THE Hampshire League division two title race hots up tomorrow as leaders Bedhampton Mariners face closest rivals Easton & Martyr Worthy.
Mariner’s captain Alex Whitfield insists his players are ready for what is a massive game for both teams.
Bedhampton know a win will see them firmly in the driving the seat to take the crown.
‘We are all hungry to get back out there and play in this one,’ said the skipper.
‘It is first versus second with so much at stake.
‘If we win it we will virtually have one hand on the title and it would be a big step towards our promotion target.
‘A win would see us open up a bit of a gap on the chasing teams.
‘We would still have work to do but it would put us firmly in the driving seat.
‘The players showed how keen they are to achieve with the way they bounced back from their first defeat of the season.
‘Losing at Redlynch was possibly the best thing that could have happened to us.
‘Before then we had won a couple very easily, a little bit of complacency set in, and we didn’t perform.
‘The following game at Old Basing was totally different and we won at what is never an easy place to get a result.’
Whitfield believes success so far this season results from a consistent team effort with all making a contribution.
They have only used 13 players all summer and that consistency has also been a vital factor.
The development of bowler Sam Robinson, 18, has also been a boost.
Robinson took six wickets at Old Basing and has proved one of the most improved performers.
‘Sam came to us from Havant at the start of last season,’ said Whitfield.
‘You could see straight away he had talent but was a bit raw and needed nurturing.
‘This season he has come on a bundle and has shown great temperament.
‘At Old Basing he bowled in the right areas, displaying great control.’
One reason for Robinson’s improvement has been the influence of overseas player South African Matt Deyzel.
His coaching and encouragement of the youngster has certainly paid off.
It was a big decision for the Mariners to include an overseas player for the first time for a few years.
‘We decided if we were serious about promotion it was something we needed to do,’ the skipper said.
‘His experience has had a big effect on the rest of the team.
‘It has been a real positive vibe having him around.’
They have also benefited from the arrival of their coach who has implemented a sound structure.
Whitfield added: ‘Our other major change came with the arrival of coach Craig Stainton from Portchester.
‘He has made us a lot more professional in the way we do things.
‘There is now more structure to our game and it is paying off.’
Bedhampton Mariners: Clark, De Jong, Chilton, M Hovey, Cox, Whitfield, Higgins, Sole, Robinson, Deyzel, Gardner