Switch on the television!  There is actual live cricket on – and doesn’t it feel good (well it would be if it stopped raining!).  England start their Test summer against the West Indies just a few miles away at the Ageas Bowl.  There is no one there, of course, with it all being behind closed doors but just to see the game back on our screens, in England, it’s fantastic.  It will soon be our turn to put the whites on and get back to playing, in some way or another.  Today is the 8th July – and here is our latest edition of events in Calmore history.

We needed to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of losing a close one with Portsmouth the previous week in the SPCL Division One season of 2017 and it was mission accomplished with a commanding six wicket win over Hook and Newnham for Mark Lavelle’s side.  He won the toss and put the home side in and would have been pleased to see them slide to 88-5 and 117-7 with the recalled Daniel Croft (1-25) and Liam Newton (1-26) taking the early honours before Mike West (2-23) and James Rose (2-36) cut through the middle order.  As is the norm for a Calmore side, they were left off the leash as Richard Willcock made 33 and then Rhodes Franklin (26*) and Aniket Divecha (39*) boosted their total to an unlikely 198-8.  For the record, Ben Thane scored 19 – so no party this time!  We lost openers Michael Cook and Ben Perry with 47 on the board but it mattered not as Ben Johns (46) and Jimmy Manning (49) batted with composure which allowed Jack Rutter to blitz a 39-ball unbeaten 61 to lead us home with five overs to spare and get our Championship ambitions back on.

Look away now those of a nervous disposition or if you are Tom Perry, Paul Henry or any of the 2s players from his home game with Follands in County 3 South.  These memory jogs can be a lot of fun – but this one will send shivers through the spine as it was absolutely impossible to lose this from the position we got ourselves in.  All of our batsmen made a contribution towards our 176 all out with Darren Vann’s 32 top scoring and Henry’s unbeaten 27 down the order close behind as he put on 31 for the tenth wicket with Storm Anning who made 15.  An impressive bowling display from Henry (5-22) and Dave Blake (3-51) saw Follands crash from 53-1 to 89-9.  That just left Satish Louis and Richard Spiers at the crease, the last pair.  Surely it was only a matter of time before the game was over with our four pronged attack of Anning, Hurst, Henry and Blake.  The overs ticked by, they all bowled out their 10 overs and that last pair were still going.  Tom Perry turned to Mitch Parker and Callum Bailey – he had to.  They couldn’t remove them either – 89-9 became 177-9 and the Hamble side would win by one wicket with Louis finishing 69 not out and Spiers 23.  A miraculous win from nowhere, a deflating one for us.

Here’s the skipper.  “I felt like we had enough runs on the board to defend and we seemed to be proving that theory right at 89-9.  I think the ninth wicket fell with Blake and the Dog still with eight overs left between them.  I gambled to get the game done with before the 40th over, so bowled them through, having bowled Al and Storm straight through earlier.  However, I didn’t have a plan B up my sleeve for the last five overs.  Credit to Louis and Spiers who kept things simple by defending anything on the stumps, and throwing the kitchen sink at the rest.  Their partnership was chanceless and chase timed perfectly, so the only “what ifs” I have from that game are ‘should I have squeezed the five overs in the middle of Dog/Blake'”.

At least it was better news from the 3s game at home to Over Wallop in Regional 2 North-West.  Paul Jewer (33) and Sam Vidler (39) gave us a good start before an excellent run-a-ball 66 from Ollie Dennett allowed us to post 192-7.  All-rounder Vidler, opening the batting and the bowling, then decimated the Wallopers with 5-29 while Martin Donovan claimed 3-16 which hurried them to just 98 all out and a comfortable 94 run win.

A year later in 2018, something rare happened … we won a T20 game!  This was in the SPCL T20 Plate round 1 and we headed up to Andover in hope rather than expectation having lost to Liphook and Ripsley in round one of the Cup a couple of weeks earlier and also given our less than impressive record in North Hampshire.  We won the toss and batted first and Michael Cook (39) and Jimmy Manning (31) made the most of it to help us to 131-8 in our 20 overs.  We would put in an outstanding bowling display with something else that was exceedingly rare in the shortest form of the game.  Maidens are few and far between in 20 over cricket.  One maybe, two unusual.  We bowled FOUR!  Mark Lavelle’s 4-2-11-3 and Mike West 4-2-13-2 held the hosts to just 117-8 despite Olly Cox’s 48 not out which he added to his 3-32 earlier.  We were through, into the next round, the quarter-final …. against Hampshire Academy.

Having been crushed by 123 runs, 165 runs and 169 runs in the previous three weeks in SPCL Division 3 in 2006, Jamie Winters’ side welcomed Easton and Martyr Worthy to Loperwood Park with some trepidation.  We had conceded 857 runs in those three games bowling first so it was time to change things up so we won the toss and batted first and it worked as Simon Ennew (85) and Winters (38) put on 91 for the first wicket and then the mantle was taken up by Mark Archer, who smashed a 77-ball 103 not out.  22 from Tom Pegler was a useful addition as we posted 289-7 in our 50 overs, our highest team total since our 299-3 at home to Longparish exactly 11 years previously in 1995.  Easton were 54-3 when Jon Sparks went but the big hitting Steve Green was there and he would crack 125 from 99 balls with 12 fours and four sixes which would take them within four of victory.  Keith Woodhall, on his way to 5-55, would remove him and then Richard Butcher.  They were nine down and still needed four.  Here’s Paul Proudley.  “Oh, is this that game when I dropped their tenth wicket and we went on to lose?”  Here’s Paul again, “is this the game that if we won we probably wouldn’t have got relegated?”.  Yes, Paul.  Yes it is.  When Adam Murch slapped the ball in the air looking for the winning runs, Proudley was there at mid off.  The ground held its breath.  We needed this win desperately, especially after the previous three weeks.  Come on Pra, it’s not difficult …….. he dropped it.  They got one.  Number 11 Sam Dickety hit a four off the last ball to win the game by one wicket.  Our 289-7 is still the highest score we have ever scored in a losing cause, we would be relegated back to County One at the end of the season and Paul Proudley left for Totton and Eling.

