Dan’s the man with a bright Burridge future

Burridge skipper Rick Ankers   Picture: Sarah Standing
Burridge skipper Rick Ankers Picture: Sarah Standing
Rhidian Chapman. Picture Ian Hargreaves (170744-1)

Crucial Dons win can inspire survival charge

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Rick Ankers is ‘cautiously confident’ Burridge can see off the challenge of Alton in the Southern League premier division tomorrow.

But the home skipper has warned his Botley Road side the visitors have the quality in their ranks to hurt them.

Burridge are looking to build on their impressive opening-day success against Hampshire Academy.

That saw highly-rated bowler Dan Stancliffe grab headlines with a brilliant five-wicket haul.

And Ankers believes the visit of Alton will pit two of the division’s best against each other when ‘star of the future’ Stancliffe battles prolific wicket-taker Julian Ballinger.

He said: ‘Dan could finish in the top three or four wicket-takers in the league.

‘He is a Southern League premier division star of the future, that is for sure – if he is not already.

‘His bowling has been improving with every game and his batting is getting better as well.

‘Alton, though, are a good side and their captain, Scott Myers, is one of the best players in the league.

‘They also have Julian Ballinger who got 40-odd wickets or something ridiculous last year and is a really good bowler, so we have to be cautious.

‘But it is not about them, it is more about us and we just have to make sure we play to our own strengths.

‘We are looking forward to it – we are cautiously confident.’

While Ankers believes the hosts can record back-to-back victories to start the new campaign, he is not setting his sights on anything higher than survival – for the time being at least.

Burridge’s skipper, though, expects the 10-team division – won by South Wilts the last four seasons – to be more open this time out following the departure of star man Tom Morton.

The former South Wilts talisman left the Salisbury club to become director of cricket at Ealing in Middlesex.

Ankers said: ‘Our ambition is to aim for ninth and as soon as we know we are going to finish ninth, then to aim higher.

‘Ultimately, from our point of view it is no different to a Premier League football manager who has just come up a few seasons ago and is looking for enough points to stay up and then build from there.

‘There are a lot of teams in this league who can beat each other.

‘The loss of Tom Morton is massive for South Wilts – that could make it a bit more even across the board.

‘It will drag them back into the realms of sensibility.’

Ankers expects to name an unchanged side from last weekend with Joe Collings Wells (66) and Cape Town all-rounder Geoff Dodds (72) looking to continue their good work with the bat.

Hampshire man Ryan Stevenson, who has agreed to play in the Southern League when available, is instead in action for Devon.