IT has been a difficult start in Hampshire County Division 2 for Redlynch & Hale 1st team Captain Matt Truckle as his side lost at Fair Oak by five wickets.

With scattered showers all around the ground and a dubious looking strip, the toss was always going to be crucial and when the skipper called wrongly, he was immediately asked to bat. And sure enough, some tight bowling from Joe Salmon (4-11) and Alex Chessell (4-12), plus a break for rain of 38 minutes, played havoc with the stuttering innings. Ian Tanner was bowled in only the fifth over and when Dave Webber was also castled for just 8, winning the toss looked to have proved a filip for ‘Oak skipper Matt Burrell.

Kev Hopkins (18) in mid order hung around for a while, but partners were coming and going with alarming regularity. In the lower order, James Taylor added a gutsy 13, not helped by a painful blow, before becoming another of Salmon’s victims. At 59-9, the position was dire and only a 10th wicket partnership of 39 between bowlers Will Hewlett (23) and Russ Church (11*) held things up as the visitors were bowled out for just 98.

However, there was some hope after tea when Ben Brown (3-19), opening the attack, reaped three wickets in his first over. With his second ball he trapped James Todd in front. Nick Bass followed two balls later for a duck, before Burrell was nicely pouched by Matt Truckle. But Phil Smith looked in determined mood as he overcame a shaky start and dug in well. Hewlett (1-5) made inroads and Church (1-22) trapped Mitch Le Tissier in front for 67-5, but Smith was by now going along nicely, striking 6 fours and a in six and finished 49 not out as the rain-reduced target of 83 was overhauled with five wickets in hand.

Further disappointment for the Woodfalls based outfit, who face further tough league action at the weekend, including a group semi final in the “Village Cup” against Goatacre from North Wiltshire.

The Club’s 2nd string had no match at the weekend, which meant the 3rd XI were given the rare opportunity to play at Woodfalls Cross. Hosting Regional Div 3 (NW) early leaders Southampton Travellers II, they too lost the toss and were asked to bat. Ben Lindsay (21) got the innings going, but Jack Vincent, dropping down to find some form, did just that. Striking a series of prodigious blows the stumper got to a fine 92 in a total of 162-9 as no one else made double figures. After the interval, the young R&H bowlers had their tails up as George Hayes and Jack Subucinski took 3 wickets each and the Cobern brothers, Jack and Harry each bagged a brace, as Travellers were stopped at 95 all out.