Portsmouth & Southsea return is shock to Benfield’s system

Portsmouth & Southsea's Matt Benfield. Picture: Sarah Standing (141477-5185)
Portsmouth & Southsea's Matt Benfield. Picture: Sarah Standing (141477-5185)
Tom Kent

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Matt Benfield was given a rude awakening when he returned to action for Portsmouth & Southsea on Saturday.

The all-rounder took part in the 45th anniversary Hampshire League match against Hayling Island at Hayling Park.

Only six weeks ago he was basking in the sunshine and playing on the hard, fast wickets of South Africa.

So the wet and freezing conditions at Hayling Park were something of a shock to Benfield.

However, the Portsmouth & Southsea talent was happy to get going again after his short break.

And he is hoping his winter in the southern hemisphere will pay dividends as his side make a return to the Southern League.

‘It was a fantastic experience out in Durban,’ said Benfield.

‘I played weekend cricket for Hollywood Bets Crusaders and spent midweek at the academy.

‘While we were out there Glamorgan and Hampshire came out for pre-season and we got involved a lot with them.

‘It was great weather and we played a good standard of cricket.

‘Conditions were a lot different to the slow puddings of pitches we get in this country.

‘In one game I faced South African international spin bowler Imran Tahir.

‘The lads said before I went out to face him you could pick what he bowls from his hand.

‘He bowled so fast and flat that before I knew it he had rapped me on the pads five times.

‘But I feel my own game will only be better for the experience of playing against different players in a totally different environment.

‘Also as a mentor in the club, hopefully I can pass on some of my experiences.

‘The timing of the trip was perfect with Portsmouth & Southsea heading back into the Southern League.’

Benfield is relishing the challenge of playing at a higher level.

He feels his side are well equipped to flourish against the better opposition.

Royal Navy all-rounder Rob Wigley has joined.

Portsmouth & Southsea coach Paul Barsby is Wigley’s coach in the naval side.

He encouraged Wigley to join the St James’s Hospital-based club.

Wigley took three wickets in the anniversary match and scored a useful unbeaten 15 with the bat.

Opening batsman Ollie Kanavan was the star performer, though.

He scored an impressive 40 on the difficult track.