Culture change is paying off for ambitious Bedhampton
Bedhampton Mariners have a great chance to extend their unbeaten start in Hampshire League division two as they host rock-bottom Petersfield at Bidbury Mead.
Alex Whitfield knows on paper his team should prove too powerful for the visitors but he has warned against any complacency.
The skipper is keen to see his side build on their great start – with promotion the number-one priority.
There has been a change in approach at the club, which Whitfield believes is already starting to pay dividends.
‘Our long-term aim is to achieve Southern League cricket, whether that takes three years or five years,’ he said.
‘To do that a lot of things need to be done.
‘We have made a start by taking a more serious approach to the way we prepare and play the game.
‘During the winter we trained hard and have carried that forward into the season.
‘That is something that has not happened before.
‘Now we all turn up on time and warm up properly.
‘In the past we probably had seven strong players with the rest coming in to help us out by making the numbers up.
‘This summer all 11 players are what you would term first-team players.
‘We also have taken the big step of bringing in an overseas player to help with our development.
‘The next big step for us is to initiate a structure for colts cricket at the club.
‘All these things are designed to help the club progress to the next level.’
Whitfield could not have wished for a better start – with the Mariners winning all four games played.
Boosted by the presence of South African Matt Deyzel – a 6ft 6in strike bowler – Bedhampton have so far proved too strong for their opponents.
Deyzel, from Port Elizabeth, has already got among the wickets, including four against Totton & Eling II in Bedhampton’s latest success.
He played in the Derbyshire League last season but is now enjoying life on the south coast.
‘He has shown a good habit of ripping through our opponents top-order batting,’ added Whitfield.
‘Having someone like Matt around adds to the professionalism.
‘It seems to be paying off because we have only dropped two points so far this season.’
At Totton, Bedhampton amassed more than 300 runs.
Whitfield (79 not out), Martin Hovey (64), Benny de Jong (49) and Alex Cox (60) all cashed in against the Southampton outfit.
And the skipper regarded the result as a bit of a marker.
‘It was only a couple of seasons ago Totton & Eling II were playing Southern League cricket,’ said Whitfield.
‘That is where we are aiming for in the long term.
‘For now, though, there is still a lot of cricket to be played.
‘And the focus must be on beating Petersfield tomorrow.’
BEDHAMPTON: Clark, De Jong, Chilton, Hovey M, Cox, Whitfield, Sole, Higgins, Robinson, Deyzel, Gardner