Chichester held out for a draw when defeat had looked inevitable - while Stirlands won again and landed maximum points.
Here are the latest reports from the two teams - and don’t forget you can get all the local cricket reports, fixtures, results and tables in the Chi Observer every Thursday.
Haywards Heath v Chichester Priory Park
Chichester Priory Park had to be content with a draw as their fine season’s start continued.
Hosts Haywards Heath are just behind Chichester in the standings and on their own run of good form. It was a hot day and the pitch looked extremely flat and Haywards Heath captain Callum Smith elected to bat.
Haywards Heath’s batting is anchored by opener Jonny Phelps and Chichester had a chance to remove him early when Abz Patel found the outside edge of his bat in the fifth over. The chance was missed by the wicketkeeper and slip, giving Phelps a lifeline that he gratefully took.
The opener flayed the visitors’ attack to all parts of the ground, amassing 84 off 70 balls. He looked in excellent form so it came as a shock when he miscued a low full toss off the Jay Hartard’s bowling straight into the hands of a fielder.
Haywards Heath were already on 143 for two inside 23 overs and looked on target for a huge score. To Chichester’s credit they battled away in the draining heat and did well to slow the momentum by taking wickets just as the batsmen appeared to get their eye in.
Hartard in particular is worth highlighting, bowling 15 overs straight to pick up four for 66. Isaac Leckie (69) kept the score ticking over and when his wicket fell, Smith declared on 261 for seven from 50 overs.
After being in the field for several hours, it was inevitable Chichester would lose a couple of early wickets. With both openers back in the pavilion and the score on 21 for two, an early finish appeared to be on the cards.
The visitors kept fighting and at one point, they were well up with the required run rate thanks to Simon Hasted (26) and Hartard (28). Unfortunately the loss of those wickets plus Alex Pendle left Chichester on 96 for five with half the innings still to bat.
The visitors found a couple of cool heads in the heat in the form of Patel (53no) and Johnny Heaven (55no). It wasn’t all plain sailing though – Heaven was dropped twice in one over and on a few occasions both batsmen chipped the ball up just short of fielders.
In the end, the pair ground down the home bowlers as they wilted in the sun. An unbroken stand of 115 between Patel and Heaven saw Chichester through to close on 211 for five as the match ended in a draw.
The result showed Chichester have the mental strength to fight when the chips are down. The 11 points keeps them in third place, just behind Pagham. That gives extra spice to the two teams’ derby in Priory Park this Saturday.
Stirlands v East Grinstead
Off the back of a high-scoring draw the previous week, Stirlands returned to their home patch on a scorching day and chalked up another big total – and a full allocation of points.
The home side set about restricting time spent in the sun, bowling extremely tight lines and frustrating the EG opening batsmen.
Stirlands’ overseas player Jamaine Bullen charged in, finding pace and bounce in the deck and claiming two early wickets, both taken by George Coles behind the stumps.
David Briance kept the squeeze on at the other end and was rewarded for his efforts, bowling Guy Denham for 15. George Briance replaced Bullen and East Grindstead were unable to manoeuvre the ball through the gaps.
Ben Henderson and Archie Turner both fell victim to George Briance’s slow left armers, smartly stumped by Coles down the leg side for 26 and bowled for 17 respectively.
David Briance bowled a spell of 18 overs from the Church End in the searing heat with very miserly figures and picked up the wicket of Max Stow for a duck, caught by Coles.
Bullen cleaned up the tail, having Lee Granger caught by Michael Clowes in the covers for 53, Samuel Jackson caught by Coles for 20, Bloggs bowled for 7 and Nicky Chaudhuri caught for 0. The visitors ended on 158 all out of 51 overs, Bullen finishing with six for 52.
In-form George Briance and the returning Leo Wilkinson-Beal opened the innings. A growing stand was ended as Wilkinson-Beal was bowled for four byGranger, bringing in Tim Robinson, making a return to the game after time out.
George Briance missed a full toss and was adjudged lbw to Granger for 23, with Robinson falling shortly after for 13.
At 50-odd for three Coles joined Torquil Deacon and they rebuilt the innings and settled the nerves as the total ticked past 100.
Deacon and Coles hit some lusty blows to wrap up the victory and the 30 points, Coles finishing on 69* and Deacon 36*.
Stirlands this week host Horsham II.
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