Portchester welcome talisman Curtis Locke back for their Hampshire League division one top-of-the-table clash against Waterlooville at Rowlands Avenue.
Locke missed last weekend’s game against Ventnor II after injuring his little finger against Rowledge – but returns for the ‘massive’ derby fixture.
The thirty-four-year-old will be reunited with younger brother Richie, 27, who opens the batting for Portchester.
Their joint presence represents a massive boost for the side, and captain Paul Hungerford is delighted he can call on both.
‘Curtis is a big player for us, batting at number three,’ said Hungerford.
‘He was our second-highest run-scorer last season behind our overseas player.
‘Year after year he’s been our most consistent batsman, scoring the most hundreds.
‘Richie is an aggressive opener who strikes the ball well.
‘He had a terrific season a couple of years ago and is looking to get back to that sort of form.
‘They are both very influential for us and having them back is a massive boost.’
Both Portchester and Waterlooville are fancied to challenge for the title this season and have started their bids in fine style – boasting 100-per-cent winning records.
Understandably, Hungerford believes his side are in good shape for what he expects to be their stiffest test so far this term.
Their opening win over Rowledge proved a scrappy affair but they moved into a different gear in their success over a powerful Ventnor side.
‘In the 17 years I have been with the club, that was probably our best bowling and fielding performance,’ said Hungerford.
‘We will need to be at our best again against ’Ville because we know they are a very good side.
‘They are always up and around the top six and we expect them to be challenging again at the end of the summer.
‘Neither of us have been beaten yet so something will have to give.
‘Both teams know each other well so I’m expecting a good game of cricket that could contain a bit of spice.
‘We beat them last year on a wet wicket but we won’t be reading too much into that.
‘Over the past few years it has been pretty even between the two clubs.
‘They have a strong batting line-up but we also bat down as far as number eight so there might not be a lot in it.
‘If we can win then it would be another big scalp and could set us up for the rest of the season.
‘It is early days, though, and I am not going to be looking too far ahead.’
Portchester also have strike bowler Dave O’Neill in good form after taking six wickets against Ventnor.
O’Neill will test the ’Ville batsmen to the full with his unerring accuracy on and around off stump.
‘Ville are also aware of his ability to swing the ball both ways.
Portchester: Steve O’Neill, Richard Locke, Curtis Locke, Andrew Webb, Ed Jordan, Lee Hungerford, Blake Barnwell, Paul Hungerford, Wayne Tolliday, Dave O’Neill, Phil Vincent