Walker out to stay in the runs

Ben Walker. Picture: Mick Young
Ben Walker. Picture: Mick Young
Action from the 2000 match between Hampshire and Kent - the last played at Burnaby Road

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Ben Walker has been backed to build on his return to form.

The Havant all-rounder hit a fine 95 in last week’s draw with Totton & Eling – only his second half-century of the season so far.

But while the big runs have been hard to come by, player-coach Pete Hopson believes he has not had the rewards for his efforts.

And ahead of tomorrow’s home showdown with neighbours Burridge, Walker could be a key man in piling the pressure on fellow title-chasers South Wilts.

Hopson said: ‘Ben has batted beautifully for the past few weeks.

‘He was fantastic last week and everything seemed to come out of the middle of the bat.

‘It was a great knock and just a shame he didn’t get a century because he fully deserved it.

‘He pulled a hamstring the week before but the longer he batted, the less of a problem it seemed to be.

‘He put down the foundation and everyone else batted around him. Harry Hovey came in and batted really well, too.

‘But Ben will be looking to pick up where he left off.’

Elsewhere in the top flight, Ventnor visit Lymington.

Nono Pongolo appears to have shaken off a hamstring concern to take his place in Hambledon’s division one home clash with Andover.

The South African all-rounder has pushed his body to its limit with some serious physical efforts recently.

But he came through last week’s defeat to Hook & Newnham Basics and has declared himself back at peak condition.

Vice-captain Rob Atkins said: ‘We were all worried about him for a while.

‘But Nono has had some physiotherapy and a rub-down and that seems to have done the trick.’

In division two, Portsmouth travel to table-toppers Rowledge eager to arrest a worrying run of form that has seen them crash to five straight defeats.

Elsewhere in the division, Havant II travel to Sparsholt.

In division three, relegation-threatened Portsmouth & Southsea travel to league leaders Tichborne Park.