BOURNEMOUTH might have secured their first league win of the season on Saturday – but not without accelerating the ageing process for relieved skipper Martin Miller.
Lions appeared to be in cruise control having rattled off 70 for three in their chase of Hook & Newnham Basics’ total of 86 in a reduced-overs match at King George V Playing Fields.
But with just 17 runs to find, Hook’s left-arm spinner Kevin Poulter wreaked havoc in favourable fielding conditions and gave the visitors just one run on his way to five wickets.
In the end, middle-order man Brad Schmulian did enough with the bat to edge Bournemouth to victory, but Miller confessed that the uncomfortable viewing had come at a personal cost.
“I have aged already this year and that 17 seemed like 100,” said Miller. “It was weird to see what the pressure did to us, we had a few jitters and there were a few people pacing round the boundary. It was not good.
“Hook did very well to get the game on and having elected to bowl we did very well with the ball and in the field. It was all going to plan until they sent in their left-arm spinner and he made the ball talk.
“Three of the dismissals were off defensive shots at first slip and credit to him, he exploited the conditions very well which put us under real pressure.
“It has been a frustrating season for us so far. We should have won at Liphook and could have beaten Basingstoke and this match nearly went the same way.
"We knew we had to apply ourselves because we hadn’t the week before and very nearly snatched another defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Runs proved difficult to find for both sides and Schmulian (4-18) recorded impressive figures with the ball as the home side’s resistance was overcome inside 26 overs.
In response, Bournemouth’s Jake Hurley struck 22 as the visitors staggered their way to 82 for four before Gurpreet Singh, George Russell and Dave Kidner all fell victim to Poulter without scoring.
But despite the difficult nature of their success, Miller hopes crossing the winning line can provide a timely boost in Bournemouth’s search for form in Division One.
“We should be talking about three wins out of three but winning is a habit and now we have that first one, maybe it will act as a reminder of what we need to do,” he added.
“It would have been much better to win by seven or eight wickets but we ground it out in the end and that confidence should see us push on. I’m hoping we can now get back to our form of pre- season.”