PARLEY are underway with the work they required to do to upgrade parts of their pavilion to get their ground ready to host Southern Premier League Division Three cricket next season.

The club’s long-awaited promotion has been confirmed, subject to them upgrading the dressing room showers and decorating a tearoom, writes Mike Vimpany.

The winter work, in association with the local parish council, is underway and when completed will see an upgrade and resurfacing to parts of the pavilion roof, a redecoration of the tearoom and a repair and replacement of the boiler system for all of the changing room showers.

The roofing work has started, the new boiler will be installed early in 2023 and cricket club volunteers will decorate the tearoom as a project. All of the scheduled work will be completed by the end of March.

Parley achieved seven promotions in 10 years after entering the Hampshire League back in 2008, but ongoing accreditation issues relating to the tenure of the ground and below par outfield marks denied them the opportunity of joining the Premier League after their successes in 2018 and again the following season when they were County Division One champions.

The year 2020 was COVID affected and they finished out of promotion contention by finishing third behind Havant II and Sway in 2021, but last summer finished runners-up to Compton & Chandler’s Ford to put themselves back in the frame again.

At the third time of asking and with the ground issues firmly behind them, Parley have finally been given to nod to play Premier League cricket next summer.

“Our pitch has consistently been marked well above the required standard for Dorset, Hampshire and Southern League cricket, but challenges have always come from outfield marks in the past,” explained Parley first team manager Keith Clarke.

“Being a multi-sport venue, the provision of several adult football pitches was not conducive to the best outcome. But there has been no adult soccer at Parley since the 2018/19 season.  Youth football remains, but this provides much lighter use and a shorter season.”

Parley has also benefitted from the employment of Southern Grounds Care, who undertake all the professional work required to maintain every part of the playing surface.

Clarke added: “The cricket club has invested in equipment and with volunteer support now maintains all work within the boundary rope and immediate surrounds during the cricket season. The combination of all these factors has secured outfield marks above the average standard requirements for the last two years.”

Having to remain in the Hampshire League led to Parley losing several players to Southern Premier League clubs in recent seasons, but batting duo Alex Nippard and Sam Collins have returned to the fold, along with batsman/wicketkeeper Tom Jacques, who will skipper the side in 2023 after a spell with Bashley (Rydal).

Parley won 13 of their 17 matches last summer, finishing second, 19 points behind Compton & Chandler’s Ford, with Nippard (652 runs), Collins (459) and home-grown teenagers Marcus Bragginton (503) and Kieran Laird (412) prominent in the league batting averages and Ollie Green snaring 29 wickets.

Parley team photo - Standing (from left): Steve Laird (chairman), Keith Clarke (team manager), Sam Rook, Bo Powell, Marcus Bragginton, Ollie Green, Spencer Savage, Paul Hendy (CEO Hendy).

Front: Shane Green, Roshan Embalagama, Kieran Laird, Sam Collins, Jack Nicholls, Tom Jacques.