HAYLING ISLAND captain Mike Lever is convinced his Hampshire League division one new boys are good enough to survive in the top flight.
The Islanders open their home campaign against Ellingham tomorrow looking to get off the mark after narrowly losing their opening game.
They are missing two key players, Mike Hallett and Sam Thompson, who are both unavailable, but Lever feels he is still able to field a competitive side.
The skipper, however, believes player availability will be the key to surviving in the division.
‘If we have our strongest side available then we can more than hold our own,’ said Lever.
‘We are quite a small club and possibly punching above our weight.
‘There has not been many changes to the team in recent years and it is based mainly on local players.
‘We have not brought in any new faces.
‘Last season we finished third in division two and sneaked into the promotion frame.
‘Our target this summer is to consolidate and aim for a mid-table finish.
‘It is a shame we are going up against Ellingham with a slightly weaker side but we still have some more than capable players out there.’
If Hayling are to succeed much will depend on last season’s leading light, Hallett, having another good season.
In division two he amassed nearly 700 runs as an opening batsman.
Lever is hoping he can continue in such a rich vein of form having stepped up a level.
If Hallett is able to deliver then it will go a long way towards helping Hayling adapt to the higher level.
‘Mike is a big player for us and was the top batsman in the whole league last season,’ added Lever.
‘Technically, he is very good and is a very watchful player.
‘He can accelerate when required and having someone like him in the top order breeds confidence throughout the rest of team.’
Lever can also call upon a potent bowling attack with the likes of Dave Wayman, Rory Prentice and Harry Fenn.
Wayman took three wickets in the opening game at Ropley. He has the ability to get the most out of the new ball with his swing bowling.
Fenn is pacier and Lever is expecting a big year from him.
Prentice is the quickest of them all but won’t be available until he has finished his A levels.
‘Rory is probably the quickest bowler I have faced,’ added the club captain.
‘He played county standard through the younger age groups and will open our bowling when he returns.’
Hayling got within four runs of opening their account with a win at Ropley as they lost a thriller.
With nine wickets down, Wayman (41 runs from 46 balls) and Andy Shayegan (15 not out) almost pulled the win out of the bag with a 48-run last-wicket stand.
‘We lost too many wickets in the middle order but have to be pleased with our start,’ said Lever.
HAYLING ISLAND: Mike Lever, Gary Martin, James Swan,
Jamie Jones, Harry Fenn, Dave Wayman, Rob Cordell,
Freddie Steele, Duncan Brown, Tony Watton, Don Mills