Batting will be key for Benfield in title chase

Matt Benfield, left, has been struggling to bowl due to an injury
Matt Benfield, left, has been struggling to bowl due to an injury
Tom May batting for United Services. Picture: Mick Young

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MATT BENFIELD is confident this will finally be the year Portsmouth & Southsea crack the Hampshire League division one promotion code.

The St James’s Hospital based side travel to lowly Hythe & Dibden with five straight wins under their belts.

They have made a flying start, though, personally it has been a frustrating period for all-rounder Benfield who is struggling to bowl because of a rib muscle problem.

‘So far I have only managed 20 overs and I am looking at up to six weeks out,’ said Benfield.

‘Basically I am in pain every time my delivery stride hits the crease.

‘Fortunately I can still run around in the field and bat.

‘I have been spending my time in the nets focusing on my batting, cutting out the little errors that get you out.

‘As a bowler I get 60 balls to get it right, as a batsman it only takes one mistake and you are gone.’

Benfield’s extra time in the nets appears to be paying off as he played a leading part in Portsmouth & Southsea’s latest win over Hook and Newnham Basics.

Chasing 179 to win Jack Davies gave the hosts a flying start scoring 47 runs in 50 balls including nine fours.

The loss of two wickets in quick succession, however, pinned them back.

But the two Benfield brothers, Matt and Tom soon calmed the nerves with a 73-run partnership.

Matt Benfield made 53 before he was eventually bowled.

But his half century had set his team on their way to another maximum points haul.

In recent years Portsmouth & Southsea have promised much but always fallen short in the final reckoning.

Benfield believes the side now possesses the strength in depth needed to prevent that from happening again.

He’s expecting the team to show high standards in every match and thinks that with the talented squad they have they will be very difficult for any side to beat.

‘I will be disappointed if we lose more than two games all summer,’ said Benfield.

‘In fact, with the strength that we have in the side we could even go unbeaten.

‘So far this season we have been dominant in all departments in every game and no-one has really pushed us.

‘We have taken 40 wickets in four games and knocked off the required runs with the minimal loss of wickets.

‘It is a big statement to the teams who still have to play us.’

Keiron Dunstan’s side will need to make readjustments to their bowling for their trip down the Waterside to Jones Lane.

Apart from Benfield’s absence the bowling attack has also been hit by an injury to Jake Peach.

Peach pulled up with a hamstring problem after seven overs against Hook and will face a fitness test.

Aussie Shaun Briggs who bowled 10 overs in that game is also away on holiday which means Ben Saunders and Dunstan will have to shoulder more of the responsibility.

Portsmouth & Southsea: Davies, Smith, M Benfield, T Benfield, Cleary, Kanavan, Saunders, Peach, Turrell, Dunstan, Willey