We have often derided the Time games that we played from 2000 to 2003 in the top flight of the Southern Premier League but this one is definitely one that got away in our away game with Bashley (Rydal) in the inaugural SPCL season of 2000.  After winning the toss and batting first, that decision was looking a little dicey at 18-3 but a 98-run stand between Gregg Lewis (36) and Lee Savident (60) would pull us right and contributions from Pete Clark (22) and Paul Cass (29) would take us to 180 all out with opening pair Matt King (3-42) and John Whiting (4-46) delivering the majority of the 57.3 overs.  Hampshire’s Neil Thurgood (40) and future international Luke Ronchi (41) would stand out but the hosts dipped to 105-7 when Dale Middleton went.  Could we slam home our advantage?  King scored 14, Neil Sexton 17 but it was another Hampshire player Ian Hilsum’s 81-ball 28 not out which guided them home by just one wicket despite Allan Hurst’s 4-67, James Hibberd 3-45 and Mark Boston 2-26.

This innings has already been mentioned in this edition and here it is now.  It is the Southern League match in 1995 against Longparish where our overseas player achieved a unique feat in our club history of a century and five wickets in the same game.  21-year-old Durbanite Kurt Donaldson, who would play alongside Kevin Pietersen in a first-class match some three years later for Natal B and with former internationals Neil Johnson and Dale Benkenstein for Natal in a ListA fixture in 1997, was an impressive cricketer.  He would prove his worth in this game when he would share in an unbroken stand of 169 with Clive Surry on his way to a magnificent 128 while Surry would stay resolute with an unbeaten 72 (naturally!).  Our imposing 299-3 would be our highest team total in the 15 years of cricket at Loperwood and would prove to be too many for the North Hampshire side especially once Donaldson had taken 5-52 in 13 overs.  Chris Garrett (3-30) and John Shepherd (2-47) did their bit but it was Donaldson’s achievements that day which marked him out.  He would play just three more games for us.

We were on our way to title glory in County One in 1989 but this game against Basics-Polhill at Down Grange in Basingstoke could have knocked that progression.  Skipper Rob Budd’s 62 stood alone as his dismissal left us 98-6 but Paul Draper’s steady 27 not out in 58 balls and Chris Garrett’s more robust 20-ball 28 lifted the score to a more competitive 148-9 in 42 overs.  Lovelock (20) and Richards (36) give the home side a great start and Saunders’ 56 not out was dangerous but Garrett’s 4-30 in 12 overs and 2-26 from the captain held them down and they would fall just two runs shy of the victory.  We would go unbeaten right until the final day.

Fancy a bit more silverware?  OK then – here we go.  It is the Sydney Wyatt Knock-Out Final in 1983 and we would take on Lyndhurst on a normally neutral venue for this tournament showpiece of Bolton’s Bench.  As it turned out, it didn’t matter as Terry Chilcott’s side would reign supreme by 26 runs.  The captain himself top scored with 24 while Baz Oram’s 15 not out boosted the total late on despite Andy Steadman’s 3-24 and R. Budd’s 1-6 in three overs at the top.  Ian Watson and John Harris gave Lyndhurst a 33-run start but Ray Hurst’s 4-12, as the fifth bowler, sliced through and the hosts would end on only 65-6 to give us a 26 run win.

Today’s last section almost follows on from much that has been seen earlier on – very narrow wins!  The first of those came in County One again in 1978 at KGV where we would be up against St. Cross looking to extend our run of six wins in a row, five of which had been achieved batting first.  After Billy Sims (37), Bob Wilcocks (54) and Ben Lyon (24) had given us a superb commencement to the innings at 125-3, we would have been disappointed not to take it further despite Terry Chilcott’s unbeaten 43.  Our total of 175-7 was still competitive.  Peter Taylor took 2-46 and Michael Newman 3-49 zipped through the Winchester sides’ top order and left them 80-5 but 50 from keeper Meek and an unbeaten 17 from future Calmore player Mike Glogg took them close but Meek was run out going for the run that would have sealed a tie and we would clinch a one-run win.

And there was another one in round two of the Sydney Wyatt Knock-Out in 1968 when we travelled to Lymington and exactly the same conclusion when Crouch was run out for 16 going for the run which would have tied the scores.  Terry Chilcott made 23 and John Newman 15 not out as we made 84-7.  Philips with 21 for the hosts gave them a solid start before Crouch and Sanson picked up the rate when they came together at 46-5 and took them to 74-6 but Crouch’s run out set up a semi-final next week with Paultons.