Ben Walker, the all-rounder who helped the club win six Southern Premier League titles, returns to Havant

Havant CC have welcomed back the all-rounder who helped them win six Southern Premier League titles in 11 years.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:48 am
Ben Walker batting for Havant during his first spell at the club. Picture: Mick Young.

Ben Walker, 32, scored over 8,000 1st XI runs for the club between 2006-2017 and claimed 278 wickets in league, cup and friendly matches.

The former Hampshire under-17s skipper was instrumental in Havant winning a hat-trick of SPL titles between 2007-09 and also being crowned champions in 2011, 2016 and 2017.

Walker captained the side in the last of those two title-winning summers prior to joining Bashley ahead of the 2018 season.

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Flashback - Ben Walker lines up for Havant in a T20 game in 2011. Back (from left): Jeremy Bulled, Steve Matthews, Pete Hopson, Tim Jackson, Scott Mills, Steve Dean. Front: Chris Morgan, Ollie Jones, Richard Hindley, Ben Walker, Jez Ord.

An Achilles injury sustained while playing Minor Counties cricket for Dorset saw him miss virtually the whole of that summer, but he returned to win his seventh SPL title in 2019.

Due to his friendship with current Havant skipper Chris Morgan - the pair played together for Hampshire under-17s - Walker has now returned to Havant Park in a bid to add to his sizeable medal collection.

In addition to his league titles, Walker also helped Havant win the SPL T20 competition in 2011 and 2016.

‘Ben was a big part of our successes,’ said director of cricket Jeremy Bulled.

Ben Walker helped Havant to the Southern Electric Premier League and T20 Cup double in 2011. Back (from left): Tim Jackson, Scott Mills, Ben Walker, Stuart Ransley, Steve Matthews, Pete Hopson, Steve Dean. Front: Oli Jones, Chris Morgan, Richard Hindley, Jeremy Bulled, Jeremy Ord. Picture: Mike Vimpany

‘His friendship with Chris has been the driving force to him coming back.

‘He’s a left-hand bat and a right-arm bowler - he used to open our batting and bowling in the same at times.

‘He’ll bat top three, he could open with anyone of Harry Gadd, Pete Hopson or Stuart Ransley.’

Ransley, who has scored almost 7,000 1st XI runs for Havant, made himself unavailable for last summer’s pandemic-shortened SPL campaign due to his wife being pregnant.

He is returning in 2021, meaning Havant’s top order takes on a formidable look with Walker - a former Hampshire youth colleague of his - also back in the frame.

Walker, who had been his Minor Counties debut in 2008 for Wiltshire, was the second highest scorer in the section when he skippered Havant to their last SPL crown in 2017, compiling 602 runs.

The previous year he had finished as the division’s leading runscorer, hitting a superb 739 runs at 67.13 with three centuries and three half-centuries.

Walker scored 131 more runs than the second-highest scorer, Bashley’s Michael Porter, from two fewer visits to the crease.

In that season Walker belted his two highest scores for Havant - 156 and 125, both against Alton.

By that stage, Alton must have been truly sick of the sight of him - in 2015 Walker had bagged 6-24 against them, his career best bowling figures and one of nine occasions when he has taken four or more wickets in a 1st XI league game for the club.

In 2008 Walker was Havant’s second top scorer en route to the title, compiling 581 runs - ex-Hampshire all-rounder Lawrie Prittipaul leading the way with 861.

The following summer, though, Walker was Havant’s top SPL scorer for the first time with 639.

He repeated the feat in 2011 with 689 runs, and was also the club’s leading scorer when they were runners-up in 2014 with 513 runs.