South Wilts’ bid for a fifth successive ECB Southern Premier League crown is up and running with a maximum-point 83-run win over Ventnor at Newclose.
Joe Cranch, pictured by Roy Hollobone, and South Australia teen Jake Winter led the way as South Wilts batted Ventnor out of the game with their 271-9, a total way beyond the island side’s remit.
But James Hayward, who has taken over from Ealing-bound Tom Morton as captain, believes South Wilts were “under par” in their opening defence of the title.
“We’ve played precious little cricket with our pre-season blighted by wet weather, but we did what we needed to do and that was come away with maximum points.
“Everyone is really up for it and happy to play the positive brand of cricket that we've adopted in recent seasons,” he said.
That positivity was evident from the start, even though South Wilts lost teenage opener Will Wade early.
South Australia Under-19 captain Jake Winter had his debut 50 on the board inside ten overs, with South Wilts 85-1 and Jack Mynott going nicely.
“Jake batted superbly, was very positive from start to finish,” Hayward said.
The pair took SW to 114-1, whereupon the defending champions promptly lost thee wickets without addition – Winter (64), Mynott (35) and Hayward himself first ball.
Rob Snell got two of the wickets, but that was as good as it got the Ventnor, who are expected to be among the Premier Division strugglers this summer after continually losing their island-based talent.
Cranch and James Hibberd (29) initiated the recovery – Cranch going on to make 82, including a six and seven fours, and Sam Pittman 25.
“Cranchy continued to be positive and paced his innings excellently, holding it together in the middle superbly. It was a very mature innings,” said Hayward.
Ventnor progressed their reply to 93-2 (Hugh Calloway 42), but their middle-order fell away with Steve Warner (3-52) the most successful of the eight bowlers Hayward employed.
They were eventually dismissed for 188 – South Wilts conceding 40 extras, 29 of them wides.
“I’ll put it down to rustiness for now, but it’s an area we’ll need to improve on before Saturday’s game with the Hampshire Academy,” Hayward warned.