Stalwart keen to avoid first relegation

Sarisbury wicket keeper Dan Clouting
Sarisbury wicket keeper Dan Clouting
Hampshire's James Vince hits a six during the NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, Birmingham. PPP-170309-212743001

Hampshire start T20 Blast campaign against Glamorgan

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Sarisbury Athletic II captain Jon Floyd has never been relegated in 45 years of cricket and is determined not to start now.

The 60-year old leads his team into a crucial Hampshire League division one contest against United Services at Burnaby Road tomorrow.

Floyd is proud of his record and knows there is a lot at stake as the two relegation-threatened teams go head- to-head.

Sarisbury have struggled in their first season in the top flight but Floyd is confident they can maintain their status.

‘I don’t know what it feels like to be relegated and don’t want to find out either,’ said Floyd.

‘We need to be playing at this level otherwise there will be too big a gap between us and our senior side.

‘It took us a long time to get promotion and it would be a disaster to go straight back down again.

‘We know just how difficult it can be to get back up and don’t want that.

‘As a club we have come a long way – arguably, from a small village team to one of the biggest set-ups in the county.

‘With only three weeks to go the winner of this game can give themselves a real chance of staying up.

‘The stakes are high.

‘Nothing is guaranteed but this is a game neither team wants to lose.’

Sarisbury boosted their chances with a welcome win over Locks Heath last weekend.

Services also picked up an excellent win at New Milton II, so both teams can go into this weekend’s game with confidence.

With other teams at the bottom also starting to find form, a nail-biting finish is expected.

Floyd believes his side’s strong batting line-up can be the key to their survival.

Opener Lewis Mitchard is hitting form at the right time, with his crisp 65 helping see off Locks Heath.

The return of 30-year-old Sam 
Freemantle has boosted the middle order and he has already hit two centuries this summer.

Lower down, Dan Clouting has lived up to his name by amassing 180 runs from his past four innings.

Teenager Josh Stewart-Hill has also helped the Sarisbury tail wag at times, including a fantastic 75 against Bournemouth earlier this season.

It is with the bowling that Floyd has more concerns.

‘We have to be far more disciplined with our bowling,’ said Floyd.

‘Losing Sam Floyd to the senior side won’t help.

‘It means three of us will have to come in and make up his 10 overs.’

A lot will rest on the shoulders of those three, Floyd senior, Michael Bond and Chris Mottolla, who are all spin bowlers.

‘Both teams need the win with it hotting up at the bottom,’ said Floyd.

‘We don’t want to be in a situation having to win when we go into our final game in two weeks’ time.’

Sarisbury Athletic II: Jon Floyd, Lewis Mitchard, Tom Farley, Sam Freemantle, Dan Clouting, Michael Bond, Josh Stewart-Hill, Colin Day, Sean O’Toole., Tom Kitcher