James Hibberd is keeping his fingers firmly crossed that a match winning performance for Calmore Sports against Hampshire's newly promoted Academy side will boost his prospects of further trials with Kent.

The 21-year old all-rounder took three wickets and struck a decisive half-century as Calmore sent the Young Hawks spinning to a seven-wicket ECB Southern Electric Premier League, Division 1 debut defeat at Loperwood Park.

But since producing an impressive two-wicket display with the ball in Kent's Second XI Trophy final success against Hampshire II at the Rose Bowl last September, the Canterbury trail appears to have gone cold for Hibberd.

"I packed up my full-time job in order to try and make it in the pro game," Hibberd said.

"But I've heard nothing from Kent since going down to Canterbury for practice in late March and don't really know where I stand at the moment.

"I'd like to give it a crack and play some more Second XI games down there (Kent) and I'm just waiting, hopefully, on the end of the phone."

Hibberd, who carried off the Premier League's prestigious Young Cricketer award last summer, certainly looked a class act as Calmore got the better of the weather to see off the young Hampshire hopefuls.

He struck two early blows after Academy captain Tony Middleton had surprisingly chosen to bat under threatening, rain-leaden skies.

He darted the first ball of the match back to pin Martin Bushell leg before and then snapped up a return catch to remove Kevin Latouf.

But promising King Edward VI School batsman Alex Richardson (32) and Peter Hammond wrested the initiative away from Calmore, easing the Academy to 52-2 after 11.1 overs when heavy rain forced a near 90 minute delay.

Umpires Mike Izzard and Dave Kirk were within five minutes or so of calling the match off due to the wet and greasy conditions.

Many captains would have called it a day but, to his credit Middleton, wanted to his youngsters to play saying: "They won't learn a lot from sitting on their backsides in the dressing room. "This is all about development and I wanted them back out on the pitch."

Richardson (32) and Hammond promptly took 24 runs off two overs immediately after the resumption - only for the KES youngster to have his stumps flattened by Paul Cass, who made steady inroads into the heart of the Academy middle-order.

The Bramshaw-based all-rounder quickly whipped out Tom Burrows, and was on a hat-trick after removing Mitchel Stokes (16) and leg before victim Ian Hilsum in consecutive deliveries.

His spell of 4-40 left the Young Hawks in some disarray at 117-7, but Hammond, albeit restrained, kept the score ticking along, bringing up a well deserved fifty before being stumped by the quick hands of Stuart Bailey at 144-8.

Left-hander David Griffiths (24 not out) assumed Hammond's mantle, playing some crisp shots in a late partnership with Loperwood favourite Matt Metcalfe (16) as the Academy moved on to 190-9.

But the loss of 23 overs playing time carved into the Hampshire innings, leaving Calmore with a relatively straight-forward ask of 103 off 27 overs.

Initially, it proved anything but academic - Griffiths, the Shanklin-based teenager with a wealth of talent, quickly accounting for Cass and James Rose.

But the loss of those two early wickets simply set the stage for Hibberd to play the role of match winner.

He went for his shots, playing several sumptuous shots through the mid-on and mid-off `V' as the Academy youngsters were pushed on to the back foot.

Hibberd's batting certainly impressed Middleton, who might even be tempted to give the Kent hopeful another crack in Hampshire's colours in this week's Second XI Rose Bowl friendlies.

The Sholing all-rounder hit 53, totally dominating the 62-run third-wicket partnership with the unflappable Mark Boston, whose 26 not out steered Calmore to a crucial victory.

Middleton, though disappointed with the result, drew a lot of satisfaction from the match. "I learned quite a lot about my players on Saturday," he said.

"The challenges Premier One cricket will bring is going to be a big test for these young cricketers.

"They are going to be playing against some very good club cricketers - and a few class ones from overseas - and it's going to be an interesting season for them."

Calmore, meanwhile, were delighted.

A homely club, they have not replaced some of the top players (like Martin Kellaway) they have lost in recent seasons.

They are expected to struggle this season, but a win against the Academy has given the Loperwood Park club a timely fillip before daunting tests against South Wilts and Havant in the next fortnight.