The defence of the Voneus National Village Cup commences on Sunday at Loperwood Park when we welcome Hambledon for round one (1pm start).

The Dons, champions of SPCL Division 3 last season, will pose a significant threat so early in the competition, boosted by their league winning performance from 2021.  However, we produced a fine performance in downing South Wilts II at Bemerton last Saturday afternoon with Ben Johns and Will Brewster both hitting half-centuries, Max Bailey an improvising 41 not out and Mark Lavelle chipping in with three wickets as we ran out five-wicket victors.

It will be the first time that we have played Hambledon in competitive action since our SPCL Division 2 league winning season of 2016 while it will only be the fifth time the two sides have played in this century – 2006 at Hambledon (lost by 165 runs), 2010 at Hambledon (no result) and the two games in 2016 at Calmore (won by 4 wickets) and at Hambledon (lost by 18 runs).

The bizarre stat of this fixture in competitive matches is that Hambledon has never won at Loperwood Park and Calmore has only won once in seven attempts at Ridge Meadow.

Calmore will be able to select from a full-strength squad, with vice captain Jimmy Manning naming a 14-man squad, all of whom were involved in last season’s competition bar one and the full 11 from the great day at Lord’s back in September – providing the plane bringing Mark Lavelle’s ‘stags’ from Budapest returns in time.

Calmore squad: Mark Lavelle (capt), James Manning, Matt Taylor, Marcus Bound, Will Brewster, Ben Johns, Steve Wright, Shawn Johnson, Max Bailey (wk), Ben Perry, Liam Carty, Sam Moss, Mike West, James Rose.

He said “the lads have trained really well and are looking forward to the game and returning to Loperwood Park for the first time this season.

“We had a good chat at training on Wednesday night.  We are the holders of this competition but it starts all over again on Sunday and we are playing a very good side in Hambledon, who we are not underestimating at all.

“So it should make for a very good game of cricket.”

For those coming along to the game, the Village Cup will be on show as this is the first back at home since that sensational day at cricket’s HQ.

Start time is 1pm and, once again, the game will be played over 40 overs.  Forecast is decent so come along and welcome home the reigning Champions!