BASINGSTOKE and North Hants captain Chris Froud says that Saturday’s trip to Hambledon will be a “test of character” after his side suffered their first defeat of the season.

The Bountymen went down by 49 runs at home to Sarisbury on Saturday, a result that brought their 100 per cent record to an end after six successive victories in Southern League Division One.

They bounced back well the following day, reaching the quarter-finals of the Southern Electric t20 Cup with a nine-run win away at OTs and Romsey, but bigger challenges loom this weekend.

Saturday will see Basingstoke make the tricky trip to Hambledon in the league, while they are away again the following day, travelling to South Wilts in the t20 Cup.

Hambledon is a notoriously tough place to go to, with leaders New Milton the only side to beat them on home soil so far this season.

Froud said: “Everyone I have spoken to says it is a difficult pitch to play on, with a low bounce, so it could be a bit of a banana skin.

“It will be a test of character because everyone was disappointed on Saturday and we have to get back on track.”

The following day, Basingstoke will be massive underdogs against a South Wilts side who sit top of the Southern League and are the Southern Electric t20 Cup holders.

Froud added: “There will not be any pressure on us, so we will just try to play as well as possible and if we do win, then it’s a massive result.”

The Bountymen will be without all-rounder Graham Porter for both games, and must decide whether to replace him with a batsman or a bowler.

Last Saturday, after winning the toss and electing to field, Basingstoke made a good start. Sarisbury were 99-4 after 30 overs but went after the bowling in the latter stages to reach 268-8, with Dave Banks making 77.

The home side’s reply never really got going and while a rain delay reduced their target to 226 from 42 overs, they were bowled out for 176, Andrew Niblett top-scoring with 44.

The result allowed New Milton to ease further clear at the top of the table, while Sarisbury moved above Basingstoke and into second place.

In the cup, skipper Craig Williamson top-scored with 32 as Basingstoke made 125-6 from their 20 overs, while Martyn James took 3-15 as OTs were restricted to 116-8.