July 31, 2003

Biggest test for years for struggling Calmore Sports

Calmore Sports face their biggest test in years when they travel to play Liphook & Ripsley tomorrow, 11.30am, in an ECB Southern Electric Premier League basement battle they dare not lose.

Defeat for Calmore - already 20 points adrift at the bottom - would be unthinkable and mean virtual relegation.

"It needs a massive effort from everyone," said opening batsman Gary Stinson, who hit a gritty half-century in Calmore's recent drawn match with South Wilts.

"There have been signs of an improvement. We might have beaten South Wilts and had Havant 58-3 when it rained last week.

"But this really is the big one and I believe we've got the ability in the team to win," he added.

Calmore, minus Lord's-bound Stuart Bailey, need a big performance from all-rounder James Hibberd.

"Hibbo's been producing the goods for Hampshire 2nd XI and Wiltshire. Now we need him to do it for us," Stinson said.

Liphook are doing little better in the league and have major doubts over opening bowler Tim Wheatley, who missed last week's visit to the Academy, and 16-wicket off-spinner Alan Crawford (shoulder).

Fellow strugglers Portsmouth will have Hampshire all-rounder Lawrie Prittipaul on duty against Andover at St Helen's, Southsea.

Andover are hampered by the absence of Jerry Hayward, Ian Langdown and the influential Mark Miller, who is organising a fielding clinic at the Rose Bowl.

Table-topping BAT Sports will be virtually out of sight if they extend their 43-point lead at the expense of the Hampshire Academy at Southern Gardens.

They are without Damian Shirazi, who is Lord's Groundstaff duty at the Test Match, but call up King Edward VI School captain Graham Noble, who has been in good form for Hampshire Under-21s.

The Academy team includes Ed Bruce - younger brother of Hampshire newcomer James Bruce - who this week became the first batsman in ten years to score consecutive centuries for Hampshire Under-16s.

Bruce minor hit 122 in the U16s drawn match against Middlesex at Lensbury.

Bashley (Rydal) need to complete the double over neighbours Bournemouth at Chapel Gate to stand any prospect of wresting the `time' cricket pennant away from BAT Sports.

It's the last of the nine-week session of all-day `time' matches and Bashley have a seven-point leeway to make up on BAT, who host the Hampshire Academy at Southern Gardens.

"In some ways it's out of our hands," said Bashley's 32-wicket strike bowler Matt King.

"We've just got to get on with the business of beating Bournemouth and hope that the Academy lads can do us a favour by holding BAT."

Premier League Time Pennant

B.A.T.Sports, Played 7, Points 136, Avge 19.43; Bashley (Rydal), 7, 129, 18.42; Hampshire Academy, 7, 121, 17.28; Havant 7, 97, 13.86.

Bashley, who expect to field an unchanged side, have won five of their seven `time' matches, compared with Bournemouth, who have won four times and lost the other three.

Bournemouth, minus Matt Swarbrick and Tom Webley, who is making his County Championship debut for Somerset at Durham, will be captained by Western Australia's Adam Voges.

Defending champions Havant, who face Bournemouth in the SEC Cup final on the main Rose Bowl arena on Tuesday, 5.45pm, are without Steve Snell against South Wilts.

Hampshire's James Tomlinson will spearhead the South Wilts attack.