Season’s shaping up to be a thriller for Middleton

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Middleton got their season off to a winning start in a thriller at home to Arundel in Sussex division three west.

The home side went close to throwing away a game in which they were in a comfortable position, but credit must also go to Arundel for a fine fightback that took the match to the very last ball.

Having been put in, Arundel’s opening pair of Murray and Clark got the innings off to a solid start while Middleton’s opening bowlers looked a little rusty – but it wasn’t long before they were getting into the swing of things.

Seb Gallagher picked up his first wicket for Middleton when Clark tried to pull one that was quicker than anticpated. Rawstrone was in on the act when he tempted Nair to play down the wrong line and was well caught by Jason Seary.

Keelan Sanders and Murray compiled a good partnership, looking comfortable on a good track and taking the score to 68.

The introduction of Jamie Thompson changed the course of the innings: he bowled with pace and guile, picking up four wickets in an excellent 15-over spell and was unlucky not to get more.

Runs became harder to come by, but the Arundel middle order stuck to their task and batted out their overs to finish on 160 for nine.

Chasing below-par totals can be challenging, but the nature of Middleton’s run chase will concern them.

Ben Hansford was first to go with a rash stroke having blundered 22 from 12 balls before Jason Seary and Will Burrows put together a patient partnership of 48, with both looking in little trouble until Neil Chitty was introduced. Chitty’s success was almost instant as Seary chipped a short one straight to extra-cover and was well caught by Rohan Ardley.

Burrows was joined by Gallagher and, with the pair taking Middleton past the 100 mark with plenty of overs to spare, victory looked in little doubt.

However, excellent bowling from the Chitty father-and-son combination, Neil and Ryan, saw them slump to 126 for seven.

Ed Towner and Sean Rebbetts put together a vital partnership to take Middleton within striking distance before Ryan Chitty struck again.

Fourteen were needed off three overs but young Harrison Temple came back into the attack and bowled with excellent control.

In the last over, with Temple bowling, Middleton needed five to win. He bowled three dot balls before Rawstrone scrambled a single.

Towner hit the next ball for three before the pair ran a leg-bye off of the last ball to secure victory, which was tough on Arundel, who had fought their way back into it magnificently.

For Middleton, an excellent 22 not out from Towner, well-supported by the tail, was crucial.