HEAVY rain denied Basingstoke and North Hants the chance to go top of Southern League Division One last week, but captain Chris Froud is hoping that his side can take a big step towards promotion on Saturday.

Last week’s top-of-the-table clash against New Milton at May’s Bounty was called off without a ball being bowled, so Basingstoke remain second in the table at the halfway point in the season.

However, the Bountymen face another big game this weekend, when third-placed Sarisbury Athletic travel to Basingstoke.

The teams last met on the opening day of the season, with Basingstoke bowling their hosts out for 112 to claim an impressive 109-run victory.

Sarisbury bounced back in style, winning their next five games to move into the title hunt, and Froud is expecting a much closer game this time around.

“I think Sarisbury are the best side we have played against,” the Basingstoke skipper said. “I think that we might have caught them cold on the first day of the season but we will need to play well in order to beat them again.

“They have some really good players, so it’s a big game and they will want to avenge that defeat.

“Considering that we beat them, they are not far behind us because they are winning comfortably and keep getting maximum points. However, if we can beat them again, it would open up a big gap between us and them, which would be really important going forward.”

Froud is planning to field the same side that would have played against New Milton, with the only change from the side that beat Andover seeing the skipper replace Steve Bucksey.

Losing their home game to the weather against their main title rivals could prove to be a big disadvantage come the end of the season, with Basingstoke travelling to New Milton on the final day.

“It we had beaten New Milton, it would have had a massive impact on the table, so it was really irritating that the game was called off,” Froud said. “If it comes down to the last game, then our home game being called off will be important, but there are a lot of tough games left and I have a feeling that it will not get that far.”

The Bountymen are also in action on Sunday, travelling to Division Two outfit OTs and Romsey in the second round of the Southern Electric t20 Cup.

Victory in that game would set up a trip to Premier League leaders South Wilts in the next round the following weekend.