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Havant Cricket Club - Formed 1822

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Havant CC Review 2002 (written by Mark Readman)

As we approached the season, the tried and trusted core of the side, under the new leadership of Dom Carson, all said goodbye to the retiring Richard Lewis and welcome to three new colleagues - Macky Hobson (the former, Bevis Moynan and Steve Snell. How would it all work out ? Would the new faces gel ? Could the side grab that valued pennant back from the BAT Sports clubhouse along the M27?

The fixture computer gave us a tough baptism. A resumption of local rivalries, first with newly promoted Portsmouth, followed immediately by an early meeting with 2001 winners, BAT and then the hosting of many people's pre-season championship favourites, Bashley-Rydal.

The target was set of two wins from three and duly met - with two mightily close 12 run victories against Pompey (The Hobson show - 46 and 5-33) and the Tobacco men, followed by a thumping reverse at the hands of Bashley - which was amazingly their first win!!

The next three games were all won - all where the bowlers impressed, but the batting most certainly did not, with the margin of victories being 2, 3 and 4 wickets respectively - and all three games were in fact closer than that ! Luke Sears won the Calmore Sports game single-handedly with a gutsy 48 not out.

So there we were after 6 games - 5 close wins and a convincing defeat - top of the league and sitting pretty, knowing we could play much better, knowing the league was fearsomely competitive and that sides would give us nothing, but scratching our heads for the magic potion of consistency, particularly with the bat. Two excellent performances against Burridge (debut game on Havant Park's new harder tracks) and a last ball outright win at Bournemouth (the Richard Hindley show - 100 and 5-40) put us in good heart for the crunch game at home to BAT. Unfortunately we were comprehensively outplayed and beaten and as a result lost the league leadership, picking up only 3 points. Could we respond?


The answer was sadly not brilliantly, as Bashley-Rydal again outplayed us, on another cracking track in the New Forest, and had two hours to bowl us out, with only our last 4 wickets remaining. That old Havant spirit though never dies and this time the skipper, Phil Loat, Graham Benton (the much improved Big G), Hobson and Stephen Foulger together put on an amazing 120 runs and we escaped with a draw and nine points. As it turned out it was the day the championship was won!

Chins were up again and the side followed that great escape with a very assured display against Andover (despite a brilliant hundred from Roger Miller). However, we were a win and half behind BAT by now, with the awesome BAT time game machine in full flow. Now cue our second piece of good fortune - a horrible wet day washed out most of the programme on August 10h, but the Havant Park Riviera missed some of the downpours and as a result of enormous efforts for over four hours of ten Havant members and half a mile of hessian from the local hardware store, the saturated surrounds were mopped up and a 20-point haul from neighbours Liphook & Ripsley obtained. Crucially we were now less than a win behind and the race was well and truly on.

And so the most gripping championship finale in Southern League history began to evolve. The brilliant but inconsistent Bashley duly did the honours on August 17 and turned over BAT down in the Forest. However, one of the most remarkable games in local league history was taking place in parallel on the outstanding surface at Lower Bemerton. Farcically, the top order failed again on a shirtfront (75-5) and it was left to Paul Gover (91*) and Shane Fergusson (42) to turn it round and post an average score of 254. South Wilts were well in the hunt throughout and with Havant's out-cricket showing the scars of a shattering last over defeat the previous day in the ECB Club Championship quarter-final it the previous day, it appeared that we were going to do a "Herschelle" and let the Southern League trophy slip as well. Cue guts. Cue bucketful's of guts. A sensational reverse one-handed catch by the skipper at extra cover turned the tide. Last over, 14 needed. First ball six! Oh no…. Andy Perry holds boundary catch going for six…. Three needed off the last ball, Loat holds his nerve, only one scored. One run victory. Cue relief ... and much lager ! We now needed to win the last two games convincingly as we were only one point clear of BAT Sports. CHAMPAGNE

At last, everything clicked into gear. Batting (at last), bowling (again) and fielding (at last) was top drawer against Burridge and Bournemouth, and the title was regained by the smallest margin in league history. Cue champagne, more lager and major celebration.

The players took time out during the evening to honour the first class off the field support of the Perrys (scoring) and the Jones (catering and groundsmanship) and the outstanding support it had received from the 2nds and 3rds during the year.

So how was the title achieved? Spirit, effort and competitiveness and at least one person in most games showing some personal leadership and doing the business when necessary. Plucky and courageous would be good words to describe the side - something that was always insisted on and shown by triumphant skipper Dom Carson.

The three new additions all contributed. Hobson (36 wickets) brought never before witnessed quality, pace and hostility to the attack. Moynan made important contributions with bat and ball and Snell (218 runs) injected energy and enthusiasm into the side and batted well on several occasions. Runs were evenly distributed, with Perry (454), Hindley (397), Carson (383) and Gover (374) the major contributors. In addition to Hobson, Hindley (26) and Loat (22) were the major wicket takers, with Mark Copping (15) chipping in vital top order dismissals.

2002 will remain in the memory for a long time. An amazing nine close finishes - seven won, one drawn, one lost, tells the story. Tribute to one and all. Roll on 2003 and pursuit of that elusive back to back championship!

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