Calmore Sports booked their place in the Voneus National Village Cup second round with a comfortable enough four-wicket victory over Hambledon at Loperwood Park, kicking off their defence in professional style.

It wasn’t without its hiccups though as the modest chase of 131 to win saw Calmore reach 90-2, which soon become 99-5 as the trademark collapse threatened to derail.

Thankfully Jimmy Manning’s steady unbeaten 22 ensured there would be no slips against the SPCL Division 3 champions of 2021 on their way to booking a place in round two in a fortnight’s time.

We got off to a flying start – quite literally with a number of the players returning from Mark Lavelle’s stag weekend in Budapast!  But, following Hambledon’s decision to bat first after winning the toss, they soon found themselves 10-3 as Lord’s hero Steve Wright claimed opener Daniel McGovern and number four Chris Pratt to a fine caught and bowled while his opening bowling partner, the surprise to see Lavelle, enticed Henry Glanfield to edge behind to Max Bailey without scoring.

But while George Marshall was at the crease, Hambledon had some hope as he played superbly in reaching 57 from 71 balls, striking nine crisp fours as he attempted to single handedly resurrect the innings.  With support from Jonty Oliver, they improved 63-5 to 94-6 when Marshall finally succumbed, well taken by Manning off Liam Carty.

Oliver then stood up and was unbeaten on 37 (73 balls) as the Dons closed 130-9 from their 40 overs.

There was one great moment of sportsmanship when former Hampshire spinner Ian Turner pulled up with a hamstring strain attempting to take a second run – only for the Calmore skipper to call his team not to run out the stranded batter.  He did fall next delivery, skying Lavelle to Manning but it was an impressive sign of the spirit of the game.

Lavelle finished with figures of 3-11 in his eight overs, bowling at the start and back end of the innings, Wright as ever economical 3-23 while Carty chipped in with 2-21.

130 was always unlikely to be enough despite Will Brewster being trapped leg before – even though there was more of a hint of an inside edge!

However, Ben Johns had already shown signs of early season form with a fine half-century against South Wilts and he was, once again, the catalyst of the successful chase.

He might have taken 89 balls to make his 58 but it was his fourth consecutive Village Cup 50 and it equalled his sensational 58 he made at Lord’s last time out.

Youngster Marcus Bound, the only change to the team that won at Lord’s, coming in for Mike West, took his time to get going but supported his senior partner in a stand of 68 before he went for 11.

It was Shawn Johnson’s dismissal, bowled by McGovern that set the butterflies trickling as Max Bailey and then Johns all went in quick succession.

Matt Taylor, the steading influence last September, joined Manning and they played sensibly, to take the side home with 6.3 overs to spare and book a clash with Sarisbury Athletic in round two – who Calmore defeated last season on the way to the title.