|The Fourth XI's victory at Beaulieu last week was their tenth in succession – probably the longest winning streak since the side was formed in 1986. The last defeat suffered was at the hands of Ringwood on 30th June last year (but more of them later). The run started with 22 points against Whiteparish and, with a nice air of symmetry maximum points were not achieved again until last Saturday's victory.
On the batting front, things have been strengthened by the return of Steve Coltman to league cricket this season, with consecutive 50's in the last two matches. This has done much to relieve the pressure on Mark Gannaway (322 runs) at the top of the order. Other 50's have come from Tim Hunter (84 in an opening partnership of 203 with Meg), Robin Goff (a lone contribution against Esso) and Jim Stevenson in a rain affected match at Beaulieu last year, when their umpire wanted to call the game off, but with Bob's obstinance it would have needed a monsoon to remove us from the pitch.
The consistency of the bowling can be seen that on eight out of the ten occasions maximum bowling points have been gleaned – thanks largely to Bob Iles and Luigi Di Maria with 29 and 27 wickets respectively of the 96 to fall during the period. Of those eight 10-wicket hauls, half of them have been for fewer than 100 runs. Strangely, for all these wickets by these two, they have only one 5-for between them, being Bob's 6-20 at the start of this season, in addition to Trevor Phillip's 5-23 against Ringwood. However, it was Trevor's participation in this match – along with several others – that led to the result being overturned and Ringwood snatching the title from our hands by default. Some compensation at a personal level was with Bob and Meg winning the divisional bowling and batting awards respectively.
One of the highlights of the run was the last wicket stand between Malcolm Douglas and Simon Judd against Burley to secure a nail biting victory, after Dom Di Maria – coming from his sick bed – and Luigi had earlier scored runs. It is interesting to note that Luigi topped the New Forest batting last season with an average of 84 (helped by being only out the once).
The run has been presided over by five ever-presents (Meg, Bob, Luigi, Dom and Robin) which garnered 199 points at an average of 19.90. Long may it continue (but I wouldn't bet on it!).