SOUTH Wilts captain James Hayward is backing his seam attack to come up trumps again and bring the Salisbury club further ECB Kingfisher Beer Cup glory when Bridgwater visit Bemerton on Sunday (1pm).
The current Southern Electric Premier League leaders successfully defended modest totals to knock Bath and Sully Centurions out in the last two rounds – and Hayward is asking for the same again.
“We’ve bowled and fielded superbly as a unit and beaten two very good club sides, and I’m confident we can do it again,” he said.
“Conditions are bound to be damp after all the poor weather we’ve had and that might suit us.
“It’s the last 16 of the national competition – a stage we’ve not reached previously in my time at the club – so if we can get through, it’s the quarter-finals.”
South Wilts will need to be at their best again as Bridgwater are arguably the strongest side to come to Bemerton so far.
They are top of the West of England Premier League – the western equalivant of the SPL – and have a fine track record in the national knockout, having been narrowly edged out by Ealing last season.
South Wilts go into the tie with their unbeaten Premier League record intact after battling out a ‘losing draw’ at St Cross Symondians, who came within two wickets of become the first team to beat Hayward’s side this season.
An undefeated half-century by Rob Franklin enabled South Wilts to hold on at 203-8, after St Cross had posted a formidable 277-7 in 64 overs.
It made little difference to the situation at the top of the table, although Bashley’s win over the Hampshire Academy means that South Wilts’ lead has been trimmed to 30 points.
Although they suffered a wobble just before and then immediately after lunch, third placed St Cross bossed proceedings once openers Charlie Esson (63) and George Adair (47) had provided an 86-run launch.
Jordan Finney (4) and Hampshire prospect Adam Rouse (18) perished to leave St Cross 132-3.
And when Esson and Lawrie Prittipaul (23) went in quick succession to make it 165-5, South Wilts might have seized the initiative.
But after teenage debutant Steve Berryman (16) had done his bit, former Hampshire cricketer Richard Logan (52 not out) and Ed Green (33) laid siege to the bowling.
The pair added 89 in nine furious overs to lift St Cross to 277-7.
Logan, who joined St Cross from Chichester Priory Park in the close season, removed South Wilts openers Steve Riddle and Tom Morton.
And when Matt Perry-Lewis (2-46) prised out Owen Alsop and Eddie Abel (35), South Wilts were in some discomfort at 74-4.
The visitors were facing a first defeat of the summer at 103-6, but James Hayward (40), who survived one confident appeal for a catch behind in the early part of his innings, and Rob Franklin gradually eased the leaders to security.
Even so, with Logan (5-63) completing a nap hand haul, South Wilts dropped to 170-8 before Franklin finally shut the door on St Cross’s victory prospects.
Franklin finished with an unbeaten 57, which enabled the visitors to hold on at 203-8.
*South Wilts have big hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell back from t20 duty and also have Hampshire left-arm pace bowler James Tomlinson on parade in Saturday’s ECB Southern Electric Premier League match against the Hampshire Academy at Bemerton, 11.30.