27th October 2015

 

First glimpse of 2016 Hampshire League line up

The first snow drop of the 2016 Hampshire Cricket League season emerged earlier this week with the publication of the 1st draft of the league structure. As ever there is lots of interesting information to digest – new teams & clubs, frustrated ambitions, double promotions and club mergers.

Starting at the top, congratulations must go to Fair Oak who deservedly look to have regained their position in the Southern League. Congratulations also to Bishops Waltham on their promotion to CD1 albeit this is mixed with a modicum of regret as “it could have been us” – Bishops Waltham fished runners up to Sway 1st in CD3 in 2014 and Sway narrowly beat them in an exciting pre-season friendly earlier this year.

 

Hythe & Dibden, despite suffering a 7-wicket defeat to Sway, have been promoted back to CD2 where the other big item of interest is the merger of Bransgore and Nomansland. With the proximity of the two clubs and with Nomansland lacking a colts set up, perhaps this development was on the cards, but lovers of Nomansland’s historic and unique ground will be pleased to know that it will not suffer the same fate as Swan Green and it will be used for HCL games next season.

Sway 1st XI have a mixture of old and new rivalries for 2016. There will be a fascinating local derby with a first ever game against Bransgore 1st XI who were related from CD2. There will also be a chance for revenge against Old Netley & Highfield – Sway having suffered a humiliating defeat to Highfield in the opening fixture of the 2014 season. Coming up from CD4 the toughest challenge may well be Ferndown Wayfarers who are now carving their way through the HCL having moved over from the Dorset League. Rivalry will also be renewed against another promoted team, Suttoners I who Sway I last played down in RD3SW in 2007. Sway have never played the final promoted side to CD3, Bashley III who are likely to be stiff test especially in Hampshire U16 star run merchant Patrick Holly turns out for their 3rds. The rest of CD3 is as per 2015 with some great games to look forward to not least Parley and another  tough test against Woodgreen.

 

In CD4W, ex-Dorset Premier League team Winton are likely to start out as favourites again after another promotion and also coming up are Farley, who according to many, were the class act of 2015 in RD1W.

RD1 is the first set of divisions to see impact of the league re-organisation. Three teams, Mudeford II, Hyde and Braemore will all face Sway II again in 2016 after being denied promotion due to ground issues. With several other clubs in RD1 who were already, we believe ineligible for promotion for various reasons, the promotion slots for 2016 could well be wide open. After a difficult season last time out, Sway 2nds will be looking to kick on and make progress – the inclusion in RD1W of five additional promoted teams (Shrewton II, Cadnam II, Bransgore II, New Milton III and East Christchurch) should in theory make progress easier...... but it often does not turn out that way! Similarly, Lyndhurst & Ashurst will present an extremely tough test despite having received a double-promotion.

 

Another side to receive a relatively rare double promotion were Dorset Indians who will take their place in RD2W as one of the likely favourites for another promotion. Hythe & Dibden III trumped their rivals Sway III and received an additional promotion to RD2W where Sway will looking to join them for the 2017 season.

So Sway III will take their place again in RD3W which should prove a stiff test in 2016. Promoted Lytchett and Ferndown Wayfarers II are likely to be extremely tough nuts to crack and the merged Bramshaw & Nomansland III is likely to be boosted by the influx of players. As previously, there are some cracking local derbies to look forward to against Brockenhurst, New Milton, Bashley and Burley as well as some longer trips into the unknown depths of Wiltshire to the likes of Wilton, Winterbourne and Farley.

As ever RD4 is the most changed set of divisions as it is the entry point for new clubs and teams into the HCL structure and so often this is the most eagerly anticipated list of teams. This year is no exception with no less than 13 new clubs or teams entering, 6 of which will be faced by Derek's Indefatigables. Ellingham are entering a fourth team (for the 1st time?) and Fawley are reviving their 4th IV. Ferndown Wayfarers appear to be moving completely over from Dorset to Hampshire with a 3rd team now in the HCL and Parley's county switch seems to be gathering momentum with a 4th team now entered in the HCL. As expected, Lyndhurst & Ashurst are entering a second team after a couple of very successful seasons. Finally, there is a new team called "Dorset Cricketers".......a very generic, hard to google name so no idea who they are, other than they are probably in Dorset!

RD4SW has a particularly "western" feel to it with 7 of the 16 teams being in Dorset. This is not too bad for Sway IV, but the re-drawing of the league boundaries is particularly unfortunate for both Fawley and Hythe & Dibden's 4th XIs - with both these sides likely to be made up primarily of colts, the prospect of some seriously long return journeys is unlikely to be favourably received.

Elsewhere in RD4, Wellow & Plaitford make a most welcome return to adult league cricket after a couple of years absence. Laverstock and Ford, a long estblished sports club near Salisbury are forming a cricket team and will become the latest Wiltshire side enter the HCL. Finally, Ryde Cavliers are dipping their toes in the HCL pond and will join Ventnor, Shanklin and Ryde as Isle of Wight teams in the HCL.