Career best figures for Reuben McArdle as Portsmouth lift curtain on Southern Premier Cricket League season in style at Sparsholt

There were a trio of impressive performances as Portsmouth CC lifted the curtain on their Southern Premier League Division 1 season in style.

By Simon Carter
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 1:50 pm

Opening bat Richard Warner struck 84 on only his second league appearance for the club while debutant Steve Warner - no relation - produced a flurry of boundaries on his way to a rapid half-century.

Then, with Sparsholt asked to chase 282 for victory, Reuben McArdle bagged a career best 6-31 as the hosts were dismissed for 130.

McArdle’s previous league best figures were 4-18 against Sarisbury four years ago. Last year, he only took eight wickets in 17 SPL appearances.

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Richard Warner hits a boundary on his way to 84 against Sparsholt. Picture by Bob Selley.

New Portsmouth skipper Ben Duggan had elected to bat first, but his innings lasted only eight balls at the top of the order before he was out for six.

But opening partner Richard Warner - keeping wicket following the loss of Alex Hammond - held the top order together.

No 3 James Mitchell - a regular for the 2nds in 2021 - hit 29 and former skipper James Christian made 20. Debutant Dan Wimble - a consistent run-maker for Fareham & Crofton in the Hampshire League in recent times - batted at No 6 and made 13.

Portsmouth were 131-5 when Wimble was dismissed. But that brought Steve Warner - appointed the club’s head coach in the close season after leaving South Wilts, where he had been a proven Premier League performer - to the crease.

Warner proceeded to thump five sixes and five fours in a 64-ball 69 - an early sign of how vital a player he could be to Portsmouth’s ambition of promotion back to the SPL top flight for the first time since the late noughties.

The two Warners added 89 for the sixth wicket, giving the innings much-needed impetus. With tailender Henry Woolf hitting an unbeaten 22, Portsmouth closed on 281-8 - the highest opening day score by any club across the four SPL divisions.

It was certainly much too good for Sparsholt, whose reply began badly when Will Berrill was caught behind by Richard Warner off the bowling of namesake Steve first ball.

The latter returned 1-17 off a three-over stint - taking the new ball with another debutant, Ashan Silva - before McArdle was introduced as first change.

He picked up his first three wickets in quick succession, Sparsholt tumbling from 30-1 to 32-4.

Skipper David Banks (57) provided the main resistance before McArdle took three more wickets for six of the (career) best.

Last–wicket pair Ash Lovell (14) and Ollie Williams (12 not out) put on 30 for the last wicket - the highest stand of the innings - before Steve Warner was brought back into the attack. The impact was instant - Lovell bowled first ball!