Dynamic duo return to haunt Gould & Co

Luke Gould blazed 66 but it was not enough for Fareham & Crofton. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121843-760)
Luke Gould blazed 66 but it was not enough for Fareham & Crofton. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121843-760)
Suzie Bates

Vipers lose as rain puts dampener on home clash

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Dave Tiller has saluted the bravery of Lewis Russell and Matt Smith as the duo inspired Portsmouth & Southsea to a fine win over Fareham & Crofton in division one on Saturday.

Opening bowler Russell lasted just two balls before being forced off with a pulled hamstring.

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Smith broke a finger in the eighth over.

However, both players returned to play a crucial part in the home side’s seven-wicket triumph at St James Hospital.

‘We told them both they had to man up and get back out there,’ said Portsmouth & Southsea skipper Tiller.

‘Poor Lewis (Russell) only bowled two balls.

‘The first was a wide and the second was hit out of the ground for six.

‘Matt (Smith) knew he was in trouble straight away after an Alex Fletcher delivery caught him on the end of the gloves.

‘His finger went blue and he couldn’t move it.

‘Scorer Tim Jacobs strapped it up, though, and sent him back out.’

Matt Benfield took over behind the stumps which left the hosts short of another bowler.

Fareham & Crofton added to the problems for Portsmouth & Southsea by getting off to a flyer after being put in.

They rattled off 115 in the first 12 overs as captain Luke Gould (66) hit the ball all around the ground.

The home side hit back, though. Smith – nursing his broken finger – caught Gould at point off Dean Wilson.

‘If Gould had stayed out there for another 10 overs we would have been in real trouble,’ said Tiller.

‘The ball went straight up in the air and – though it was a straightforward catch – we did wonder if Matt would hold on to it with his finger problem.’

Spurred on by Gould’s wicket, the hosts eventually bowled Fareham out for 258 – with Tiller (two for 31), Wilson (three for 42) and Ash Wallace (three for 54) all taking wickets.

Luckless Jonathan Willey bowled tight without claiming a victim.

‘With our batting on that track I was confident,’ said Tiller.

‘It was definitely a 300 pitch, which was amazing considering it was under water just three weeks ago.’

Openers Wallace (56) and Lee Evans (64) gave Portsmouth & Southsea a dream start with a second consecutive century stand for the first wicket. Despite his hamstring injury, Russell (54) was pushed up the order to three and responded with an excellent knock.

Then Benfield (40 not out) saw Portsmouth & Southsea home with seven overs to spare.

‘If we can keep the team together through the summer we should be there or thereabouts,’ said Tiller

For Fareham & Crofton it was a second successive defeat since their return to the Hampshire League.