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South Wilts hoping to retain title
SOUTH Wilts could be crowned ECB Southern Electric Premier League champions for a second consecutive season on Saturday – if results from the penultimate round of fixtures go in their favour.
They host Bashley (Rydal) at Bemerton (12.30) with a healthy 22- point lead under their belts.
But they will only be assured of the title if they beat the New Forest side and second-placed Ventnor fail to match their points tally against the Hampshire Academy on the Ageas Bowl Nursery Ground.
“We’re in the box seat and would like to wrap it up this weekend, as we don’t want to go to the Isle of Wight having to win to clinch the league,” said skipper James Hayward, right.
Like all the other clubs, South Wilts suffered with the weather last weekend – rain washing out their game with the Academy after 12 overs, with the Young Royals 43-2.
“Everyone was rained off at some point, so the league positions remain the same,” Hayward added.
South Wilts plan to name an unchanged side for the final home match of the season against Bashley, whom they beat in dramatic style with a Rob Franklin six off the last ball of the match in the mid-season Time pennant game.
“How important could Frankie’s six prove to be come the end of the season?” Hayward asked.
Eddie Abel, sidelined for the past month or so with a broken wrist, is hoping to play this weekend.
“He’s had the plaster cast off his arm, but his muscles are weaker than normal, so Eddie’s got a lot of arm strengthening to do, so needs to get on the weights,” Hayward continued.
“He’s anxious not to try and play too soon, but there’s a chance he could play in the second team at Basingstoke or, maybe, turn out in the Wiltshire Cricket Jack Wilcox Trophy tournament at Bemerton on Sunday.”
Cup holders South Wilts will defend their crown in a three-cornered joust with visiting Corsham and Goatacre, with play getting under way at 10.30am.
“We’ll field a young side, as we’ve done all season. It’s great experience for the youngsters to play in this type of cricket and, let’s face it, Corsham and Goatacre are decent sides,” Hayward warned.
South Wilts all-rounder Ryan Burl is off to India with the Zimbabwe Under-19 squad next month for a fournation 50-over tournament.
Burl, 19, who hopes to be selected as captain, will play against Australia, India and South Africa, arguably three of the strongest countries at Under-19 level. Burl misses South Wilts’ last three Premier League matches to prepare for the trip.
“There is a fairly intensive preparation programme, with 50-over warmup games against the various Zimbabwean franchises, plus training camps,” he explained.
“It’s been the close season insofar as Zimbabwe cricket is concerned, so there’s a lot of work to be done before we go to to India in a month’s time.”
The left-handed Burl made 411 runs for South Wilts this season and took 22 wickets with his leg spin, also helping South Wilts win the Southern Electric t20 Cup under the Ageas Bowl floodlights.