County prepare for Dorset test

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Hampshire’s strength in depth will be tested again when the Daily Telegraph South Eastern Group League gets under way on Sunday with a home match against Dorset, at Stoneham.

Captain Steve Williams was still waiting to name his eight-man side for the match at his home club.

But he knows that he will be without two key players from the team that lost out to Essex in the league final back in October.

Scott Gregory was set to play in the South East of England Links Championship, being held at Royal St George’s and Royal Cinque Ports over the weekend.

But now it seems the Corhampton ace, who just missed the cut in the Lytham Trophy last week, has made himself available, even though Hayling pair Darren Walkley and Ben Wall are playing the Kent event.

The duo’s absence means Williams can again call upon several players who have stepped up to the plate in the past couple of seasons.

Hampshire have won the South Division title three times in the past six years and also reached the English County Championship Finals twice in that period.

And they came close to making that three at Hankley Common as hosts Surrey slipped home in a tense finale.

But thoughts of the six-man qualifier in July – while very much in Williams’ mind as the season progresses – will be firmly on hold over the weekend.

Hampshire will be seeking their fifth victory over Dorset in the last five years – the visitors’ last win was back in 2006.

Williams is in his second season in charge after being handed the reigns by fellow Stoneham member Richard Elmes.

And he is confident this weekend will be the start of another successful season for the boys in light blue.

He said: ‘We have got a really strong squad so I’m really confident we’re going to be competitive in all the matches we play, starting with Dorset.

‘We are looking to follow up and win the league again and we really want to go one better and win the final

‘We also want to qualify for the nationals – that is our main aim.’

– ANDREW GRIFFIN

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