by Mike Vimpany

Calmore Sports face an anxious wait to see if they will be allowed to play ECB British Gas Southern Premier Division cricket next season.

The Premier League will decide later this month whether Calmore tick the necessary ground and youth accreditation boxes to enable them to be promoted.

Calmore celebrated long into the night after picking up the five points (and ultimately a seven-wicket victory) against Portsmouth they needed to clinch the Division 1 title.

Twelve months ago, they were crowned Second Division winners, so in the past few days Mark Lavelle’s side has been celebrating a remarkable and unique championship double.

Calmore’s potential promotion to the top table of local recreational cricket will hinge not on their playing ability, but on the Hampshire Cricket Board’s accreditation team being satisfied that Loperwood Park is good enough to stage Premier cricket and the club’s youth set up is acceptable.

Premier League chairman David Ridley explained: “For a team to play in the Premier Division they would need to have ‘gold’ accreditation for youth and a minimum of ‘silver with gold potential’ for ground.

“Throughout the season, visiting captains and panel umpires mark the grounds and the HCB reviews these marks on a week by week basis.

“These marks are sent out to clubs during the season so they are all aware of where they stand.

“In addition to the captain/umpire marks, the HCB have visited grounds before and during the season and further visits to certain grounds are happening before a final report and recommendations is sent to the SPL management committee.

“New gradings will be issued to clubs when reports (on number of matches played, number of qualified coaches etc) are known.

“Ground gradings will be based on the report from HCB Grounds and Facilities Committee and, if it is accepted, we will know promotions/relegations then.”

But Mr Ridley stressed the reports would “not be made ‘public’ for a few days because, if any club is being relegated or stopped from being promoted based on accreditation, I would want to speak to them first.”

Calmore Sports came under late season pressure before clinching the SPL Division 1 title.

They were still playing their game when news leaked through that Basingstoke & North Hants had thrashed Hook & Newnham Basics by nine wickets to close the gap at the top.

But Calmore had three of the five points they needed to clinch the title after taking seven Portsmouth wickets.

Jack Marston (55) top scored in Portsmouth’s 189-7 – a target Calmore overhauled with almost five overs to spare.

They lost Ben Perry - the first of three wickets for Hampshire 2nd XI all-rounder Fraser Hay - at 30.

But a century partnership between Michael Cook (47) and Ben Johns (48) put Calmore firmly in the driving seat before Hay (3-29) dismissed both batsmen within seven runs.

Calmore overcame a wobble at 137-3, with James Manning (37 not out) and Jack Rutter (21 not out) taking them past the title-clinching 150 fifth bonus point score and on to a historic victory.

“To win back to back titles is an incredible achievement,” beamed skipper Mark Lavelle.

“Our season’s expectations were to stay up and try and establish ourselves as a Division 1 club.

“I felt we were good enough for a mid-table finish so to go on and win the league, quite convincingly in the end, was beyond all our wildest dreams.”

Mark Lavelle can’t see any reason why his club shouldn’t be promoted to the Southern Premier League top flight.

“It’s long time ago we were once playing Gold cricket and for me since 2004 the club is in a much better position with our colts set up, introduction of Girls and ladies cricket, amongst many other things,” he said. 

“A lot of hard work has gone on off the field in the past few years so it would be disappointing, not just as a team but a club, if we didn’t get the chance to be promoted. 

“The league table never lies so finishing top should mean we get the chance to go back to Premier cricket. 

“There are a lot of us in the team that want a go at playing the top level, so we hope the Premier League allow us the opportunity.”

Lavelle reckons Loperwood Park is one of the nicest grounds to play on in the SPL.

He added: “A lot of talk has been about our ground both in the media and by hearsay around the circuit. I may be biased, but Loperwood Park is one of the nicest grounds to play at. 

“Early season we were caught by the unexpected dry weather and that made not just our groundsman but a lot of groundsmen’s jobs at all grounds a lot harder.  We were not the only ones to struggle! 

“I still feel the pitches early on were okay. It’s a good cricket wicket. 
“Every game at Loperwood this year has been a decent contest. 

“In the second half of the season our pitches were back where we expected them.

“I didn’t see any other ground on the last game of the season where nearly 100 overs were played and only ten wickets fell, with 400 runs being scored.”