Cricket’s back: Sussex League and Invitation League clubs in focus

Cricket in Priory Park - an idyllic scene
Cricket in Priory Park - an idyllic scene
  • Promoted Middleton and Pagham aiming high
  • League action begins this weekend
  • Sussex and Invitation divisions as competitive as ever
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THE MONTH of May has dawned – and the local cricket season begins tomorrow.

The Sussex League and West Sussex Invitation League look set to be as competitive as ever this season and we’ll be following our local sides as closely as ever.

It’s a big year for Middleton and Pagham, promoted into the Sussex Premier and division two respectively at the end of excellent seasons last year.

Bognor and Chichester will do battle in division three while Stirlands will hope to rebuild after relegation to division four.

In the Invitation League, Aldwick, Eastergate and West Wittering are each playing in higher divisions following promotion.

Here we look at each of our main teams and reveal their hopes for the 2015 season.

(Compiled by Steve Bone)

Sussex League

Middleton

Last season: Champions of Sussex League Div 2

This season: Sussex Premier League

Realistic hopes for season: To try to consolidate our place in the Premier League.

First-team capt: Brandon Hanley

Players in; Beck Hemingway (Chichester), Shawn Blanks (Petersfield), Max Ellis (Guernsey), Ali Mohamadi (Newhaven).

Players leaving: None.

Other XIs: Our second team will play in the Sussex 2nd XI Div 2. They will be looking to gain promotion this year.

Our academy side will this year play in the West Sussex Invitation League division eight, following back-to-back promotions in the past two years.

Which match are you most looking forward to? We have no derbies but our nearest opponents are probably Billingshurst. We will be looking forward to all games – each will bring fresh and new challenges to us.

Any other club news? Generally the ground this year looks the best it ever has done, and much of that must go down to club member Peter Clark who has worked tirelessly over the past few years.

A vibrant junior section is headed by Brian Towner and his team of coaches. The juniors meet at Middleton Sports Club every Monday evening and welcome anyone that wants to go along and see what is going on.

Senior nets are at the club Wednesdays from 6.15pm; all new players interested in joining are welcome.

We are hosting an over-60s Test Match between England and Australia on Sunday, June 28.

Pagham

Division and finish last season: Div 3 winners

Division playing in this year: Div 2

Realistic hopes for season: Mid-table

First XI capt: Stuart Rutter

Players in: Stuart Hanks, Kevin Condon, Ashley Rule, Ben Fuente and Eranga

Players who have left: Nilushan Nunis

A word about other XIs: The 2nd XI are hoping to push for a higher-placed finish this season with players returning from injury and some new blood.

Which match are you most looking forward to? All of them!

Any other club news? Pagham will have covers for the new season.

Chichester Priory Park

Division and finish last season: Sussex League Div 2 – relegated

Division playing in this year: Sussex Div 3

Realistic hopes for season: Hope to challenge for promotion.

First XI capt: Matt Geffen

Players in: Daniel Weigl (Geelong, Australia), Josh Bateman, Leo Beal, James Chriss, Mark Bamford, James Stedman, John Edwards, Peter Lamb

Players who have left: Beck Hemingway, Jay Hartard

A word about other XIs: All other teams hoping to challenge for promotion – the second XI in Sussex 2nd XI Div 2, the thirds in Invitation Div 6 and the fourths in Invitation Div 10.

Which match are you most looking forward to? Looking forward to an exciting start in the league T20 competition on Saturday versus Wisborough Green.

Any other club news? We are looking forward to seeing our younger cricketers develop and come through into the senior ranks, providing reward for the past 12 years of investment in our youth section.

Bognor

Division and finish last season: Sussex League Div 3 – 3rd place

Division playing in this year: Div 3

Realistic hopes for season: Promotion, targeting a top-two finish.

First XI capt: Luke Seward

Players in: Zayne Bux is back as overseas player and has taken on role as player/coach and academy development.

Players who have left: Louis Paul has dropped down to West Sussex Invitation League to join Aldwick.

A word about other XIs: Our second XI are targeting promotion and the title in the second XI division three west – they were runners-up in that division last year.

Which match are you most looking forward to? Chichester Priory Park home and away; the home fixture on June 13 is also our patrons’ day so will be a great occasion. The last game of season away to Crawley Eagles could also be crucial.

Any other club news? We will be running four senior men’s teams this year, including a full Sunday fixture card and a midweek T20 team.

Our colts section continues to thrive; it is fully-accredited with “Clubmark” and eight coaches. We are investing £3,000 in the refurbishment of our practice facility, and have gained several new sponsors.

We have a five-year development plan to bring the ground up to Gold standard, (we were named most improved ground in 2014 by the Sussex Premier League), and want to be pushing for premier-division status by 2020.

By re-recruiting Zayne Bux as our overseas player and player coach, with particular responsibility for academy player development, the club continue to strengthen our player pathway for the long term. New players, or volunteers are always welcome, contact Mike Broad mike@mikebroad.com or via www.sbbcc.play-cricket.com

Stirlands

Division and finish last season: Relegated from Sussex Div 3

Division playing in this year: Sussex Div 4

Realistic hopes for season: To have a solid season and push for promotion back into division three.

First XI capt: Paul Dorkings

Players in: Charlie Stoop, Francois Hurley (overseas from Barbados), plus the welcome return of John F Fuller.

