West Sussex sides hoping for cricket season of success

Middleton CC's class of 2012, who won promotion to Sussex League division two  Picture by Kate Shemilt
Middleton CC's class of 2012, who won promotion to Sussex League division two Picture by Kate Shemilt

May has begun and cricket fans can come out of hibernation for another summer - hopefully one containing lessof the wet stuff than last year’s.

The local cricket season begins this Saturday when Sussex League teams play their opening games, while other leagues get under way a week later.

On this page, we look at our key local teams and their hopes and plans for the coming campaign.

We are looking to expand our local cricket coverage this season so, every Thursday in the Observer, you can expect to see the best of the reports and pictures - from league, village and friendly games - plus fixtures, results and tables.

We’ll also have plenty of the action on this website, where you’ll find a page giving easy links to all the local league standings and stats.

And if you’re a local team not currently included in our coverage, get in touch - email your reports and a team picture to steve.bone@chiobserver.co.uk. Teams sending in regular reports can expect a visit from an Observer photographer at some point during the season.

We ask that all reports are with us by Monday night to guarantee inclusion in that week’s paper.

Now sit back and find out how our top local sides - Chichester, Middleton, Bognor, Stirlands, Pagham, Midhurst, Emsworth, Aldwick and West Wittering - are shaping up for play to begin.

CHICHESTER

Division: Sussex Premier League

Last season: Seventh in premier

Realistic hope for this year: Top five

Captain: Richard Browning

Players in: Ashton Turner, Will Brewster

Players out: Adam Zampa, David Leaver.

Other news: New training facilities built with an inspired facilities grant.

MIDDLETON

Division: Sussex League div two

Last season: Winners of div three

Realistic hope for this year: Mid-table mediocrity

Captain: Brandon Hanley

Players in: Rob Willway (from Bognor), Kieren Jones (Colts Cricket Club, Perth), Holly Colvin (England)

Players out: None as yet

Other news... Matt Warren says: “We’re very much looking forward to having another crack at division two this season. It looks a fairly challenging league on paper and, because of that, our realistic goals for the season are difficult to quantify.

“We want to do better than we did last time, so that means staying up! Once we get beyond that it’s hard to predict what opportunities are available.

“I think five wins got teams relegated last year and seven got sides promoted! We’re excited about having Kieren Jones join us - he’s a young quick from Australia - and with Jamie Thompson back to full fitness (he bowled only one ball last year) as well as Rob Willway and Holly Colvin we believe that the competition for places in our bowling department will be much tougher which can only be a good thing.

“We also have our academy team up and running, so there are encouraging signs already, and a number of younger players have signed up to be a part of what is essentially our third team.”

BOGNOR

Division: Sussex div three west

Last season: Fourth in div three west

Realistic hope for this year: Top-five finish

Captain: Luke Seward (May-June), Elliott Clarke (July-September)

Players in: Louis Paul (Aldwick), Ryan Denyer (Pagham), Phil Harris (unattached)

Players out: Rob Willway (Middleton)

Other news... John Hooker said: “This season at the Regis Oval is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the past few years.

“Younger players are coming to the fore who will complement and challenge the established players, with all-rounders Mikey Harris, Louis Paul and Joe Ashmore pushing for first-team places.

“Overseas all-rounder Sam Taylor returns for another season from Australia and will team up again with established pacemen Jim Lee and Graham Bush.

“We also welcome back former player Ryan Denyer, who will add a wealth of experience to the team.

“Experienced batsman Phil Harris takes the reins in the second XI with up-and-coming players being given greater opportunities.

“I will continue the captaincy of the Sunday and midweek team, in which junior players will be given a taste of senior cricket.

“The club captain is Oliver Handson.

“Given the upcoming changes in the Sussex League structure, where the top five teams in both west and east divisions maintain their division-three status in 2014, a top-five finish is the aim for this season.

PAGHAM

Division: Sussex div three west

Last season: Sixth in div three west

Realistic hope for this year: With the addition or return of a few quality players, a top-half finish should be more than achievable providing form and fitness remain.

Captain: Stuart Rutter

Players in: Joe Metz, Chris Hayden, Dave Galea (absent in 2012) Dave Leader (Worthing), Nabib Rahman (Aldwick), Jamaul Fernandez (overseas from Leeward Islands).

Players out: Ryan Denyer (Bognor)

Other news... Paul Rutter said: “The second XI are looking for an umpire and more players are always welcome at a friendly club.”

STIRLANDS

Division: Sussex div three west

Last season: Fifth in div three west

Realistic hope for this year: Challenging for promotion.

Captain: Sean Heather

Players in: Anthony Butler (overseas), Anthony Ender, Leon Fourie, Matthew Hughes-Short, Tom Stride, Danny Graham, Jasper Willems, Sam Smith, Chris Saunders.

Other news... See lead story on this page.

MIDHURST

Division: Hampshire League div one

Last season: 14th

Realistic hope for this year: League winners

Captain: Tom Atkins

Players in: George Cussins

Players out: None

Other news... Tom Atkins says: “Last season, several young players were blooded into the first team. None was more impressive than the young leg spinner Alex Cox, who recorded seasons best figures of four for 23.

“I came second in league for the most runs scored, with Tim Powell coming in just below.

“With a talented crop of youngsters emerging and proven ability of several senior players, Midhurst can look forward to the forthcoming season with great hope.”

EMSWORTH

Division: Hampshire div four south

Last season: 15th in div four south

Realistic hope for this year: To stabilise and finish in the top half of the table, maybe challenging for promotion.

Captain: Mark Martin

Players in: Waiting on a couple of new players to strengthen first team.

Players out: None

Other news... Nick Webb said: “We’re expanding the kids’ club on Saturday mornings. Email kids@emsworthcricketclub.com if you’re interested.

“We’re looking for any ladies interested in playing to have some coaching this year, with a view to entering a league team in 2014.

“Our second team, led by Mark Windebank and Jack Mason, will play in Hampshire regional division three south east and the thirds, captained by Doug Dunn, will be in regional division four south east.”

SALTHILL

ALDWICK

Division: West Sussex Invitation div three

Last season: Won div four

Realistic hope for this year: Top five

Captain: Joel Lodge

Players in: Still in negotiation

Players out: Louis Paul (to Bognor), Andy Atkins (family commitments)

Other news... Richard Galvin says: ‘We are entering an important phase in Aldwick’s history with the development of the pavilion and a new permanent lease on the Felpham Oval being negotiated.

“Our second XI will again play in Invitation division seven, in which they finished fourth last year. The top five is their aim.”

WEST WITTERING

Division: West Sussex Invitation League div five

Last season: Champions of div six

Realistic hope for this year: Pushing for promotion for third year on the bounce, but a consolidation year would not be a bad thing.

Captain: Carl Tupper

Players in: Zak Impey, Shea Taylor, Kevin Alsobrook

Players out: Spike Western

Other news: West Wittering 2nd XI will again compete in Invitation League division ten, in which they finished in mid-tablein 2012, their first season.

Into that team will come young players from the club’s colts and they’ll be captained by Steve Clunie, with the aim of giving young players experience of league cricket, while pushing for promotion.