Hambledon’s Matt De Villiers sets new Southern Premier League run record – and there’s still three weeks of the season left!

Matt De Villiers set a new all-time Southern Premier League run record as Hambledon took a huge step towards celebrating back-to-back promotions.
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The South African entered the Dons’ top-of-the-table clash at Andover requiring 31 runs to pass Will Prozesky’s 2005 haul of 1,076.

De Villiers ended unbeaten on 84 - the 11th time in 14 Division 2 innings he has passed 50 in 2022 - as the Dons’ eight-wicket at London Road saw them extend their lead over second-placed Andover.

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With three games remaining, Hambledon’s average points haul of 19.14 is well ahead of Andover’s (16.87). With the top two going up, the Dons have a huge advantage over third-placed OTs & Romsey (15.27).

Hambledon's Matt De Villiers  has set a new Southern Premier League seasonal runscoring record.Hambledon's Matt De Villiers  has set a new Southern Premier League seasonal runscoring record.
Hambledon's Matt De Villiers has set a new Southern Premier League seasonal runscoring record.

De Villiers has now compiled a stunning 1,130 SPL runs at an average of 113.0. He has scored 261 more runs than South Wilts’ Tom Morton, and from one fewer innings.

In terms of Division 2 batters, he has scored more than twice the amount of runs as the second-highest scorer, Waterlooville captain Archie Reynolds (563)!

For comparison’s sake, Prozesky scored his runs from 16 league innings in 2005. De Villiers has passed the previous record after just 14 visits to the crease.

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He has one fewer innings to his name in this thankfully rain-free summer due to Hambledon’s derby at Waterlooville being abandoned last month to a traveller encampment at Rowlands Avenue.

De Villiers is only the fourth man to reach four figures in the league since Hampshire legend Robin Smith set a new Southern League run record of 1,015 for Trojans 40 years ago.

Smith’s record was beaten twice in 2003, when South African Erasmus Hendriske - also playing for Trojans - hit 1,025 Division 3 runs.

But that same year, Kiwi Neal Parlane set a new record with 1,074 for Totton-based BAT in the top flight. He held the record for just two years.

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De Villiers’ latest masterclass dug his side out of a potentially tricky situation.

Asked to chase 178 for victory, the Dons slumped from 126-2 to 129-5 with former Zimbabwe Test international John Nyumbu bagging 4-36.

But No 7 Jonty Oliver (14 not out) provided solid support, helping De Villiers add a match-clinching, unbroken sixth wicket stand of 49.

De Villiers hit 14 fours in his almost a run-a-ball innings - he faced 85 deliveries for his 84 runs - with the Dons reaching their target with almost nine overs to spare.

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Nyumbu, the home skipper, had earlier helped the Andover tail wag after they had slipped to 103.

Coming in at No 9, he hit 30 and along with last two Mike Adams (11) and Richard Taylor (13) ensured the last three home wickets added 74 runs.

Matt Knight (34) top scored before he was dismissed by De Villiers, who opened the bowling and returned 2-34.

Oliver, though, was the leading wicket-taker - claiming 4-32, including the wicket of Nyumbu, to take his seasonal SPL tally to 21 at 15.57. No Dons bowler has taken more than Oliver in a list topped by Nyumbu (31).

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Hambledon have now won 23 of their last 25 SPL games, stretching back to the start of last season’s Division 3 title-winning campaign. In 2021, though, they had seven matches cancelled due to bad weather – a far cry from this summer’s drought-like conditions.

Reynolds and Josh McGregor both struck their highest SPL scores of the summer as Waterlooville rattled up 313-8 at Bashley 2nds.

Reynolds hit 86, the sixth time this summer he had passed 50 in league action. But it was the first time Kiwi McGregor, who smacked 75 off 61 balls with five sixes and four fours, had passed 30.

Bashley contributed 36 wides - James Edmunds sending down 14 of them in four overs - as part of an extras total of 45.

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The hosts’ reply began badly when Jon Hudson bowled Jack Harris first ball. But teenager Finn Gordon and James McMurray responded with a second wicket stand of 144.

Gordon, who plays for Bashley under-15s, ended up celebrating his maiden century, hitting 108 not out.

McMurray struck 79, but with no other Bash batter making double figures they finished 89 runs adrift on 224-8 (Dan Birch 3-37).