Hopson’s Havant hope

Ben Walker, centre. Picture: Mick Young (141098-06)
Ben Walker, centre. Picture: Mick Young (141098-06)
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Pete Hopson believes Havant will be involved in another head-to-head with South Wilts for the Southern Electric Premier League crown this season.

Havant were pipped to the title by just six points in an exciting finish to the campaign as they went down to their rivals on the final day.

We have got some clever cricketers who know how to win games

Pete Hopson

But the player-coach saw his side get off to a flying start at Ventnor last week with a convincing seven-wicket success and host Burridge tomorrow.

And even if some think Havant will not feature in the battle for trophies this time, Hopson is happy to be part of a team of supposed underdogs.

Hopson said: ‘I’ve seen some suggestions that South Wilts are favourites and Bashley are second favourites. That is absolutely fine by us.

‘South Wilts might have set a record score last week but we came away with maximum points.

‘We have got some clever cricketers who know how to win games.

‘It’s not always about huge totals but about winning the game in the best way possible and having that intensity.

‘I think it will be us and South Wilts again and if Bashley can get their best side out, they will be up there as well.

‘But we respect all of the teams and there are some really good players throughout the league. There will not be any easy games.’

Havant certainly did that last week with Ben Walker and Brad Wheal turning in impressive displays in a good bowling display to set up the win.

Hopson said: ‘We made the most of bowling first.

‘Ben Walker bowled absolutely brilliantly. He bowled into a howling gale and ended up with incredible figures.

‘And you can tell Wheal has got some wheels!

‘He is a quick bowler and certainly had some of the Ventnor batsmen worried.

‘Against Burridge last year, we did well to get rid of Derek Kenway early and we bowled really well that day.

‘They’re trying to build for the future with a few new faces so it will be interesting to see their impact.’

Steve Matthews is unavailable, with Jez Ord in line to replace him.

Elsewhere in the premier division, Sarisbury Athletic have agreed to switch their home clash with Hampshire Academy to the Ageas Bowl nursery ground while the repairs are carried out on their pitch.

David Banks’ side kicked off the season with a thrilling tie with Alton, after playing their home fixture at Hursley Park because their own ground was made unplayable after sand was dumped on the outfield.

Banks believes his men will finally be able to get back to their home venue for the next scheduled fixture.

He said: ‘It’s all been reseeded this week and we’ve got two weeks until we are due to play there again.

‘They are pretty confident it will be ready for that.

‘It is not looking quite so much like a beach, which is a good thing!

‘We had a good game last week and probably should have won. But it’s all a learning curve.

‘The Academy bowlers went for a few runs and were well beaten by South Wilts last weekend but they still have some quality young players.’

Ventnor make the trip to St Cross.

Havant also start their ECB Royal London Club Championship quest with Sunday’s trip to Middleton (1pm).

Burridge visit Basingstoke & North Hants as Ventnor host Lymington.