VENTNOR HAMMER PURBROOK IN OPENING VICTORY
Ventnor began their latest defence of the Southern Electric Premier League Division 2 title with a 117 run thumping of Purbrook on Saturday.
The Islanders, aiming for a unique fifth successive championship, may have lost Birchall, Shutte, Lloyd and Friend from last year’s side and Matt Compton and Martin Blackman through injury from Saturday’s team, but they still proved far too strong for the side from Portsdown Hill.
Despite the torrential rain leading up to the game, Nigel Cox had managed to prepare a firm, excellent looking pitch which Ventnor had first use of.
The home side lost Mark Fletcher to the lively Sam Pearce without scoring, but Danny Briggs, surprisingly made available by the Hampshire Academy, and Ian Hilsum led a recovery before teenager Briggs departed one short of a fluent half century.
Hilsum perished for 30 but Neil Westhorpe (37) and debut making South African Zanzima ‘Nono’ Pongolo (39) pushed the score to 187-5 before a late flurry of wickets saw the innings subside to 195 all out.
Purbrook struggled to make any impression as Charlie Freeston (2-12) and Mark Holmes (1-15) took charge with Holmes taking advantage of the pacey pitch to make life particularly uncomfortable for the visitors.
Andy Whyte, making a welcome return after missing most of last season through injury, inflicted further damage with two wickets before left arm spinner Briggs (2-18) helped round off a comprehensive victory as the Hampshire side crashed to 78 all out.
Pongolo, bowling at a brisk pace, completed a highly promising debut by taking 2-27.
Mark Whyte’s side are likely to face a stiffer task on Saturday when they make the short trip to Lymington.
HAMPSHIRE LEAGUE SIDE GET UNDERWAY THIS WEEKEND
Ventnor second team’s reward for winning Division 4 East of the Hampshire League in record breaking fashion last season was to be ‘fast tracked’ to Regional Division One South.
The side, captained by Ross Edwards, play their opening game at Steephill against Calmore Sports II.
An absentee will be Chris Russell, who is trialling with Worcestershire. Teenager Russell is yet another product of the Ventnor youth set up to catch the eye of a first class County.