July 6, 2003

SPCL1 Week10 - Title race already down to two

The ECB Southern Electric Premier League championship race is an all BAT Sports-Havant affair ... yet again !

For the fourth year running and for the next eight weeks, the two heavyweights - who clash in the 20-over SEC Cup semi-finals at Southern Gardens tomorrow (TUES) evening, 6pm - will again battle it out for the title.

Havant, the defending champions, have won the championship twice in the past three years and BAT on the other occasion.

BAT, currently 17 points clear, ended any slim prospects Bournemouth harbored of making a tangible impact in silverware affairs when they shot the Dorset club out for 113 to record a resounding eight-wicket win.

Second-placed Havant, whose August 16 visit to Totton will probably be decisive, beat Andover (126) by an identical margin.

Losing the toss and inserted under overcast skies, Bournemouth were rocking at 12-3 after a devastating new-ball spell by left-arm paceman Dan Goldstraw (4-39).

Goldstraw, the Premier League's leading wicket taker for the past three seasons, removed Tom Webley, Matt Swarbrick and Adam Voges in the space of three overs.

The Bournemouth trio claimed that Goldstraw was exploiting a damp patch on a length but the BAT pace bowler put the success down to his ability to swing the ball both into and away from the batsmen.

He got the left-handed Webley with a beauty which pitched leg stump and took the Somerset youngster's off peg, had Swarbrick playing back to a pitched-up ball, and Voges pouched at slip by New Zealander Neal Parlane.

"There was no way back after that," Swarbrick commented. "Charlie Holcomb battled it out well and a couple of other guys got into double figures, but generally speaking we didn't bat very well.

"All credit to BAT, though. They are a good side and I reckon they'll win the league this year."

Bournemouth will have to rely on the 'limited-overs pennant' for any rewards this season.

They won their initial three 50-over matches and will be pressing their pennant claim when the shorter version game returns on August 9.

Holcomb, dropped for last week's eight-wicket win at Liphook, tried hard to hold Bournemouth together after Goldstraw's triple blow and, for a while, had a reliable partner in Kingston Lacey teenager Nick Park (17).

Park chanced his arm, surviving a couple of missed chances, but battled it out for an hour before perishing in the slip cordon at 47-4.

Holcomb (36) saw Richard Scott and Martin Miller depart as Bournemouth staggered to 86-6 at lunch.

BAT off-spinner Richard Dibden (4-20) eventually included Holcomb among his four victims as the visitors slipped to 113 all out.

Sean Walbridge flung his bat in a final desperate attempt, hitting three of 20 fours Bournemouth scored - 80 of their 113-run total coming in boundaries as BAT continued to attack.

Attack was certainly the in-word as Parlane, the dominant Kiwi opener who scored 150 at South Wilts last week, got stuck into the Bournemouth bowling.

He pounced on anything over-pitched or dropped short and, with Damian Shirazi alongside, soon pointed BAT towards an emphatic victory.

Parlane was already well into his stride, having launched one big six over mid-wicket, when he took three successive fours off one Richard Scott over.

Jo Wilson bowled Shirazi (17) at 75-1 and Richard Kenway holed out to Holcomb at cover before Parlane hit Nick Reeves for a massive straight six to complete BAT's win in just 25.1 overs.

The New Zealander hit two sixes and eight fours in an unbeaten 68 and, in the process, became the first Premier League batsman to pass the 500-run mark this season.