Master batsman Scott Jones returns as Locks Heath look to get their division one title challenge back on track against Portsmouth & Southsea at Warsash Road.
Jones – along with fellow run-maker Alex Richardson – was missing a fortnight ago as his team-mates suffered a first defeat of the season against Portchester.
And with last week’s top-of-the-table clash against unbeaten league leaders Alton II rained-off, Jon Richardson’s side are desperate to get back to winning ways.
‘Having our two highest scorers this season back will only strengthen us further,’ said Richardson.
‘Scott has already amassed over 250 runs and Alex nearly 200 so far this summer.
‘We know we musn’t be too over-reliant on them as a team and the rest of us are there ready to follow their example.
‘Scott finished second in the league’s batting averages last season, batting at number four, and this year we have moved him up to open.
‘He is an aggressive batsman who likes to take the attack to the bowlers, but opening he has managed to rein himself in a bit.
‘So far this season we have been able to build our innings’ around him.
‘Losing our game to the rain at Alton last week was frustrating because it was the perfect game for us after suffering a first loss.
‘We are still right up there and it is how we react to our first defeat that counts.
‘Portchester deserved to beat us and I am looking for a response in both our batting and bowling.’
While the return of his two powerhouse batsmen is great news for Richardson, it doesn’t bode well for the inexperienced Portsmouth & Southsea visitors.
Stand-in captain Matt Smith admits every game is a steep learning curve for his youthful team as they adjust to life back in the Hampshire League after last season’s relegation.
His side are starting to find their feet, though, and he remains optimistic of causing an upset against their high-flying hosts.
‘We go out there looking to win every game and will give it our best shot,’ said Smith.
‘There is a lot of talent in our side and it is just a question of gaining more experience.
‘We have more depth in our batting this week and we know we still need a few more wins to get us comfortable in mid-table.’
The visitors are, however, without key bowler Dave Tiller, whose holiday cruise ship doesn’t arrive back in Southampton until tomorrow afternoon.
They also still have to do without their Portsmouth Grammar School pupils Joe Collings-Wells and Seth Jackson because of their school duties.
In the meantime, much rests upon the shoulders of 27-year-old Dave Upton who has returned to the club this summer after leaving the Royal Navy.
Locks Heath: Jon Richardson, Scott Jones, Chris Boyd, Alex Richardson, Matt Bashford, Jack Paskins, Jack Wills, Dave Bennett, Jack Levy, Sam Read, Dave Lemon
Portsmouth & Southsea: Jack Davies, Olly Zee, Ryan Way, Dave Upton, Matt Benfield, Matt Smith, Alex Fletcher, Rob Evans, Jonno Willey, Kieron Dunstan