Hewitt calls on Hambledon to kick on

Dan Hewitt targeted a 'significant improvement' as he prepared his side for the new Southern Electric Premier League division one season.

The Hambledon skipper took over the Ridge Meadow reins from James Scutt last season.

The 2012 campaign began well but petered out somewhat, as the Dons had to rely on other results to avoid relegation on the final day.

Hewitt is determined to avoid a repeat of that nailbiting finale this summer - and he is confident his new-look squad is capable of delivering a top-four finish, as they did in 2011.

Former Hampshire spinner Ian Turner is involved once again, while left-handed batsman Jack Lavous has returned from United Services and the Dons have successfully recruited an overseas player.

Hewitt, who has topped the division one bowling charts for the past two seasons, said: 'After a relatively disappointing 2012 campaign the 2013 season is looking better.

'Ian Turner and Jack Lavous have returned to the club, while Roscoe Thattil has arrived as our overseas player, on the back of averaging more than 60 in the Sri Lankan Premier League.

'And if you factor in the experience young players gain year on year, we are setting our targets for a significant improvement.'

Hambledon won their pre-season friendlies against University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth & Southsea, while the clash with Hursley Park was rained off.

Joe Collings-Wells, who made a big impact with the bat in his debut season at Ridge Meadow, missed both fixtures but has since returned from a winter Down Under.

Hambledon kick off their campaign with a home clash against newly-promoted Fawley tomorrow (1pm).

Hewitt said: 'Joe Collings-Wells returns from Australia for the game.

'He’s had a gap year playing out there, so I am confident he will be coming back a much better player with higher ambitions.

'Fawley will be a decent side, though. They knocked us out of the t20 Cup last year and I was impressed with the quality of their side.

'I understand they’ve got a handy overseas, too, so it should be set-up for a good game.'

While Hewitt expects a tough test from Fawley, he is also predicting a competitive season all round.

He has tipped reigning-champions Sarisbury for the title but reckons the rest of the clubs will be scrapping with each other right to the end.

The skipper is therefore keen to see his Dons secure their safety before pushing on with headier ambitions.

'The first division looks pretty strong from what I understand,' said Hewitt.

'Everyone has picked up a couple of players and a decent overseas.

'We’re still aiming for the top four but, ultimately, the first check-point is safety - as with every season.

'So let’s get that out the way first.

'I fancy Sarisbury to top the table again this season. They are a strong, rounded side with a great mix of talent and experience.'

Hewitt is without James Atkinson this weekend, while the likes of Joseph Brown, Cameron Prentice and Rory Prentice will be unavailable for the beginning of the campaign, too.

Hambledon: Dan Hewitt, James Scutt, Roscoe Thattil, Rob Atkins, Joe Collings-Wells, Jack Lavous, Paul Vickers, Nick Scutt, Will Mann, Ian Turner, Rupert Hetherington