David Banks believes his Sarisbury Athletic side’s quest for the Southern Electric Premier League division one title has not been affected by their opening-day loss.
Athletic went down to a 109-run loss to Basingstoke & North Hants and saw their hopes of bouncing back at Hook & Newnham undone by the weather last week.
Sarisbury were in good shape at 217 for six in damp conditions, before a heavy downpour saw the game abandoned.
Banks’ side host Andover tomorrow – another side tipped to be involved in the promotion race.
But the Sarisbury skipper expects a far more open battle for glory in division one this season after the two-horse race with Burridge last term.
‘I think it will be a really tough league this year,’ said Banks.
‘I think the team that wins the league will lose four or five games.
‘There are a lot of good sides. It’s different in that respect to previous years.
‘Last year we lost to Burridge and we lost the league but this year there are some very useful sides.
‘I think Basingstoke, Andover, Bournemouth, New Milton and ourselves will all be challenging.
‘There will be a lot of twists and turns to come.
‘It certainly won’t be a two-horse race as it was last year.’
Banks saw his men come unstuck in their curtain-raiser in 2012 but then went on a long unbeaten run to claim the title.
He said: ‘Two years ago we did exactly the same and lost our first game but we came back and went on to win the league.
‘But we don’t want to be in a position where we’ve lost two games early on and we are playing catch-up, so it’s a massive game for us against Andover this weekend.
‘It’s a shame because we were in a good position last week at Hook before the rain came down and a big downpour finished it.
‘We batted well and I fancied us to go on and win that game, which would have given us a good boost.
‘But it was a big improvement on the first game.
‘There were too many wickets given away that day and we didn’t bowl and field as we can.
‘We played a strong Hampshire Academy side in pre-season where we bowled and fielded really well.
‘But all of a sudden we lost all discipline with the ball.
‘They shouldn’t have got 225 and then too many people gave their wickets away.
‘I suppose a lack of cricket was a lot of it but they just looked better drilled to be honest.
‘They executed their plans and we didn’t.
‘But we looked like we were back on track last week and we will be looking for more of the same against Andover to get us up and running.’
Elsewhere in division one, Hambledon attempt to get their league season started at the third time of asking with a home clash against Hook & Newnham Basics.
The Dons have managed just seven overs of league cricket and were 20 without loss at Basingstoke last weekend when the rain arrived.
They did, however, progress in their National Village Cup round two fixture as they defeated host Eversley by six wickets on Sunday.