The Sussex Cricket League season is boiling up nicely - here are the latest reports from our local clubs in the top five divisions, with Middleton, Chichester, Bognor, Stirlands, Pagham and West Wittering all in action in the latest round of games.
Middleton v Preston Nomads
Middleton found the visitors too strong on a hot afternoon at home to Preston Nomads.
Preston Nomads won the toss and decided to bat first with the wicket looking full of runs.
Their innings was very much one of two halves, and at 62-5 Middleton found themselves in the driving seat.
Bowler Russell Talman with an opening spell of 3-31 was the main wicket-taker. The fall of the fifth wicket brought together Kashif Ibrahim and Tim Moses, who proceeded to put on 154.
Moses was finally out in the 57th over for 89 and Ibrahim finished 71 not out as Nomads closed their innings on 231-6.
The majority of the Middleton top order batters made good starts to their innings but each then fell to poor shots, with only Mahesh Rawat going on to convert his start to a score of 71.
Middleton lost their last six wickets for just 57 and were finally 181 all out with Rawat undefeated on 71.
Haywards Heath v Chichester
Sussex League Division 2
Chichester held out for a draw to claim nine points from their trip to third-placed Haywards Heath.
Another hot, sunny and sweltering day greeted the players together with a flat-looking wicket. Home captain Callum Smith won the toss and elected to bat.
The visitors began well with the ball, removing Heath’s overseas player Alistair Templeton with just two runs on the board.
Two further wickets followed as the hosts wobbled on 56-3. In the midst of the falling wickets, opener Jonny Phelps looked in ominous form as he often tends to against Chichester.
Phelps (106) and Ollie Bailey put on 112 for the fourth wicket with the opener notching a century. Bailey (88) added a quickfire 86 for the fifth wicket with Ben Matthew (42no).
When Bailey departed, Haywards Heath declared on 254-5, giving Chichester a reasonable 50 overs to chase down the target.
The chase began badly as opener Sam Caldera fell with just 10 scored. The second-wicket pair of Simon Hasted and Matt Bennison put on 154 for the second wicket as Chichester began to sense an almost-impossible victory.
The heat began to take its toll on the batsmen. A tired-looking Bennison (72) misjudged a delivery from Smith and the ball clattered on to his stumps.
This triggered a flurry of wickets as Chichester desperately tried to stay on top of the run rate. Hasted (101) notched up the second century of the game before he was the eighth man out.
The ninth wicket fell in the penultimate over and suddenly the hosts sensed victory. But last man Alex Pegg batted out the final over as Chichester held out for a draw, ending on 223-9.
Chichester took nine points but other results saw them drop to seventh, 26 points above the drop zone. This week sees the return to win-lose cricket for the final four games.
Chichester travel to Ansty for an important match – a win could put some space between Chichester and relegation; a defeat could see them dragged into a tense scrap for survival.
Bognor v Three Bridges
A blistering day at the Regis Oval saw Bognor extend their winning run against league leaders Three Bridges.
Fielding first, the pace of jolly Jamaican Marquino Mindley was as hot as the weather in taking 6-30 as the visitors were bowled out for 154, Luke Bellars top-scoring for Three Bridges with 47.
Bognor replied with vim and vigour and on 113-1 were well positioned with skipper Ryan Maskell making 48 and the ever-lively Josh Seward 50.
However, drama ensued as Bognor slipped to 145-9 as Michael Rose took 4-39. This didn’t deter the impish Joel Baker who along with Scott Bingham saw them over the line to a one-wicket win.
Another Sussex star extends contract
Findon v Stirlands
Div 3 West
Stirlands travelled to Findon in search of a win and 30 points – but had a real off-day.
They won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch that looked green.
A cautious start from Will Gubbins and Adam Downing was soon cut short as Downing shouldered arms to a ball that was crashing into middle stump.
Returning captain George Coles replicated the trick to the in-swinging bowling of Curtis Howell and was on his way back for a first-ball duck.
Jamaine Bullen survived Howell’s hat-trick bid and struck it for a boundary, but more excellent bowling reduced the visitors to 34-5 as Howell claimed the first five wickets.
Despite a run-a-ball 19 from Jake Moores, Liam Freeman picked up the final five wickets and Stirlands were all out for 68.
Stirlands knew early wickets would be key but the departure of the home side’s captain at 26-1 did not spark the collapse needed.
Findon completed the nine-wicket victory in the 15th over to pick up all 30 points.
This week sees Stirlands head to Worthing searching for a much-improved batting display.
Slinfold v Pagham
Div 3 West
Pagham’s slender hopes of gaining promotion were dealt a major blow at Slinfold.
Batting first Pagham struggled to 94-4 but a typically belligerent innings of 61 from Rico Webb and 32 from Richard Bird saw them get to 206-9.
Guy Thorne took a magnificent 8-66 for the home team.
Slinfold’s reply slipped to 11-4 but Thorne followed up his bowling efforts with a forceful 59 not out.
He was ably supported by Imran Shah who ended on 48 not out. Slinfold reached their target with six wickets and seven overs in hand.
Leaders are beaten
West Wittering v East Preston
Div 5 West
Wittering were asked to field and Harry Staight (2-49) wasted no time getting his name in the book, with EP captain Gary Weedon caught by Mark Taylor at square leg from the second ball.
Louis Storey and Paul McCafferty took the score to 76 before McCafferty (37) fell to Staight, caught by Johnny Miller at slip. Storey was supported by Jack Sunderland (32) until he was clean-bowled by Joe Sissons (2-28).
Storey reached his century but was removed by a diving catch by James Munro at mid-wicket for 102. Matt Jewiss (3-42) was the pick of the bowlers, while good fielding helped restrict East Preston to 218-8.
WW openers Taylor and Gareth Lendrum came out flying, taking the score to 69 before Lendrum (37) was caught. Taylor followed for 30. Miller (14) and Carl Tupper (19) got bogged down with tight bowling from Lucy Uncles (2-32) and runs were not flowing so freely.Tupper looked to up the run-rate and was caught in the process.
In-form Brandon Trimmer joined Miller and top-scored with a rapid-fire 48, but was bowled – to an almighty cheer from the East Preston players, who knew that it was a huge wicket for them.
Munro (12) and Sissons (11*) chipped in and batted well at the death, but Wittering fell just 16 runs short of the competitive total and ran East Preston closer than any other team this season. Wittering sit third with four games left.