BOURNEMOUTH have been bowled off the top of the ECB Southern Premier Division after suffering a 34-run loss at Burridge – their third defeat in the last four matches.

They collapsed from 102 for one to 178 all out after Burridge had posted a challenging 212 for nine, writes Mike Vimpany.

“The last few weeks we’ve let ourselves down with the bat, not reaching our first half of the season standards,” admits skipper Chris Park.

“But cricket can change so quickly. Who knows what will happen in the last five weeks of the season?

“Everybody in the league can beat anybody else on their day and, with only 23 points separating the leading five clubs, there isn’t any team running away with it.

“At the beginning of the season we sat down and said a top-half finish was attainable. Nobody, including ourselves, thought we’d be top for the last six or seven weeks.

“We’re the first to hold our hands up and say we were in nosebleed territory by being there or thereabouts for the season so far. It’s nice knowing that, with five games left, we will be playing Premier Division cricket next year again.

“I’ve every faith we’ll bounce back, with Bashley’s visit to Chapel Gate on Saturday a potential perfect starting point.”

With runs hard to come by of late, Bournemouth were always going to be pressed to chase down a total of 212 for nine, largely underpinned by a fine knock by Burridge’s South African skipper Hilio de Abreu (66).

With support from Azim Chowdhury (37) and James Hughes (26) Burridge were in a strong position at 110 for two, when left-arm spinner Robbie Pack disrupted the flow with rewards of three for 17 from a mean 10-over spell.

When De Abreu departed, Burridge were 160 for eight, but Will Candy (28) and Oli Southon (23no) added vital late runs to lift the final score to 212 for nine.

Bournemouth began soundly through Luke Matthews (37) and Nick Park (29), who shared a 60-run start before Luke Webb (24) helped things to a promising 102 for two.

But a triple blow, when Bournemouth lost three wickets with their reply on 113, effectively ended their hopes, the innings folding to 139 for eight before Ed Denham and Dan Conway rallied to take the final score to 178, Dan Stancliffe’s three for 29 return taking his tally for the season to an SPL highest 25 victims.