July 30, 2003

A win for BAT and it should be all over

BAT Sports will all but mathematically tie up the ECB Southern Electric Premier League championship if they beat second-placed Bashley (Rydal) at the BCG tomorrow (SAT), 11.30am.

Already a massive 43 points clear at the top, BAT could lose their next two games - and still be out in front.

While BAT remain unbeaten, Bashley, Bournemouth, Havant and the Hampshire Academy have all lost three times.

"It's a big `no lose' game for us, but we will continue to play positively - that's the only way we know how and the reason why we're top," said skipper Richard Dibden.

"We've got ourselves in a very strong position and won't be easing off.

"Recent results have gone in our favour, but we've been very consistent all summer and are keen to go unbeaten."

Both BAT and Bashley, who have an identical `won 5, drawn 2' record in seven all-day `time' matches, field full strength sides tomorrow.

Bashley know they must win to prevent the last month of the season becoming academic - and captain Matt King believes his side are capable of beating the leaders.

"I back the ability in our team and we've improved considerably since our poor start to the season.

"BAT are not unbeatable and I'd love us to be the first team to knock them over.

"The league isn't decided and, as far as I'm concerned, a lot can happen between now and then end," he said.

Contracting Cup finalists placed Bournemouth, who trounced Alton by ten wickets in midweek, are without Tom Webley for the visit to unchanged Andover.

Havant, who play Bournemouth in the SEC final on August 5, were effectively knocked out of the title race after last week's 70-run defeat by the Hampshire Academy.

They visit Calmore Sports, who are 20 points adrift at the foot of the table and in increasing danger of being replaced by neighbours Old Tauntonians & Romsey, who top Division 2.

John Wall, who hit an unbeaten 2nd XI century at Bramshaw last week, gets a deserved Calmore call up and will bat in the middle-order alongside James Hibberd, who hit a half-century for Hampshire 2nd XI in midweek.

With Jimmy Adams and Iain Brunnschweiler on Hampshire first team duty at Scarborough and several other players injured, the Academy will probably field a relatively youthful side against struggling Liphook & Ripsley at the Rose Bowl.

Michael Barnes coukd make his comeback after a nasty bout of illness in Portsmouth's key match against off-colour South Wilts at Bemerton.

Skipper Lee Savident is concerned at Portsmouth slide down the table which is culminated in them being only one point ahead of Liphook.