United Services Portsmouth have a new spring in their step after starting their Hampshire League division two campaign with two successive wins.
Matt Easton’s side stormed to a 109-run win over Compton & Chandlers Ford at Burnaby Road.
After a few seasons of struggle, culminating in relegation last year, Services are showing signs that they have turned the corner.
Easton wants to take the club back into the premier division, where he feels they belong.
For the time being, though, the captain is happy to consolidate and aim for a top-five finish.
‘I have to be very happy with the way we have started,’ said Easton.
‘We could easily have suffered a bit of a hangover after being relegated but that hasn’t been the case.
‘Everyone has started at the top of their game.
‘We had a good recruitment drive during the summer and picked up some very capable players.’
Easton won the toss and his openers Harry Gadd (77) and Tom May (25) justified his decision with a solid 60-run opening partnership.
After a stop-start period Aussie teenage prospect Matt Rodgers (54), over to watch the Ashes series, quickened the pace in the middle order.
Services were happy to finish on 224 for six after their 50 overs, with their young batsmen catching the eye.
‘It was a pity that we missed out on the final batting point,’ said Easton.
When the visitors replied it was time for veteran bowler, 48-year-old Fraser Quirke, to take the limelight with two early wickets.
Apart from a breezy 71 runs from their number four batsman the visitors were never in contention.
Easton believes he has the perfect mix of youth and experience that will enable his team to have their best season for a few years.
‘Our opening bat Harry (Gadd) is only 15 years old but is a great young prospect,’ said Easton.
‘He opened the batting for us last year and possesses the quality and confidence to do that for us.
‘I trust him to go out and do the job and he does it well.
‘He is also a very good bowler but because of the bowling attack we have, he gets limited chances in that area.
‘Matt (Rodgers) has come to us for Canberra and he looks a useful acquisition.
‘He never looked in any trouble and the way he bats is very pleasing on the eye.
‘His innings was a sensible one with shots that found the gaps in the field.
‘At the other end of the age-range we have Fraser (Quirke) who we refer to as our “senior pro.”
‘You know exactly what you are going to get from him with his tight line and length seam up bowling.
‘He has shortened his run up but remains just as effective.’