South Wilts will be anxious not to get caught on the Hop in Sunday lunchtime’s ECB national indoor six-a-side championship semi-finals at Lord’s.
They face Shrewsbury-based Grasshoppers, immediately after Welshmen Neyland have locked horns with Canterbury, the 2011 winners and hot favourites, in the day’s curtain raiser at 11 o’clock.
Playing indoors at the Home of Cricket will be a brand new experience for SW and Grasshoppers, the Pembrokeshire League club Neyland having twice been there before and Canterbury eight years ago when they won it.
“We’ll have the advantage of watching the opening semi-final and tweaking a few tactical things, like precise field placing in what will be a far bigger arena than we’re accustomed to playing in,” said South Wilts captain Rob Pittman.
“It will be the same for both sides, but we’re really excited about playing at Lord’s. We’ve all been there to watch matches, but playing there, even in the indoor school, will be a fantastic experience.”
South Wilts make one change from the side which emerged victorious in the west regional finals at Taunton (where they ousted Cheltenham Civil Service and Exeter University), with Sam Pittman taking over the gloves.
Intriguingly, they line up with two front-line seamers in left-armer Matt Burton and Will Harries, with Rob Pittman and Tom Pearce expected to share six overs of spin.
Utility man Tom Cowley won’t want to be left out of the bowling line up, having taken three Exeter University wickets last time out.
Cowley will have a double reason to shine as Karl McDermott, his former boss at the Ageas Bowl, will be looking on from the Lord’s balcony.
McDermott is now head groundsman at Lord’s, having taken up his position shortly before Christmas.
“It will be good to see him again and, hopefully, tip toe out on to the hallowed Lord’s turf before we play,” Cowley said.
Hampshire’s international groundsman confesses neither he nor his South Wilts team-mates know anything about Grasshoppers, their semi-final opponents.
Based in Shrewsbury and also coming to NW8 for the first time, Grasshoppers principally comprised players from Sentinal CC, who play in the Shropshire County League.
They have reached Lord’s by knocking out Derbyshire champions Spondon, North East Premier League side Tynemouth, and Cherry Willingham, from Lincolnshire, in the Old Trafford regional finals.
South Wilts: Rob Pittman, Tom Pearce, Tom Cowley, Will Harries, Sam Pittman, Matt Burton.
* Admission to Lord’s on Sunday is free.