Sarisbury Athletic are ready to bite the hand that offered them a promotion lifeline in tomorrow’s Southern Electric division one showdown.
The promotion-chasers owe a big debt of gratitude to neighbours Hambledon, who blew the title race wide open again by defeating previously unbeaten leaders New Milton by five runs last weekend.
Sarisbury went down to the New Forest outfit the week before but stand-in skipper Archie Norris revealed it gave the troops a major lift when they heard the result after their seven-wicket destruction of Hursley Park.
But after text messages were exchanged with some of the Dons players, Sarisbury will now be going out to beat them at Ridge Meadow to further their own cause.
Norris said: ‘Hambledon did us a big favour and it gave us a huge lift when we heard the result.
‘I used to play for Hambledon about 15 years ago so I know a couple of their players very well.
‘I got a message and I sent some congratulations and thanks back.
‘I get on well with them and I think they are a great club.
‘We couldn’t have asked for more from them. We got the result we needed without too much fuss.
‘I did think New Milton would be beaten before the season and it worked out that way.
‘If a few games had gone on without them losing, the pressure would have built up. But an instant loss for them meant we are back to where we were.
‘We certainly won’t be taking anything for granted this weekend but we obviously want to win.
‘Hambledon are a decent side but they are also hard to predict.
‘It just shows they lost convincingly to New Milton earlier in the season and then beat them last week.
‘They are a much better side than they seem to get credit for and their overseas player, Nono Pongolo, is one of the best players in the league.’
Pongolo, who hit 63 with the bat and then took four for 41 with the ball last week, admits a lack of consistency has cost his team any real hope of mounting their own promotion challenge.
He said: ‘It is frustrating that we haven’t found that consistency.
‘We’ve only lost two games where we haven’t turned up.
‘We could easily be higher by just performing a little bit better.
‘We’ve played some really good cricket and some really poor cricket.
‘But we’re still a young side, we’re still learning and hopefully that will help us in the future.’
The Dons are without skipper Ian Turner, with Rob Atkins assuming command, while Sarisbury captain, David Banks, is due back from holiday on the morning of the game and is expected to play.
But Pongolo wants to see his side show no fear after they so nearly threw away victory last week.
He said: ‘Cricket is easier to play when you are on the front foot.
‘When you get behind, that’s when the real character comes out.
‘It’s about standing up to it when things get tough and we know it will be a tough against Sarisbury. We are ready for that.’