Skipper demands Dons are ‘fearless’ on relegation D-day

Hambledon's James Scutt batting during the match with Burridge last weekend. Picture: Sarah Standing (122837-9538)
Hambledon's James Scutt batting during the match with Burridge last weekend. Picture: Sarah Standing (122837-9538)
Action from the 2000 match between Hampshire and Kent - the last played at Burnaby Road

WATCH: Dave Allen's First XI memories of Hampshire cricket in Portsmouth

0
Have your say

Dan Hewitt has told his Hambledon troops to show no fear in their Southern Electric Premier League relegation decider.

The Ridge Meadow outfit travel to bottom club Paultons knowing only a victory will make certain of their spot in division two next term.

And after a mauling at the hands of Burridge last week, Hewitt knows his men must learn from their errors and be positive at Whitemoor Lane if they are to survive.

‘Losing last week was a tough one but the collapse was all too familiar,’ said the skipper, whose side capitulated to 66 all out when set a target of 179 to win.

‘Watching Dessie (Kenway) rip through us by bowling a speed you can drive past schools at was disheartening.

‘We lacked positivity with the bat which we must show in the last game tomorrow.

‘Respect is key but we have got to be fearless.’

A remarkable seven of the 10 sides in division two are still in danger of the drop – albeit New Milton and Burridge, who host third-place Hook, need just one point and eight points respectively to put their safety beyond any doubt.

Only wins will do for the other five sides, though.

While Hewitt faces a nervous final few hours of the season, he reckons the thrilling last day in prospect highlights just how close-fought the division has been this term.

‘It is testament to the level playing field division two has been this year that so much will be decided on the final day,’ said the Dons skipper.

‘Going into the last game with all to play for is going to be a good test for us.

‘While we don’t lack in team spirit, talent or youthful exuberance, a lack of application and experience – and that same exuberance – has left us where we are now.

‘It is in our own hands, though, and that is what you want when you are trying to avoid the drop.

‘We know if we get that winning run or wicket, we don’t have to look over our shoulders.

‘The pressure is on, though, and I believe I have picked the best side for the game.

‘We are one apiece with Paultons this year but I am confident we can step up and win the decider.’

Hewitt has made three changes for the trip to Paultons.

Rob Atkins returns for Will Bond, Rupert Hetherington is in for James Atkinson and Paul Vickers gets the nod ahead of Toby de Mellow.

Sarisbury can do the Dons a favour with victory at second-bottom OTs & Romsey.

David Banks’ men need the win as well to guard against Rowledge pinching the title with defeat of Hartley Wintney.

Andover – the other team below the Dons in the table – host New Milton.

After the division three campaign ended last weekend – along with the Hampshire League season – the only other action is in the top flight.

South Wilts cannot be caught at the top of the table, leaving Havant to scrap for second spot.

Richard Hindley’s men are in pole position, though, as they welcome second-bottom Lymington to Havant Park.

Success will make certain of the runners-up spot, even if Bashley net maximum points from their trip to Hampshire Academy.

At the bottom, Bournemouth need a miracle to survive as they travel to Alton.

That means Ventnor, whose recent form has lifted them to fifth spot, can put a second consecutive season in division one beyond doubt by pocketing just four bonus points at Totton.