By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH CRICKET CLUB will start their new Southern League season on Saturday afternoon following a turbulent pre-season period; which saw three key players leave the team amidst news that their captain Lee Harrop will miss the opening weeks of the campaign due to working commitments abroad.
The first departure was all-rounder Jacob Harris as the 20-year-old stepped up two divisions to join Salisbury following good performances in 2021; which saw him become the highest run scorer for Gosport with 325 at an average of 46.43 per innings. He was also solid with the ball as he took fifteen wickets throughout the season, averaging a dismissal every 18.53 runs conceded.
And shortly before the first pre-season game in late April, twins Ollie and Charlie Cleal left Privett Park to join top-flight Burridge for the campaign after brilliant performances last year; captain Lee Harrop saying the loss of “those players did take some gloss off’ the preparations for the new season in an interesting but honest interview with Portsmouth News earlier this week.
A further blow came as Harrop will miss at least the opening three weekends of the new campaign due to work commitments, with Vice-captain Greg Kitchin taking charge in his absence. But there were positive signs for Gosport as they confirmed the returns of Sri Lankan spinner Sampath Prathapasinghe following a spell at Burridge and Denzel James; a top order batsman from St Lucia who joined the Army last summer so couldn’t play any league matches during the 2021 cricket season after his consistent start to pre-season.
But the English qualified batsman has impressed in pre-season as he scored 118 runs off just 95 balls in a friendly, also recommending the signing of fast bowler Tyrel Chicot to the club. The bowler, from St Lucia himself, has joined as their permitted 2022 overseas player and made his unofficial club debut for Gosport in last weekend’s pre-season warm-up match away versus Portsmouth & Southsea.
Although this game ultimately ended in defeat at home, it has still been a good overall pre-season on the pitch for Gosport; beating Hursley Park by six wickets over Easter and following this up with an away triumph over Fareham & Crofton CC seven days later on April 23. All scorecards including the intra-squad encounter, won by the second eleven, can be seen here and clicking on the report symbol on the right side.
Gosport will be hoping to build on some impressive individual displays as well during pre-season; including Mark Toogood as the batsman hit two successive half-centuries in different batting positions. Their first game of the season will see them play newly promoted Sway on Saturday, before travelling to South Wiltshire next weekend for their second match of the new season; this game starting at 12:30pm with the toss at midday.
PICTURED BY ALLAN HUTCHINGS: Gosport’s Mark Toogood on his way to a half-century in the pre-season friendly against Portsmouth & Southsea last weekend batting lower down the order.