Top wicket-taker back to boost P&S attack

Alex Fletcher returns for Portsmouth & Southsea this weekend   Picture: Nigel Kenny

Alex Fletcher returns for Portsmouth & Southsea this weekend Picture: Nigel Kenny

Giles White

White expected a big impact from new recruits

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The return of Portsmouth & Southsea strike bowler Alex Fletcher will present Fareham & Crofton’s batting with another tough examination in their Hampshire League division one clash at St James Hospital.

Fletcher, the league’s leading wicket-taker last season, missed his side’s opening win because he was sitting exams at Nottingham University.

But he is free to travel back from the midlands this weekend and is raring to get his campaign started.

Portsmouth & Southsea opened up with an impressive eight-wicket win at Midhurst.

But captain Dave Tiller is expecting a far tougher test from relegated Fareham & Crofton, who lost to Purbrook.

‘This won’t be an easy game and it is good to have Alex back to boost our attack,’ said Tiller.

‘Rob Evans didn’t do anything wrong in his place last week but I explained that we couldn’t leave our leading wicket-taker out.

‘The fact that Alex is prepared to come all the way back down to play for us shows he is keen.

Fletcher added: ‘Fareham & Crofton’s captain Luke Gould is a very good cricketer and he will have his team fired up after making a losing start last week.’

Portsmouth & Southsea avoided relegation only on the final day of last season but already look in far greater shape after just one game.

New openers Ash Wallace and Lee Evans gave notice on their debut that they could make a mark this summer with an impressive opening stand of 177 runs.

Overseas player Wallace recorded an unbeaten 112, with an innings that displayed real quality, to help his side chase down a target of nearly 200 with ease.

Fareham & Crofton will be keen to chalk up a first win back in division one and last week’s defeat by Purbrook was a blow to their hopes of making a quick return to the Southern Electric League.

But their skipper, Luke Gould, believes his side can make a quick recovery.

‘Despite losing, I felt there were a number of positives we could take from the game,’ said Gould.

‘We had plenty of intensity and effort in the field but our batting fell about 20 runs short.’

Portsmouth & Southsea: Ash Wallace, Lee Evans, Matt Benfield, Matt Smith, Alex Fletcher, Harsh Patel, Rush Patel, Dave Tiller, Jonothan Willey, Dean Wilson, Lewis Russell.

FAREHAM & CROFTON: Luke Gould, Ed White, Ben Kissane, Brent Jarvis-Spinks, Dan Berry, Gary Wylde, Chris Davey, Tim Dicks,

Bob Marchant, Danny Durant, Chris Hillier.

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