Lee Carroll revealed his disappointment at having to miss the Southern Electric Premier League division three promotion decider at Fawley and admitted: I’m missing our biggest game in years.
The luckless skipper damaged ankle ligaments playing football and the injury has ruled him out of the trip as third-placed United Services bid to climb above the second-placed outfit.
But Carroll – who hands over the captaincy to Dominic Carson and passes the wicketkeeper’s gloves to Chris Rait – remains confident his side can still do the job.
‘I’ve been at the club four years and it’s the biggest game I’ve known. I’m gutted to be missing it,’ said Carroll.
‘But we’ve got a strong side out, so we’ve got a really good chance.
‘We’re really pleased with how the season has gone and we need to finish it off.
‘We finished fourth last year but the target all along was to improve on that – or at the very least make sure we were in the top 10 for when they revamp the league next year.
‘This game is massive. If we can win this one, we have got a big chance of going up.
‘They are only just ahead of us on the points average.
‘So whoever loses will take a big hit and is probably out of the promotion race.’
He added: ‘My ankle was pretty painful but it’s more painful having to watch games like this.
‘I’m hoping I will be able to play again before the end of the season, though.’
It’s been a successful campaign for the Burnaby Road side – with eight wins and three defeats from their 11 games.
But perhaps more impressively, they have done it without last year’s leading run-scorer, George Marshall, who left for Totton & Eling.
Carroll said: ‘We lost the best part of 900 runs when we lost George before the season started.
‘We spoke about making sure a few other people stepped up and they have done that really well.
‘It’s been a difficult summer for batsmen, with the weather and the pitches, but we’ve got players who have scored runs.
‘So it’s been a bit more of a team effort this year and the runs have been evenly spread around.
‘But now we would love the chance to test ourselves at the higher level.
‘Looking at some of the sides in that league, I think we are as good, if not better than some of them.’
In the premier division, defending champions Havant travel to champions-elect South Wilts as the format reverts back to 50-over cricket.
Ventnor face a relegation crunch clash at home to Bournemouth.
In division two, second-placed Sarisbury host third-placed Hook & Newnham Basics with a promotion place on the line.
Meanwhile, Burridge entertain Andover and struggling Hambledon visit Hartley Wintney in a crucial relegation battle.
In the third division, Gosport Borough are at home to South Wilts II, Havant II welcome Calmore Sports to Havant Park and Portsmouth make the journey to St Cross Symondians II.