The 1st XI made their return to Southern League Division 1 cricket by hosting hotly favoured New Milton – who were last year’s Div 1 runners up – at Loperwood Park, in a game that was always going to be a huge test.

Loperwood Park was at its picturesque best as always and the wicket was looking like a good one to get in on.  However, it was only the overhead conditions that swayed the Calmore skippers’ choice at the toss to have a bowl.  That was a decision that was backed up with the ball and in the field superbly and the new bowling opening partnership of Proudley and Wright got to work straight away – the first 3 overs of the day yielding maidens with Proudley in particular forcing many plays and misses from the New Milton opener James Haggerty.

Steve Wright then secured his first wicket for the club with Ben Johns taking a smart catch at mid-on.  Proudley soon joined the party, finally finding the outside edge of Haggerty’s bat which keeper Darren Vann secured with aplomb.  Wright finished with figures of 2/25 off his 10 and Proudley with 1/11 off 7 overs.  Johnson and West came into the attack and continued the good work, with the former picking up the wicket of Ben Lawes with a gem of a delivery.

The experienced James Park was, however, still at the crease and beginning to build an innings and when joined by Toby Edwards the scoring rate began to propel with the pair taking the score from a precarious 54 for 4 to 93 without further loss before the introduction of spin put paid to the partnership.

With Lavelle was bowling tight at one end, Perry picked up the wicket of Edwards (31) caught by Pegler at mid-wicket.  Rose then came into the attack and struck straight away dismissing New Milton skipper Ryan Beck with Vann taking another tidy catch.

Calmore were now back in control of the game with the score at 103/6 off 38 overs, although with James Park still at the crease his wicket was the important one if Calmore were to keep the score below 150.  Perry (2/50) then struck again dismissing Nick Elliott but it brought Dan Loader in to join Park at the crease and the pair began to attack and with some hard running, combined with lusty blows, the pair took the score to 172/7 off their 50 overs with Park finishing 66* and Loader 26* – Park’s innings in particular one which the Calmore players should look at to follow after the tea break.

After a typically delightful tea, Calmore set about the chase which they certainly felt was achievable should they apply ourselves and bat the 50 overs.

Sadly what followed was a completely different story.

The opening partnership of Lavelle and Vann faced some very good bowling early on from George Watts and Loader, and it was the latter that fell to Loader with the score on 13.  Wickets then began to tumble at regular intervals and after Watts had finished his spell – 7-4-4-3 – the top and middle order had been decimated with the home side at a precarious 26/4 with Lavelle still in on 6.

The trend followed and after a mix up between Lavelle and Perry saw the latter run out, the score quickly went from 33/5 to 33/8 after Gargaro had dismissed Proudley, West and Rose all without scoring, whilst Lavelle continued to watch it unfold at the other end.

The skipper was joined by Wright and then dug in to try and get some respectability out of the innings.  The pair both batted slowly but stemmed the flow of wickets and took the score past 50 before Lavelle finally fell for a patient 31 off 83 balls with the pair having Calmore’s highest partnership of the innings with 26.  Only two more was added to the score when Johnson was the last man to fall to give Gargaro his five-wicket haul and leave Calmore dismissed for 61 and still with some 20 overs left to bat.

A hard lesson learned on our return to Division 1 – after what was a fantastic bowling and fielding display to restrict New Milton to a below par score.  However, the batsmen couldn’t deliver and know the improvement required in the coming weeks.  Saying that, with New Milton one of the main contenders to win the league, it was always going to be a baptism of fire and it is now important that we stick together and go on to the next game against Bournemouth at Loperwood Park this Saturday.

Onwards and upwards, the signs are there that we can do well in this league should we bring our all-round performance to the table that we know we can produce.