Anniversary party as Hayling face Portsmouth & Southsea

Matt Benfield, left, has been out in South Africa during the winter
Matt Benfield, left, has been out in South Africa during the winter
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HAYLING ISLAND will take on Portsmouth & Southsea tomorrow with a match to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Hampshire Cricket League.

On April 28, 1973 the first ever Hampshire League division one fixture took place at Hayling Park between the two teams.

The two clubs are marking the occasion with a repeat of that original fixture at Hayling Park (2pm).

In the original game Noel Fisher, the league chairman, bowled the first ball – recorded as an amiable long hop, delivered left arm around the wicket.

Portsmouth & Southsea went on to win by 16 runs, with seven balls remaining.

Steve Munday and Paul Winsor top scored for the winning side, while Hayling Island’s top scorer was Portsmouth footballer Harry Harris.

Tomorrow the first ball will be bowled by vice-chairman Philip Wilson.

He said: ‘Like my predecessor I also bowl left-arm around the wicket but hopefully I won’t send down a long hop.

‘Hayling are also officially opening their new pavilion so it is a smashing way to start the new season.’

The league began in earnest on May 12, 1973, with 64 teams in five divisions.

A historic change occurred at the end of 2001, when the three famous Leagues – the Hampshire Cricket League, the Hampshire Combination Cricket League and the New Forest Cricket League came together to form the new Hampshire Cricket League.

The league continues to evolve and they are looking for the best structure to reward ambitious clubs without harm to others, bringing more young cricketers into the game, finding more umpires and scorers, while continuing the improvement of pitches and facilities.

For visitors Portsmouth & Southsea it is an important part of their preparations for life back in division three of the Southern League.

Skipper, Keiron Dunstan is confident his team can thrive back at the higher level.

He said: ‘We had a fantastic season last year and are looking to keep the momentum going from that.

‘At the end of last summer we finished with seven successive wins.

‘Obviously we know that it is going to be tougher against better opponents.

‘We are really feeling positive about things. If we can make a flying start we can put pressure on the top teams.

‘There is a buzz about the club and we feel we can be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.’

Dunstan and his team-mate Matt Benfield have been playing in South Africa throughout the winter.

HAYLING ISLAND: Mike Hallett, Mike Lever, Josie Wells, Ryan Atkins, David Gorvin, Rhys Freeman, Jay Longhurst, Richie Poole, Dave Wayman, Freddie Steel

Portsmouth & Southsea: Jack Davies, Shaun Briggs, Matt Benfield, Tom Benfield, Jake Peach, Oliver Kanavan, Tom Farnworth, Ben Saunders, Keiron Dunstan, Chris Turrell, Jonathan Willey