Players who have left: Stuart Hanks leaves us to play at Pagham – we wish him every success, apart from the first game of the season when we face them in the 20/20 competition

A word about other XIs: Torquil Deacon leads the 2nd XI, their outlook is the same as the first XI, looking to play positive cricket with the right attitude. Charlie Hunt will lead the Sunday XI – this might prove to be a slightly less intense affair than the Saturday fixtures.

Which match are you most looking forward to? We are looking forward to a new set of challenges for the new season. I (Paul Dorkings) will look forward to playing the sides I have not played against before – Rye and Hellingly are stand-out fixtures.

Any other club news? We bid farewell to Andy Heather who retires as our club groundsman – after many years of tremendous service he can enjoy retirement.

Adam Norris has taken over from Andy and the ground is looking great. We have had two warm-up games where we have played Gosport and Waterlooville. The most recent game finished a tie with both sides reaching 191 in 40 overs.

West Sussex Invitation League

Aldwick

Division and finish last season: Seconnd in Invitation Div 3

Division playing in this year: Invitation Div 2

Realistic hopes for season: Top-half – possible promotion.

First XI capt: Joel Lodge

Players in: Louis Paul (from Bognor CC), Billy Turner-Hogg, possible overseas recruit Kabir Hossain (Bangladesh)

Players who have left: None

A word about other XIs: The second XI will be aiming for a top-half finish in Invitation Div 6. Skipper Dion Sampson continues to oversee the developing Sunday Acorns.

Which match are you most looking forward to? Eastergate and the new 20/20 competition

Any other club news? We’re preparing to build a new pavilion at the end of the season. We’ve just taken over the running of the ground and the wicket from the local council with a secured lease.

Eastergate

Division and finish last season: West Sussex Invitation Div 3 champions.

Division playing in this year: Invitation Div 2.

Realistic hopes for season: Mid-table consolidation.

First XI capt: Jack Stannard.

Players in: None – last year’s 1st X1 squad remain intact. Plenty of young players coming through the ranks and ready to play senior cricket.

Players who have left None.

A word about other XIs: Second XI are looking for promotion to Invitation Div 6. We are also playing in the Invitation League T20 Sunday Cup.

Which match are you most looking forward to? Our opener this Saturday at home to Scaynes Hill, plus derby league matches against Aldwick and Clymping.

Any other club news? We are being assessed for Clubmark re-accreditation in 2015. Two of our players have recently achieved their UKCC level two coaching certificate, Dan Jadzevics and Steve Grant.

We have a number of young players who continue to achieve area, county, and national recognition. Cricket training takes place at Eastergate on Thursday evenings for senior players and young players aged 13 and above, and on Saturday mornings for young players aged 12 and below.

Selsey

Last season: Second bottom of Invitation League Div 2

This season: Invitation Div 3

Realistic hopes for season: To be competitive in the division and regroup after a couple of tough seasons. Also looking to develop some of the younger players for the future and playing in a relaxed manner with freedom.

1st XI Capt: Nic Nolan

Players in: Josh Stocks returns from travelling.

Players out: None

Other teams: 2nd XI in division nine of the Invitation League. Their captain is Dave Clarke and they’ll be trying to gain promotion.

Matches looking forward to: The derby with West Wittering, but we look forward to every game.

Club news: We are running a t20 Friday league this season with a small number of clubs taking part. There is a great deal of work going on behind the scences regarding the future of the club both on and off the field.

We have Neil Sherlock as director of cricket with his main role of helping organise structured coaching sessions for the colts to help their progression. Ashley Humpries is Sunday captain.

Nic Nolan’s main aim this season for the senior sides to enjoy their cricket and look at pushing the younger players through for the future. We look forward to the season. We have started well with the first XI winning pre-season friendlies against Comptonand Gosport.

The Sunday side, after losing to Bognor, have responded brilliantly by beating Littlehampton and Aldwick.

West Wittering CC

Division and finish last season: Invitation Div 4 champions

Division playing in this year: Div 3

Realistic hopes for season: Promotion for fifth year in a row.

First XI capt: Carl Tupper

Players in: Andy Priest, Johnny Brilus, Dwight Hosken

Players who have left: None

A word about other XIs: Second XI hoping to gain promotion for third straight year into Invitation Div 7.

Which match are you most looking forward to? Himani – we played them in 2009 in Div 7. Now we’re both in Div 3.

Any other club news?

We’re always looking for umpires, who will be generously rewarded! There’s a new Sunday academy side in action to keep the 14-plus-year-olds playing. Juniors aged seven to 15 train on Fridays at 6pm.

Hampshire League

Salthill

Division and finish last season: Hampshire League Regional Div 2 South mid-table

Division playing in this year: Hampshire League Regional Div 2 South

Realistic hopes for season: Mid-table

First XI capt: Ashley Court, with Scott Richardson as vice-captain. The young players are now being given the opportunity.

Players in: None at present

Players who have left: Jamie Heather has gone to Australia

Which match are you most looking forward to? Solent Rangers and Bosham have been promoted and we have local derbies.

Any other club news?. Sponsor soon to be announced. Club open day this year is August 16.

Our Sunday captain is Scott Wilson, another young player with great hope for the future. Into the Sunday team come Dave Wells and Dean Hamilton.