Cricket: Chichester and Worthing are safe - but only after a scare

Dan Joseph is denied a breakthrough as Chichester put the pressure on Worthing  Picture by Louise Adams
Dan Joseph is denied a breakthrough as Chichester put the pressure on Worthing Picture by Louise Adams

After 18 games and almost five months of cricket, the equation for Chichester and Worthing was simple when they faced each other last Saturday in Priory Park: to ensure tenure in the Sussex Premier Cricket League, the home side needed 12 points; the visitors five.

The outcome was that both teams stayed up, but it could have been much different as results around the county put them under pressure.

In the least precarious position was Worthing and they had no hesitation in electing to bat on winning the toss and things started very well for them as Michael Gould produced a rumbustious innings as he hit 41 from just 30 balls.

However, once he was lost, the rate of scoring reduced dramatically as wickets fell at regular intervals.

At 100 for six, Worthing looked set to miss the batting bonus points they required to stay up. In fact, 175 was the target, but they fell short being bowled all out for 162 – gaining four of the five bonus points they required.

The Chichester bowlers bowled well as a unit, but Steve Sedgley did the most damage. The 24-year-old model from Runcton produced figures of four for 19 to decimate the lower order following three wickets each for Richard Browning and Matt Geffen.

Wicketkeeper Dave Leaver also played a major part - the 29-year-old bodybuilder from Bognor took six catches behind the stumps.

At the halfway stage, reports from the fixtures involving fellow relegation candidates Eastbourne, Bexhill and Brighton were unclear. This strengthened the resolve of the two teams to gain the points they needed to guarantee safety. Worthing needed to claim just two wickets; Chichester needed to score 150 runs.

Chichester started with another fine opening partnership involving captain Mark Bamford and Chris Kirkham. The pair started slowly at first, such was their desire to see their team home, but then started to play more expansively.

Bamford was the major aggressor smashing 80 off just 88 balls including 14 fours and two huge sixes off the bowling of Mason Crane (2-47). Kirkham also bludgeoned two sixes and was also out to Crane on 67.

By this stage, the score was 150 – so they had secured Premier League status for their side. No further wickets fell as Chichester marched inexorably to their victory target, but Worthing were not concerned as they obtained the fifth point they also required.

It was fitting Bamford and Kirkham played such a decisive role as the latter is likely to move to Australia before the commencement of the 2013 season and Bamford is stepping down from the role of captain after four successful years in the post. Both players had good seasons with Bamford finishing fifth highest run-scorer in the league, with Kirkham seventh.

Athough Bexhill – who occupied the one of the two relegation places before the game – lost at East Grinstead, bottom-placed Eastbourne won and could have resigned either team to the drop. A surprise victory for Brighton against Horsham would also have compounded their woes if Chichester and Worthing had not secured their respective points tally.

The eventuality was that Eastbourne and Bexhill finished ninth and tenth, with Worthing two points ahead of Eastbourne in eighth and Chichester seventh. Preston Nomads won the title.

Chichester’s second X1 also won to secure their status in the top flight of the second XI League. But both teams must play better and strengthen before next season.