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Hayward hails teammates’ commitment
COMMITMENT, proper match preparation and consistency were the three of the main factors behind South Wilts’ successful defence of the ECB Southern Electric Premier Cricket League title, according to skipper James Hayward, who led the Bemerton club to a coveted double this summer.
In addition to winning the Premier Division championship this season, South Wilts lifted the Southern Electric t20 Cup for the first time since 2006.
South Wilts won ten of their 15 SPL matches and finished 30 points clear of Havant, who were runnersup.
They won the Premier Division Time Pennant – awarded to the club with the best record in all-day cricket – for a fifth time in six years.
“The commitment of the players has been brilliant,” said Hayward.
“They’ve turned up for training in good numbers every week, as a result of which we’ve been in the right mind-set to go out and perform every Saturday.
“That’s led to consistency. We have tried to be consistent with both our selection and our performances and I think generally we have got it right.
“Our t20 cup team was actually pretty different to our regular league side, but having the depth to bring four or five players in from the 2nd XI and still be strong shows us that the club is in a great position.”
Hayward led from the front, hitting three centuries in a 603-run haul besides cracking a magnificent 130 against Burridge in the Ageas Bowl t20 final.
But he was even more delighted that South Wilts had retained their title, with the SPL arguably at its strongest yet.
“The influx of the four Australian Academy cricketers meant the quality increased straight away; all of a sudden every side you play against has at least one standout player.
“That said, as a team we never thought about it or even mentioned our league position until the last few weeks of the season, it was kind of an unwritten rule that we just get on with it.
“It certainly worked for us and once again we were the strongest team through-out the middle period of the season, somewhere we’ve been strong for a number of years now.
A glance at the Premier Division statistics emphasises Hayward’s comments about ‘consistency’ throughout the team.
In addition to Hayward’s 603 runs, Tom Morton was just behind with 597, Zimbabwean Ryan Burl 411, Eddie Abel 385, Steve Riddle 309 and teenager Jack Mynott weighing in with 285 runs in just six games.
“All of our top seven averaged over 26 and that’s pretty rare,” Hayward added.
The South Wilts skipper picked out 28-wicket off-spinner Rob Franklin as his side’s lead bowler.
“Frankie finished one behind James Hibberd in the end, but he’s been excellent in the middle throughout the season.
“To be fair, all the bowlers have been decent – Hibberd (29) and Burl (22) made the charts – and our fielding, as always, was top drawer,” he pointed out.
Hayward, man-of-the-match after a six-strewn 130 in the Electric t20 Cup final and Premier Division Cricketer of the Month in July, had a final word for the club’s supporters.
“We get a lot more people watching our games than most.
"The Wilton Road boundary is often crammed with cars and families enjoying picnics: we appreciate that support and hope we’ve entertained everyone,” he said.