The end of the month.  Two Bank Holiday’s done.  One of the warmest and driest May’s on record, according to the weather experts.  It would have been the perfect start to the 2020 season.  And, with Loperwood Park looking a picture – the despair of no cricket continues.  But there were great days over the years and here are some that happened “On This Day” – 31st May.

Our first stop today is Sparsholt in SPCL Division Two in 2014 and with two wins already on the board – as well as a couple of abandonments – we were hopeful of being in the shake up at the end of the season but a trip to the delightful Winchester village is always a challenge.  The home side won the toss and put us into bat and unleashed their trump card – a wily old young left-armer who sliced the top off the Calmore innings in the space of seven deliveries – sending Mark Lavelle (11), Josh Holden (24) and Ben Johns (0) back to the pavilion on his way to 6-2-12-3 to leave us 41-3.  Skipper Darren Vann (20) and Tom Pegler (38) salvaged the innings and took us to 140 all out (note: you remember a couple of days ago we rose the point about Calmore overseas players who left an indelible mark on the club ….. yeah that!!).  Sparsholt crashed to 28-7 in reply as our demon pace duo got to work, Matt Maiden taking 2-8 in his six overs but it was Daniel Croft’s day, returning his second five-wicket haul for the 1sts with a brilliant 10-3-19-5.  The Sparsholt tail wagged – a 28-run stand between Wrighty (14* off 47 balls) and Jonathan Vokes (18) boosting the total before Mark Lavelle put the end to that and the home side were bowled out for 71.

As it turned out, it was to be a Calmore full house!  The 2s defeated Follands at Loperwood Park by 6 wickets with the visitors only making 109-9 in their 45 overs, opener Joseph Batchelor carrying his bat for a 131-ball 52 as Keith Woodhall’s 10-7-9-1, Allan Hurst 10-7-11-4 and Paul Henry 10-1-15-3 tied him and his colleagues in knots.  Tom Perry led the response perfectly with an unbeaten 59 alongside Mark Hardy’s 27.  The 3s trounced Hyde 2s by 68 runs as Jack Nicholson (60) and Glen Kinchington (51*) guided us to 169-9 before Ryan Lomax tore through the top order with 4-25 and Sam Vidler cut the tail down with 4-10 in 8.2 overs.  And to complete the four wins, the 4s beat Compton and Chandler’s Ford 4s by 47 runs after Stuart Bailey hit 39 not out to salvage us from 49-6 and then Connor Pengelly took 3-20 and Calum Bailey 2-21 sent the visitors to 85 all out.

Could 31st May be known as Daniel Croft Day?  Or should it be Ollie Tull Day?

In the Border League in 2011, Tom Houlder took 3-36 and Crofty 3-30 as Cadnam reached 128-7.  Tom Perry and Luke Gould – the Tuesday night bullies – put on 48 for the first wicket before Ollie came in and smashed 62 not out in just 29 balls with six fours and three sixes to lead us to the nine-wicket victory.  And this came two years after a Sunday friendly at home to Pylewell Park where Ollie’s 55 not out drove us to a five-wicket victory after Marc Gilmore’s 2-19 and Dave Brandes 2-29 restricted the visitors to 158-8.

In 2008, the 1s game in County One against Portsmouth 2s at Loperwood didn’t start but the 2s went to Cowplain in Regional 1 South and won by 62 runs, again thanks to a salvaging job from the lower order.  We were 77-8 batting first after Paul Henry’s 25 before Steve Brandes with 34 and Luke Johnson 11* pushed the score up to 115, which you wouldn’t fancy would have been enough.  It was as Henry’s 8-4-10-1 and Darren Challis with remarkable figures of 12-7-11-3 saw Cowplain have little in response – a sign of this was S.Rayner at number 4 facing 20 balls for his 0 and M.Moss at 3 facing 33 balls for his three runs before being trapped lbw by Brandes, who followed up with 2-16.  And it things weren’t bad enough for the hosts, the extra pace of Luke Johnson sent the tail scampering with 4-8 as they were rolled for 53 in 31.5 overs.

I think you could call this game in 2003 as one that got away.  It was a home game with Liphook & Ripsley in SPCL Division One for Tom Pegler’s side and he won the toss and put the visitors in on what looked like a difficult wicket.  It proved to be as Liphook crashed to 73-8 thanks to Mark Boston’s 3-37, Eugene Burzler with 2-19 and economical spells from James Hibberd (1-28), Paul Cass (1-19) and Steve Brandes (1-23).  But a stand of 58 between Tim Wheatley (40*) and Alan Crawford (20*) for the ninth wicket gave them something to bowl at at 131-8.  Pegler’s 23 and Burzler with 19 were the only ones to stand up against Crawford’s 4-9 and Gay 3-16 as we were bowled out for 91.

Spin!  Where would we be without it?  Back in the late 1990s, we were famed for it with Paul Draper, Paul Whitaker, Kevin Marshall, Mark Boston and John Shepherd all dangerous on their day.  One such game was in 1997 at home to Old Tauntonians.  Chris Steedon and Gregg Lewis both took a wicket each but it was the arrival into the attack of Draper (4-24) and Whitaker (3-40) that put the skids until their charge as 97-2 became 149 all out – Richard Rapley’s 43 the only batsman to pass 20.  OTs bowled well but we sauntered to victory with 22 balls to spare after Martin Kellaway made 50* and Whitaker 31.

What would one of these “On This Day” stories be without yet another Ray Hurst bowling masterclass?  Well, here comes another one back in 1980 away at Portsmouth Civil Service.  Much like yesterday’s epic tie in 1981, our lower order batters didn’t like to hang around long – 121-3 became 132 all out in quick time after Billy Sims (53) and Bob Wilcocks (38) had put on 92 for the first wicket.  But when you have Ray in our bowling line-up then any score is enough and his 7-48 in 19.2 overs, opening with Steve Brandes (1-36) and Ron Merritt following up (2-21) sent PCS to 116 all out.  Ray took 15 five-wicket hauls in his first XI career!

Today’s last one comes from 55 years ago – 1965.  It was the first round of the A.J. Day Shield – a shield presented by Arthur Day of Day Summers Shipyard in Northam, which was a competition played in the Southampton Parks League.  The Shield was, apparently, a huge, cumbersome thing but we were keen to win it and beat Old Edwardians in this evening game which was played across 24 overs per side!  Edwardians batted first and made 127-9 as Keith Bell took 3-57 and D. Young 5-66 – the only two bowlers used!  Stan Piper’s 23 gave us a good start before Terry Chilcott (35) and Vic Sevier (42) took us to the brink – Young and Vic Loveless putting us into Round 2 – where we would lose to serial winners Bramtoco …. the precursor to B.A.T.Sports and now Totton & Eling.