Portchester captain Tom Adams is predicting opening batsman Rich Locke will play a key role in his side’s Hampshire League division one promotion push.
Locke, who finished second in the top-flight’s batting averages last season with more than 600 runs, has made a relatively quiet start to this summer.
While opening partner Andrew Webb has grabbed the headlines, Locke has remained consistently steady.
He is yet to make any big scores but Adams reckons it is just a matter of time before he produces a telling innings.
‘Rich has looked good but we are still waiting for a big innings from him,’ said Adams.
‘He is the sort of player you know is going to score runs for you.
‘We have some high-profile derby games coming up and it would be just like him to get the runs in the high-profile games.
‘At St Cross last week Rich showed signs that he isn’t far away with some fearless hitting.
‘His first three scoring shots were all sixes.
‘Rich has always shown that if he is given half a chance he will go after the bowling early on.
‘He is always looking to hit straight and is a big player for us.’
Unbeaten Portchester are eyeing up a fifth consecutive win this weekend as they entertain lowly Hook & Newnham Basics II.
Adams’ team have looked impressive so far and it would be a major disappointment if they failed to keep their winning run going.
At St Cross, however, they did show their first signs of fallibility with a middle-order collapse, after being put into bat.
Webb and Locke gave them a good start before a succession of wickets left them in massive trouble on 130 for nine.
The cavalry arrived in the shape of 17-year-old wicketkeeper Hayden Sole and bowler Dave O’Neil.
Together they put on a 64-run partnership for the final wicket to dig their side out of a hole.
‘There is no doubt they got us out of trouble,’ said Adams.
‘Not only did they get us up to a score we felt we could defend, it also boosted our confidence.
‘It put us back on the front foot.’
In reply, St Cross started well, reaching 61 for four.
But helped by some outstanding fielding, Portchester soon had their hosts in all sorts of trouble.
In the end, the hosts were dismissed for just 91 runs, with the impressive Lee Hungerford (five for 13) and Blake Barnwell (four for nine) tearing them apart.
‘Our fielding was outstanding that day and we didn’t drop a catch – even though none of them were easy,’ said Adam.
‘In fact, we have pretty much taken all our catches since day one of the summer. With five wins in the bag it is looking good, but we have some big local derby tests ahead of us.’
Portchester: Andrew Webb, Rich Locke, Curtis Locke, Tom Adams, Blake Barnwell, Steve O’Neil, Paul Hungerford,
Lee Hungerford, Harry Robbins, Hayden Sole, Dave O’Neill
– kevin ricketts