ON THE hottest day of 2012. Slinfold provided a picture-perfect venue for Middleton to record another win to stay top - and therefore in promotion contention - in division three west.
Slinfold made one of the sporting gestures of the season by winning the toss and giving Middleton a choice – and the visitors elected to field.
It was a bemusing tactic from Slinfold which left people questioning the thinking behind it.
Middleton reduced the home side to 50 for five, but Slinfold were still smashing the ball to all parts and their run-rate didn’t fall below six an over for the first hour.
Slinfold recovered well, making Middleton work in the field as they stole singles and boundaries at regular intervals.
The home side were eventually bowled out for 187. Guy Thorne top-scored with 54 while Hayden Mcintyre scored an explosive 28 after taking a liking to Tom Davies’ bowling.
Six catches were taken and there was a stunning run-out from Will Searle. The Slinfold innings included 41 extras, an inexcusable total for a table-topping team.
In the remaining fixtures Middleton need to be wary of giving away free runs as it could cost them.
Middleton skipper Brandon Hanley finished with five for 45 from 14 overs.
The innings again highlighted a worrying lack of depth in Middleton’s attack as the captain relied on semi-retired Chris Spedding to clean up the tail.
The experienced all-rounder took two wickets while only conceding four runs in his five-over spell. Searle picked up two wickets.
Hansford and Lerwill provided the foundation for the Middleton innings, smashing the bowlers to all parts.
Lerwill fell for a quickfire 30 before Ed Towner looked to build a partnership with Hansford.
Both batsmen found their stride, taking advantage of some fairly average bowling.
The pair put on 103 before Towner was trapped lbw on 53, leaving Middleton just ten to win.
Hansford finished eight short of his second league century of the campaign.
Slinfold off-spinner Harrison Webb took both Middleton wickets.
This victory was effectively nullified as title rivals Billingshurst also took full points, ensuring the title will be decided in the last two fixtures of the year.