The title-winning Ventnor II team.
CRICKET AFTER gaining promotion the previous week, Ventnor II clinched the Hampshire League Division 2 title on Saturday, with a six-wicket win over Sarisbury Athletic II at Steephill.
This latest title success continues the team’s rapid climb through the Hampshire League pyramid which has seen them win five championships since entering the league 2007.
Rob Snell’s all-conquering side will compete in Division 1 next season with the aim of achieving promotion to the restructured Southern League by 2014.
An 11th win in 11 games came courtesy of another dominant display against Sarisbury. On an excellent pitch with pace and bounce, the visitors elected to bat first but never really looked liked posting a challenging total once Kevin Cooper and skipper Snell had taken early wickets. Andy Whyte (3-24) inflicted further damage before Snell returned to finish with 3-20 as the innings subsided to 147 all out.
A half century opening partnership between Billy Clarke (38) and Ben Woodhouse (33) got Ventnor on their way before George Hatt (30) and Mark Fletcher (29 not out) polished off target inside 28 overs.
Meanwhile, Ventnor’s Southern Electric Premier Division revival suffered a jolt when they lost to St Cross Symondians by seven wickets.
Ventnor’s top order was undone by former Hampshire and Nottinghamshire paceman Richard Logan who, in an impressive new-ball spell, accounted for in-form Ollie Mills and fellow opener Jake George before trapping Chris Ridley lbw.
From the depths of 28-3, the experienced pair of Ian Hilsum and Neil Westhorpe repaired the damage in a fine partnership of 98 before the Ventnor captain was run out for a hard-fought 38.
The dismissal of Westhorpe two runs later for a battling 47 triggered a collapse which saw the innings slip from 128-5 to a disappointing 172 all out, St Cross skipper Matt Perry-Lewis taking 3-33.
The Winchester side lost an early wicket to Adam Wilson but went on to win convincingly inside 33 overs.
With two rounds of games remaining, there are conceivably six teams still in the relegation mix.
Bournemouth’s narrow defeat at home to Bashley means they are still propping up the table but Alton, Totton & Eling and fast-falling Lymington are anything but safe.
Ventnor’s defeat saw them drop a place to second from bottom, but with only one side demoted, the Island side’s clash with fellow strugglers Hampshire Academy at Newclose tomorrow has the look of a potentially decisive encounter.