Despite thunder and heavy rain on Saturday morning, Middleton managed to get their Sussex League division two game at home to Ifield on and take another 30 points, defeating them by three wickets.
Middleton captain Sean Heather won the toss and decided to field. The decision seemed a strange one as runs flowed for the visitors and they raced to 102 for one after 20 overs.
Ifield batsmen Dorrington and Groves were making the most of a good wicket and some inconsistent bowling as they put on 94 for the first wicket.
The introduction of Ant Ender was the key. The former Stirlands man bowled in the right areas with pace and carry and managed to remove both Groves (49) and Dorrington (55) as well as middle-order batters Caltsounis and Smith.
Ender was the pick of the Middleton bowlers with four for 36 off ten overs. At 179 for seven, the Middleton spin-bowling pair Rob Willway (2-54) and James Rufey (2-11) managed to remove the tail to restrict Ifield to 191 all out.
Middleton’s Jack Lerwill produced a moment of magic to give Rufey his second wicket – a spectacular, diving one-handed catch on the boundary.
Ever-present opening pair Heather and Burrows batted carefully and looked relatively confortable until Heather was trapped lbw by Ifield spinner Russell Jacob.
Lerwill joined Burrows at the crease and the pair made the most of batting-friendly conditions as they crafted a solid partnership of 53, frustrating the Ifield bowlers.
Middleton got to 70 before Jacob removed Burrows (40) and Hansford (13) went soon after to the bowling of Aamer Riaz.
With Middleton seemingly cruising the victory, Ifield got rid of Lerwill for a well-made 43 and Jofra Archer (22) in quick succession to leave Middleton 164 for five.
However one of the keys to Middleton’s success so far this season has been their strength in depth when it comes to batting and Hanley’s big hitting and Willway’s watchful play was the perfect combination. Although the pair were both eventually dismissed, the damage had been done and Middleton reached their target of 192 with nine overs to spare for the loss of seven wickets.
Spinner Rufey, in his second spell at the club, said: “It was a pleasing win after a difficult start. Once again we have players ready to stand up and this week Anthony Ender and Brandon Hanley played key roles in achieving this victory. They were well supported by Will Burrows and Jack Lerwill. Jack’s catch was as good as it gets in club cricket.”
This Saturday, leaders Middleton travel to second-placed St James’s Montefiore.