With all cricket matches rained off in Hampshire on Saturday, this allowed the Andover Cricket Club captains, Harry Blackburn and Alex Thompson, and chair of selectors, Matt Knight, some time to reflect on how all four of Andover’s Adult Mens teams were fairing with under half a season to go. 

Andover’s First XI, sponsored by Nordlock, are having a very successful year. Following promotion last year the team were undoubtedly looking to stabilise in the Southern Premier Cricket League, division one. However, Andover currently sit in second place, one win behind league leaders and local rivals Basingstoke. With one team promoted Andover know it will go all the way to the finish.

With their game washed out against Portsmouth this weekend Andover now have six games left to play with Basingstoke visiting London Road in August, which will surely be a title decider. Until then Andover need to ensure they keep the pressure on their rivals up the M3 and travel to bottom of the table New Milton this weekend looking to come home with maximum points.

Knight put Andover’s success down to Andover’s long batting order, high-quality bowling attack and some standout individual performances. Aidan Jansen currently sits joint top of the bowling charts and Richmond Mutumbami is in fourth place in the batting charts. The left-armer Jansen, who has become one of Andover’s main strike bowlers, has bowled with good place and control, swinging balls back into the stumps. Jansen undoubtedly would say a lot of his success has come from the other high-quality bowling around him maintaining pressure but he deserves his success after several seasons getting better every year. Mutumbami has passed over 500 runs and is currently 75 runs behind the top league run scorer. The Zimbabwean has had a brilliant first season with Andover as he also has 17 dismissals behind the stumps, to go with his brilliant performance with the bat. Glyn Treagus is also well over 300 runs for the season and Ollie Williams and Babu Veettil are over 200. Crucially for Andover, Veettil’s has come at a strike rate of over 190 meaning he takes games away from the opposition towards the end of the innings.

Andover second team have had a frustrating year and currently sit in eighth place, from the 18 teams in the Hampshire Cricket League County Division 2. From their nine games, the town side have won five and lost four. The frustration comes that they have beat league leaders, Tichborne Park, by 10 wickets so can clearly mix it with the best in the league. Blackburn put the unpredictable nature of the side down to inconsistent availability, rightly arguing that with a full-strength side out the London Road outfit would be mixing it with the best in the division. Andover will be looking for a strong finish to the season with three promotion places up for grabs, they will hoping to sneak into third but will need other teams to falter.

The Andover third and fourth XI play in the same division and they unusually play each other on Saturday on the second pitch at London Road. Thompson was particularly looking forward to the fixture and said he expects a friendly rivalry. It is youth versus experience with the Third XI hosting players towards the end of their careers, supporting a number of up and coming youngsters, whereas the fourth team is predominately youngsters supporting a handful of adult players. The Third XI sit in second place have lost only one game all season, against top place, and they will be looking to push on for promotion. The Fourth XI sit in 14th place having won two games and lost six, but crucially for the development of the club, they haven’t had to forfeit any games. This team was only restarted this year to allow a pathway for the younger players into adult cricket, and a victory against the third team would really put the cat amongst the pigeons. 

All four of Andover’s sides will be looking for a strong finish to the season to push themselves up their respective tables and hopefully, there will be at least two promotions to celebrate come September.