyer thanks to Lee Willis, who had joined the club to play midweek games whilst working in the area but normally played in Nottinghamshire.  He blasted 23 to get us going and with Ben Perry (41*) and Jack Nicholson (29) would see us into the Final with an over to spare.

We had won four games in a row in and around the rain spoiled Saturdays but that run would come to an end with this disappointing 83 run loss at Fareham and Crofton in County One in 2007.  The home side batted first and made their way comfortably to 248-9 with David Staniforth hitting 73 and Kevin Light 42.  Our bowlers toiled although Nigel Hill’s 1-38 from 12 overs stood out as did Pete Clark’s 3-51 and Mark Lavelle’s 3-58.  We made our way to 42-0 in reply.  That reply then became 80-8 as the home bowlers swathed through the batting line-up.  A 74-run ninth wicket partnership – the second time in this season we had recorded large stands for the 9th wicket, second behind the club record 85 against Lymington 2s – between Mark Lavelle (33*) and Roy Walton (40) did brighten the day a little but not much.

Oh no, it’s another time game and this time it is away at South Wilts in 2001.  OK, let’s see what tale of disaster this one holds.  Hey, hang on, we won this – which was our second time game win in three.  And this was achieved in no small part of our latest Melburnian from Brunswick, Glen Motchall.  Tom Pegler won the toss for Calmore and we were cut down by three quick scalps for former Loperwood favourite Chris Steedon (3-51) who had opened the bowling with Hampshire’s James Tomlinson (2-33 in 19 overs).  However, a steady 34 from Jeremy Goode and 24 for James Hibberd added 50 before we slid to 120-8 and in danger of being bowled out with a sub par score.  Motchall cracked 44 and with Mark Boston, batting at 10, making 31 lifted us to 180 all out with Rob Wade (2-19) and Tom Caines (3-35) claiming the later wickets.  Both Wade and captain Russell Rowe were dismissed without scoring as the home side tottered to 3-3 and 39-6 as Motchall (4-29) and Hibberd (2-20) raged into the South Wilts batting order with only Brendan Pauwells’ 29 resisting.  A late stand from Tomlinson (15*) and Steedon (20) was little reward as Paul Draper (3-16) closed the innings at just 94 to give us an 86 run win.

We head back to our first Southern League year next in 1990 and, after a couple of defeats, we headed down to Gosport Borough on this particular Saturday and would return with a much needed win, and a big one too, by 102 runs and the captain was instrumental in it too.  We were put into bat and 49 from Rob Budd and an unbeaten 61 for Stuart Bailey resisted the Gosport attack with something of a nemesis to us, tall quick bowler Paul Jenkins taking 5-61 – he would claim 25 wickets in nine games against us for the Borough and Burridge.  Ray Porter weighed in with 4-58.  But the home side would have no answer to Steve Brandes that day.  After Kevin Emery, Chris Garrett and Kevin Marshall had taken a wicket each, Brandes rolled 13 overs out and took 6-15 to rip through the hosts for just 94 in 41.5 overs and give us a much needed and wanted victory.

In 1984, the 3s were in New Forest Two action away at North Baddesley, a ground which is now a play park right next to the A27.  Back then though, it saw a tense contest that we would take by only four runs.  Frank Stuttard’s 46 anchored the innings which was only 110 all out as Baddesley, as was the way back then, used only two bowlers, Spencer (5-46) and Southgate (5-56).  At 52-6, their reply looked to be going nowhere but Archer and Revie added 48 for the seventh wicket leaving them needing 11.  Opener Archer was crucial but his 113 ball 49 wasn’t enough to take them to victory as Richard Bailey bowled 13 overs and took 6-17.

This edition’s closer – and there is more today as you will see – is a real classic.  Last Tuesday, you may remember, Calmore Sports played Old Tauntonians in the Final of the Hector Young Trophy in 1969 at Hoglands Park.  The game ended as a tie so, as was the way back then, a replay was needed to declare the winner – none of this least wickets or Super Overs 51 years ago!  J. Appleton made 25 made the bulk of the opening stand of 35 with Stan Piper.  Reg Oliver was run out for 31 and Ben Lyon upped the rate with 13 while Piper batted through the 21 over innings … for 18 not out!  As normal, just two bowlers were needed – Binks 2-48 and Bryant 2-42.  Former Hampshire batsman Derek Tulk was removed lbw for 10 but a stand of 41 for the sixth wicket looked to be taking the game away with B. Baker (16) and P. Muddiman (26) lifting the innings from 46-5.  It came down to Michael Newman’s last over and three to win off the last ball.  OTs managed just one – to give us a one-run victory and the trophy!

Today’s last paragraphs is an apology.  I need to throw out that apology, in particular, to Sam Dempster for, in yesterday’s edition, I inexplicably left out reference to matches played on 6 July 2019.  So here is a run down of the events that I missed ….

The 1st XI were absolutely smashed by Hook and Newnham by 156 runs having conceded 286-9 despite Ben Perry’s fighting 3-35 in amongst the melee.  Ben Johns top scored with 39 opening the batting and Steve Wright was the second highest with 26 as we were bowled out for 130.

It was better news back home in County 3 South as Langley Manor 2s were beaten by four wickets.  The visitors were bowled out for 178 thanks to Max Bailey’s 4-38 and James Rose taking 3-37.  A superb 68 from Ryan Lomax backed the innings and he took us to the brink of victory, a victory that was secured by Liam Newton’s unbeaten 39.

However, it is this game, down at the Old Ground that stands out as we actually lost it to Great Durnford by one wicket and 16 balls to spare thanks to J. Ambrose’s 123 for the visitors that contained 12 fours and seven sixes.  However, you don’t lose many games when the opening pair have put on 217 for the first wicket and one of them scores an outstanding 143 with 15 fours and six sixes.  It happened through, not that Sam Dempster will mind too much as his innings will go down in Calmore history – it was the fifth highest score by any batsman at the club in the last decade behind Callum Greasley, Michael Donovan, Ben Johns and Dave Rose.  It shouldn’t be forgotten Mike Cotton’s 84 as part of his outstanding season for the club that would glean him over 400 runs nor should Ryan Carty’s 3-41 and Brad Jewer 3-46 be passed over either but was definitely Dempster’s day.