Morgan has no plans to strengthen Havant’s 2nds in bid to help them win promotion back to the Southern Premier League

Havant skipper Chris Morgan has no plans to strengthen his club’s 2nd XI in a bid to help them win promotion back to the Southern Premier League.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 1:45 pm
Ben Walker has made two appearances for Havant 2nds in 2021. Picture: Keith Woodland

Havant 2nds jumped to the top of the Hampshire League County Division 1 table at the weekend without playing.

That was because previous leaders Sway, who had won their first 11 games, crashed to defeat against Winton in one of only three top flight games to survive the latest spell of bad weather.

The 2nds are inactive again next weekend, as they were supposed to play Bedhampton Mariners who withdrew on the eve of the season.

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They then finish off their campaign with a home match against seventh-placed Longparish and a trip to 10th placed Easton & Martyr Worthy on the final day.

Morgan insists there is no temptation to drop 1st XI players down four levels just to help the 2nds’ promotion bid.

‘Getting the 2s up is so important to the club,’ he said. ‘I’ll be so happy if they go up.

‘There’s no need to change selection. They’ve got where are on their own accord.

‘We’ve helped them by not really taking any of their core group in the 1s, but we haven’t given them any of the first teamers.

‘Ben Walker has played a couple of games but that’s due to his personal circumstances of not being able to get to some away grounds for an 11.30am start.

‘It would be unfair on players in the 2s to bring in first teamers and say ‘sorry guys, you’ll have to play for the 3s this week’.

‘It’s also important for them to try and get up themselves (without 1st XI help).

Havant 2nds dropped out of the SPL in 2018, so are aiming to win promotion in only their second HL campaign.

Walker has only played in one completed match, hitting 90 and taking 4-13 against Bournemouth 2nds. His other appearance, against Alton 2nds, was rained off.

If Havant 2nds do go up, it will mean the club will be one of six with 1st and 2nd XIs in the 40-team Southern Premier League structure in 2022 - the others are St Cross, Basingstoke & North Hants, South Wilts, Hook & Newnham Basics and Bashley.

‘It’s important to reduce the gap between the 1s and 2s,’ Morgan added. ‘It means we can bring in players with experience of a higher level rather than it being a massive leap up.’

Havant have had seven SPL top flight games rained off in 2021, the most in their history, and Morgan remarked: ‘I was talking to Richard Hindley’s mum who has been following local cricket for 70 years or so. She said she’s never known a season like this one. To lose seven games is unprecedented.

‘Then there’s the Covid restrictions which have made things difficult administration-wise.

‘All the pre-season enthusiasm has literally been dampened out.

‘But the club is in a fantastic place. The 2s have done incredibly well, we’ve had over 50 girls come along, some for the first time, the 3s have done well, we’ve managed to play some 4s games.

‘All those things are as rewarding as 1st XI results on a Saturday.’

Due to the vagaries of the SPL points-scoring system, Sway are now down to third - outside the promotion places - despite winning four more games than Havant and three more than second-placed Parley.

They would have no doubt fancied their chances against Winton, who had been skittled for just 23 by Fareham & Crofton the previous week. But after reaching 45-0, they surrendered all 10 wickets for the addition of another 41 runs.

Opener and skipper Tim Noble (48) watched his side’s alarming collapse from the other end before being ninth man out.

Winton were 24-3 and 67-5 in reply, but Nick Nineham whacked an unbeaten 26 off 11 balls to seal his side’s five-wicket success and take Havant into pole position with three Saturdays left.

For only the second time since mid-June, Fareham & Crofton got a County Division 1 game underway.

Daniel Wimble and Sam Stoddart shared a third wicket stand of 154 as Fareham reached 234-7 before rain, again, had the final answer.

Wimble struck 91 before he was run out in sight of his maiden HL century and Stoddart had reached 78 before he was out in the same way.