The local cricket season, which started in early May, has been hit hard by continual wet weather.
And no club has suffered more than Fareham. Following on from last weekend’s cancellations, the club’s four Hampshire League teams have had more games called off between them than they have actually played.
In all, the four teams have only completed 16 matches - that’s an average of four each in a season which began on the second Saturday in May. Between them, the four teams have had 17 matches postponed due to wet weather and a further four abandoned after they had started.
The club’s 1st XI have only played three of their nine fixtures. Four were postponed due to bad weather, one was abandoned, and another - against Longparish - was cancelled due to positive Covid-19 Tests among their opponents.
Though the season began on May 8, Fareham’s 1st XI didn’t play a game until May 29 - their first three matches all being cancelled. Their last outing was a month ago, on June 12 when they beat Alton seconds.
The 2nd XI, which Stubbs captains, has played five games - just 50 per cent of their scheduled fixtures. Four have been cancelled and another was abandoned.
The 3rd XI have played four games, winning three of them, but seen another four cancelled and one abandoned.
The 4ths are another team who have only played 50 per cent of their games - playing four and having four cancelled.
Fortunately, Fareham firsts did manage to win two of their three games against Andover and Alton, losing heavily at Sway, where left-hand opening batsman and gloveman Tom Kent badly dislocated his left ring finger.
“Apart from the Parley game, where I did the scoring, I’ve not missed a single match, but hope to play against Compton & Chandler’s Ford at Bath Lane on Saturday,” he said.
Though rain is hardly a new problem for amateur cricketers, this season will certainly go down as one of the wettest in modern times.
And following on from last year’s truncated campaign - the local cricket season didn’t begin until mid-July due to the pandemic - the rain has created more financial woes for grassroots clubs.
‘All the members are really frustrated,’ said Stubbs. ‘After last season, everyone was raring to go, the restrictions had been lifted.
‘There’s nothing we can do about the weather, though.
‘It does have a financial impact. All our players pay £10 per game, so that’s £450 in match fees every weekend. Then you’ve got the bar revenue on top of that.
‘We’ve got lots of patio furniture, we get people who wander up, see there’s a game going on and have a drink as well. I’d say, as a quick calculation, it costs the club around £600 every time there’s a wet weekend with no cricket. It’s very frustrating. We’ve got fantastic ground staff but there’s not much you can do when the weather hits.’
Groundsmen Mike Steel and Tony Tucker (now in his 52nd year with the club) have spent countless unpaid hours at Bath Lane preparing pitches that have seldom been used. The ground, though, looks immaculate, probably the best its ever been.
Even if the sun shines from now until the end of August, local clubs have already lost a sizeable portion of their fixtures.
‘We only play 17 league games a season,’ said Stubbs. ‘It’s not like football where you have 38/40 games and can rearrange those that are rained off.
‘We’ve only got four months - May, June, July and August - in which to fit our games in.’
Stubbs said the club’s ambition, prior to the start of this season, was for both the 1sts and 2nds to try and win promotion.
That would take the 1sts back into the Southern Premier League Division 3 and see the 2nds move up to Division 3 South - the third tier of the county league.
In the same division, leaders Hambledon and Gosport Borough have also seen five matches cancelled.
Across the whole fourth tier of the SPL, a remarkable 18 matches have now been cancelled or abandoned due to wet weather - compared to just 16 having been played!
Welcome to an English summer ...
* In a complete turnaround, weathermen reckon mercury will top the 80f mark this weekend, so Fareham & Crofton and friends should get a game in ... that's provided covid doesn't interfere !