Havant skipper Morgan praises ‘genuinely unbelievable’ batting in opening Southern Premier League win over Hook

Skipper Chris Morgan praised some ‘genuinely unbelievable’ batting as Havant opened their Southern Premier League top flight season with victory.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 12:22 pm
A masked Havant wicket-keeper Jeremy Bulled catches the ball as the rain falls against Hook & Newnham Basics. Picture: Keith Woodland

Asked to chase a rain-revised target of 221 in 32 overs against newly-promoted Hook & Newnham, opener Ben Walker (59) and No 3 George Metzger (46) gave them a brisk start.

That set the scene for Harry Gadd - dropped down the order to No 4 after opening for the last two years - to compile a ‘very mature’ undefeated half-century as Havant won by three wickets with 13 balls in hand.

‘I’d say we won the game comfortably,’ said Morgan. ‘And the best thing is that there are so many areas we can improve in.

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Havant bowler Richard Jerry as the rain falls against Hook & Newnham Basics. Picture: Keith Woodland

‘A better side than Hook might not have let us off the hook, but for an opening game, with some rain, it was a good start.’

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Hook posted 240-9 off their 50 overs.

Seamers Richard Jerry and Alfie Taw took the new ball but it was veteran spinner Richard Hindley who made the breakthrough on 65 when he had Ben Thame caught by Simon Loat.

No 3 Harry Robson struck 76 but the home side’s three slow bowlers - Morgan (2-35), Freddie Gadd (2-41) and Hindley (2-55) - were all among the wickets.

Umbrellas up at Havant Park on the opening day of the Southern Premier League season. Picture: Keith Woodland

Morgan thought Hook’s total was ‘slightly under par’ on a wicket he said ‘was one of the best I have seen at Havant Park in many years - it was flat, it was true, there was a good pace to it.’

In reply, Peter Hopson (12) departed early but Walker and Metzger - the latter making his SPL debut for Havant after being released by the Hampshire Academy - ‘batted absolutely magnificently.

‘They were genuinely unbelievable,’ said the skipper. ‘We had 90 in nine overs and they were all proper shots.

‘That put us ahead of the run rate before we had a slight wobble, but Harry Gadd played a very mature innings.

Havant bowler Alfie Taw in action against Hook & Newnham Basics. Picture: Keith Woodland

‘Hopefully that will be a launchpad for a lot more innings like that.

‘Harry can play as an opener but batting at 4 will help him develop as a more rounded batter.

‘He could be coming in at 30-2 or 3 needing to consolidate or coming in at 150-2 or 3 and needing to accelerate.

‘Hopefully by the time Harry gets in the ball will have lost a bit of its lacquer, the pitch will have lost some of its moisture and green tinge, and Harry can play his shots with a bit less risk.’

Havant bowler Richard Hindley took two wickets in the victory over Hook. Picture: Keith Woodland

Gadd, a Portsmouth University student, ended on 53 not out off 76 balls after Havant had ‘wobbled’ from 147-3 to 196-6.

Loat was called up from the 2nds to play after Sonny Reynolds returned to former club Waterlooville following another injury setback.

The seam bowler has been plagued by back problems in recent years, leading to his release by the Hampshire Academy last autumn.

He had made his Havant debut in a friendly against Portsmouth the previous week, but will now play for Waterlooville in Division 2 of the SPL as a batsman.

‘I’m really upset for the chap,’ said Morgan. ‘Sonny had worked his nuts off trying to get fit.

‘He had looked really good against Portsmouth, I could see the potential, but he wasn’t going to play for us just as a batter so he’s gone back to his family and friends at Waterlooville.

Havant wicket-keeper Jeremy Bulled looks on. Picture: Keith Woodland

‘I wish him well and would love to see him back in a Havant shirt one day, though that probably won’t be this season.’

Havant’s second game of the season is a trip to The Ageas Bowl next weekend to face the Hampshire Academy.

Morgan’s good friend Chris Wood skippered the Academy as they defeated Lymington by four runs in their curtain-raiser.

After the Academy were bowled out for 217, a rain revised target saw Lymington asked to chase 163 from 30 overs.

They looked out of it on 83-6 but South African all-rounder Ximus Du Plooy (61 not out) proved impossible to dislodge.

The game went down to the final over, bowled by Wood, where Lymington’s last two batsmen - Ollie Elliott and Guy Layman - were run out off the first and third deliveries respectively.

Huw Wheeler had earlier scored a SPL-best 84 for the Academy, with wicket-keeper Charlie Mumford hitting 57.

Harry Gadd struck a rapid century on Sunday as a Havant XI defeated a Waterlooville XI in a friendly.

Batting at No 8, Gadd walked to the crease with his side 138-6 and Jake Nicholas not out on nine.

When the innings closed, the pair had added an unbroken 137 for the seventh wicket - of which Nicholas’ contribution was just eight.

At the other end, Gadd blazed 21 boundaries and a six in belting 118 not out off just 58 deliveries as Havant closed on 275-6.

‘Harry’s a first teamer playing Waterlooville 2nds so you would possibly have expected him to do that,’ said Morgan, who was also playing (but did less well, out for 12).

Aidan Neal (5-28) was easily the best of the Ville attack.

In reply, Ville reached 210-2 thanks to opener Bob Hurt (94 off 103 balls) and Lewis Poole Gleed, who made 68 before being stumped by Danielle Ransley off the bowling of Matt Hayward.

Opening bowler Mark Martin (3-54) was Havant’s main wicket-taker as Ville eventually finished on 246-5.