Portchester have discovered a new Hampshire League division one strike bowler – by accident!
Overseas player Andy Webb arrived at the club as a keeper-batsman.
But the Australian took his chance to display his skills with the ball last weekend – taking five wickets against Lymington II.
Now Webb is expecting the club to utilise his bowling talents again as they host Old Basing at Cams School tomorrow.
No-one is more surprised about his switch in role than the 22-year-old from Melbourne, though.
‘If I pick the ball up to bowl in the nets back home I am told to clear off and put the keepers gloves on,’ said Webb.
‘I bowled in a midweek friendly a couple of weeks ago and did alright but didn’t think anymore of it.
‘Against Lymington I turned up fully expecting to carry on behind the stumps until one of the bowlers dropped out at the last minute.
‘They drafted another wicketkeeper in from the seconds and gave me a bowl.
‘I don’t mind what I do – I’ll be quite happy to keep wicket and then change part way through the game to bowl.
‘Being young and fit I can handle doing that.’
Webb destroyed the Lymington II batting with five for 19 after coming on as first-change bowler.
Portchester won by seven wickets – providing the perfect confidence-booster after a disastrous loss to league leaders Waterlooville.
Against Ville, Portchester contributed to their own downfall with poor fielding and brittle batting.
They dropped Ville’s leading run-getter at least four times and were then bowled out for under 100 chasing a big total.
After winning their opening two games, that defeat came as a huge shock.
And it was important Portchester bounced straight back.
Dave O’Neill was delighted with the response and particularly the added bonus of Webb’s bowling.
‘Our midweek captain informed us he was pretty sharp with the ball, so we thought we might experiment,’ said the vice-captain.
‘It’s not a bad experiment when you end up with five wickets and he is probably the fastest bowler in the club.
‘I should imagine he would be very disappointed if he doesn’t get another chance to bowl after that.’
O’Neill is looking for another positive performance from his team against Old Basing, who are at the lower end of the league table.
His team have bowled well so far this season but their batting has left a little to be desired. Only once have they scored more than 150.
But O’Neill knows his side are capable of making big scores in the first division.
Webb hit an unbeaten 61 in the opening game and both the Locke brothers, Rich and Curtis, are proven runscorers.
There were signs against Lymington, with Rich Locke (32) and Lee Hungerford (29 not out) that they are starting to find their touch.
‘Our batsmen just need a little more time at the wicket,’ said O’Neill.
Portchester: Rich Locke, Steve O’Neill, Curtis Locke, Andrew Webb, Ed Jordan, Lee Hungerford, Paul Hungerford, Blake Barnwell, Scott Elson, Andrew Fole, Dave O’Neill