Hambledon promoted without playing – Purbrook need last-day win against Gosport Borough to avoid relegation to the Hampshire League
Hambledon clinched promotion from Division 3 of the Southern Premier League - without a ball being bowled.
For the second week running their opponents cancelled the fixture; after Hythe & Dibden blamed the pandemic for not playing on August 14, Tichborne Park were unable to raise a team at the weekend.
Such an excuse is virtually unheard of at Southern Premier League level, and Tichborne’s 2nd XI did fulfil a Hampshire League fixture on the same day.
Hambledon have now had seven of their scheduled 17 SPL games cancelled this season - mainly due to bad weather.
They have won nine of the 10 matches that have been completed, though, and will be crowned champions if they pick up three points in their final fixture against Basingstoke & North Hants 2nds this weekend.
Hook & Newnham Basics 2nds are also definitely up after victory over lowly Purbrook.
Purbrook’s seven-wicket loss sees them now requiring a last-day win against Gosport Borough to preserve their SPL status and avoid the drop into the Hampshire League.
If they were to lose to Borough, Hythe & Dibden would leap out of the drop zone and above Purbrook if they beat already doomed Tichborne.
Purbrook’s chances of shocking Hook 2nds were dashed by Liam Shore.
He claimed a career best 6-24 - all the victims being top seven batsmen - as Purbrook were dismissed for 132.
They had slipped to 75-7 before No 8 Dave Cleeve (45) and Aaron Dean (9) added 50 for the eighth wicket.
Josh McCoy (24) was next highest before he became one of the five victims bowled by Shore.
Opener Matthew Love (54 not out) underpinned Hook’s seven-wicket success.
Portsmouth & Southsea moved above Gosport Borough into third place after trouncing them by eight wickets at Privett Park.
Veteran Craig Stares top scored for the hosts with 60 - his highest score since 2016 - as Gosport were restricted to 146-8 (Matt Williams 4-26) after being inserted.
Due to rain, P & S were asked to chase a revised target of 133 in 34 overs.
This was no problem at all, with the winning run coming in the 28th over.
Chris Bollom (31) and Matt Benfield (30) put on 67 for the first wicket before Jack Davies (32 not out) and Tom Benfield (28 not out) shared an unbroken third wicket partnership of 60.
Davies cracked three sixes and two fours in his 25-ball innings.
P & S will finish third if they beat visiting Langley Manor in their final game next weekend.