SKIPPER Martin Miller knows Bournemouth could have a big say in the destiny of the Division One title but believes neighbours New Milton are still in the driving seat.
Bournemouth all but ended third-placed Basingstoke & North Hants’ slim chances by claiming a dramatic four-wicket win at May’s Bounty five days ago.
At the same time, leaders New Milton’s surprise defeat by Hambledon put the cat among the pigeons and would have given second-placed Sarisbury Athletic a major boost.
Bournemouth host New Milton in the penultimate round of fixtures later this month before the Lions head to Sarisbury on the final day of the season – when Milton entertain Basingstoke.
Miller told the Daily Echo: “We pulled it out of the fire to beat Basingstoke and they are not the same side as we played at the start of the season.
“But they are a still a good side on their day and, if I were New Milton, I would want to go into that game on the last day knowing my fate had already been sealed.
“For me, New Milton’s win against Sarisbury a couple of weeks ago was a surprise but it was a fantastic result. It is in New Milton’s hands. They are the two best sides we have played this season.
“We have got them both to play and, based on the performances in the previous games, they are going to be tough games for us. But the way we are playing at the moment, I would like to think we could beat anybody.
“But these games are being played in the last two weeks of August and it is in the middle of the holiday season and we have second team issues to consider. I can’t honestly say we are going to be at full strength for either of those matches. We will be close but we won’t be as strong as we have been recently and much will depend on the strength of the opposition.”
Bournemouth will be bidding for a fifth win in succession when they host Hook & Newnham Basics on Saturday (1pm).
But their already-depleted bowling attack will be missing paceman Mike Kitson who is named only as a batsman due to injury. Kitson will also not be available for their final two matches as he is wintering in Australia and will have linked up with his club in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Dan Loader returns for New Milton’s trip to Fawley with Ben Lawes unavailable.
Bournemouth: (from) Miller, Bridgen, Hayward, Kitson, Schmulian, Kennedy, Hurley, Matthews, R Jones, M Jones, Russell, Pack.
New Milton: R Beck, L Beck, N Park, J Park, House, Elliott, Edwards, Watts, Staniford, Loader, Gargaro.
Bashley: R Morris, Porter, Baker, J Morris, Webb, Thomson, Morgan, Neal, Friedman, Grierson, Gilmour.
Lymington: Beetham, Ellis, Mortimer, Rogers, Scott, Cowley, Hand, Edwards, Metcalfe, McCann, Freeman.