South Wilts drove another nail into Havant’s fading prospects of retaining the ECB British Gas Southern Premier League title by inflicting one of the defending champions’ heaviest defeats.They recovered from a pre-lunch wobble to post 247 and then bowled Havant out for a mere 94 to win by a massive 151 runs.
It was Havant’s third defeat in eight matches and, coupled with two recent draws, has left them in mid-table, well off the pace of leading pair Lymington and Bashley (Rydal).
“I was really happy with the team effort with the bat and the bowlers bowled well as a unit<” enthused South Wilts skipper James Hibberd.
“We have showed glimpses of what we can do in the first few games, but that all came together and our ground fielding and catching was fantastic behind the stumps.”
Youngsters Tom Cowley (36) and Will Wade provided South Wilts with an 81-run workmanlike start, but when left-arm spinner Chris Morgan (5-57) began to create inroads from the Bemerton church end, it appeared their endeavours might be unrewarded.
Wade disappointing departure right on lunch for a well constructed 47 sent South Wilts into the break at 125-4.
But Havant, handicapped by a nasty facial fielding injury sustained by skipper Ben Walker, saw the initiative wrested away from them by Joe Cranch (41) and, more particularly, teenager Den Draper (57), who is developing into a fine young prospect.
His maiden SPL brought praise from Hibberd, who said: “Ben has started to show his class and, having worked with him since he was 12 years old, it was really enjoyable to see from a personal perspective, the way he played the spinners was excellent.
“He showed the older guys how to do it!”
Draper’s handy 39-run flurry with Sam Arnold (25) put South Wilts in a strong position, but one which Richard Hindley (3-52) weakened by taking the last four wickets for two runs to leave the hosts 247 all out.
“We were confident that 247 was a good score on that wicket as the ball was still moving around at the back end of our innings,” Hibberd reflected.
With Walker, the Premier Division’s lead run scorer, not well enough to bat, Havant lacked much stability.
Rob Gibson and stand-in opener Jez Bulled made starts, but really only Chris Stone (30) made much of a fist of it, clouting Luke Evans for two big sixes over mid-wicket before the Southampton Solent pacer trapped him leg before.
Steve Warner (left) (5-25), coming on as first change from the Wilton Road end, led the demolition – Havant disintegrating from 70-3 to 94 all out, with Evans finishing with 4-25.
Walker eventually batted 11, but by then Havant were well beaten.
“Luke Evans can’t stop taking wickets at the moment, but it was Warner who really got us going,” Hibberd added.