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South Wilts continue title chase
SOUTH Wilts’ playing resources are being stretched as they chase a second consecutive ECB Southern Electric Premier League title.
Beaten by Lymington last Saturday, they will be without three front-line players for the remaining 50-over pennant matches against the Hampshire Academy, Bashley (Rydal) and Ventnor, writes Mike Vimpany.
Already without broken wrist victim Eddie Abel, South Wilts have now lost key spin all-rounder Ryan Burl and opener Steve Riddle.
Ryan has returned to his native Zimbabwe to prepare for the ICC Under 19 CWC, while Riddle fell heavily on his right shoulder in the field against Lymington and, in addition to dislocating his shoulder, has damaged ligaments.
“All three players are huge losses but we still have match winners in our side,” said skipper James Hayward.
“The seconds have also been doing well so I do believe we have more depth than we’ve had in the past and I have every confidence in the guys who will come in to fill these spots.”
In Hayward’s words, South Wilts ‘got out of jail’ when Lymington beat them by four wickets when the 50- over pennant cricket returned at Bemerton last weekend.
“Ventnor and Bashley (Rydal), the second and third-placed clubs, also lost, so we’ve still got a 22-point cushion at the top.
“That said, we are under no illusions and if we want to win this title then we need to start firing in 50 over cricket. We need to adapt, and adapt quickly.”
Hayward struck his third century in five matches but was unable to save the defending Premier League champions from a four-wicket defeat by Lymington at Bemerton.
He struck a battling 104 not out after the Salisbury side had slumped to 40-5, but New South Wales batsman Scott Henry, with an unbeaten 84, piloted Lymington past a 200-target with eight overs to spare.
Hayward described South Wilts’ top order batting as “impatient” – a series of poor shots culminating in Matt Metcalfe running through the early order for the second time this season.
Metcalfe took 9-51 against South Wilts in the Time pennant match between the sides in June – and threatened to repeat the feat with the new ball.
Returning 4-19 in his tenover spell, he dismissed Steve Riddle, Tom Cowley, Tom Morton and James Hibberd as South Wilts keeled over.
Ryan Burl, in his farewell game, perished to Dave Kidner.
With support from Joe Cranch (38) and Owen Also, Hayward applied himself to the task and was rewarded with a richly deserved unbeaten century, which raised South Wilts’ total to 199-7.
Lymington reached a period of uncertainty at 45-2, but a century third wicket stand between Henry and Darren Cowley (44) effectively sealed South Wilts’ fate.
During the stand, Riddle fell heavily in the field and was taken to hospital with damaged right shoulder ligaments which will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Burl (3-29) unsettled Lymington’s progress with three wickets in quick succession – but Henry’s presence continued to loom large at the non-striker’s end.
When Lymington slipped to 158-6, South Wilts maintained an outside chance of victory, but Henry found a reliable partner in one-time Bemerton colt Simon Beetham, who helped the visitors across the line with an undefeated 24.