May 21, 2003

Aymes returns to roots with a superb century

Former Hampshire wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes marked his recreational cricket comeback with a century as Hursley Park piled up 242-2 to defeat Southern Electric Premier League, Division 2 rivals United Services by 88 runs at The Quarters.

Aymes, who last played regularly for Hursley in 1989 before establishing himself in the Hampshire side, hit 119 and shared a club record league opening partnership of 231 with Roman Prendergast, who made 100.

"It was a bit agricultural at times but, apart from ten minutes in the Rose Bowl nets last month, it was the first time I'd picked up a bat since I was on the staff last summer," Aymes said.

"But I enjoyed every minute of it. It was great to be back at the club where I grew up."

Ironically, it almost didn't happen at all for Aymes, who last scored a century for Hampshire in the County Championship against Nottinghamshire two summers ago.

"I had some brake problems with my car in the morning and had to use a mate's wheels to get there," he explained. "Then I found I'd left my cricket bag in the boot of my car and had to rush off and collect my gear.

"I eventually arrived at The Quarters and just had time to gobble down some pot noodles before I went out to bat.

"It was all a bit embarrassing really, as I'd told everyone to be at the ground an hour before the start. Then I was the last one to pitch up !"

But an Aymes century - his last Southern League hundred came against Old Tauntonians in 1989 - and a chanceless ton from Prendergast soon eased newly promoted Hursley Park into the driving seat.

Their formidable 242-2 off 50 overs was always beyond United Services, who struggled to 156-8 by the close.

Rob Lowe, who stood down as captain when Aymes returned to the club, ripped out the US top order, finishing with 4-26 in 12 overs.

"He'd sat with his pads on watching Roman and myself bat for three overs, but bowled really well.

"In fact, we bowled well in partnerships and created a lot of pressure on the Services' batsmen," Aymes added.

Zimbabwean Warren Gilmour (37) top scored for US before becoming one of Ross Cambray's two victims.

The match would not have been played at all but for Hursley Park's volunteer work force who were on the ground mopping up - before they had eaten their breakfast!

"The ground was saturated after three days heavy rain and two of the sitescreens were damaged in Friday's heavy wind," revealed head Hursley groundsman Chris Westbrook.

"The ground team worked solidly for six hours and more to get the game on - and in the end their efforts were rewarded."

The wet weather washed out scheduled matches at Easton & Martryr Worthy (v Burridge) and Lymington's match with Purbrook.