Cricket: Your club-by-club guide to the new season in West Sussex

Middleton celebrate last season's promotion to the premier division
Middleton celebrate last season's promotion to the premier division

Summer’s on the way – and cricket is back.

Local leagues swing into action over the next two weekends and the Observer will be following the action throughout what promises to be an exciting season.

With a new-look divisional structure and some new match rules in the Sussex League, it will be interesting to see which of our local sides can prosper.

To get you in the mood for the the campaign, we bring you a club-by-club guide to who’s playing where, which new players to look for and what each team is aiming for.

SUSSEX LEAGUE

Middleton

After calling Priory Park home for more than 150 years, they have a new headquarters for the coming season.

Division and finishing position last season – Promoted from division two

Division this season – Sussex Premier League

Realistic aim for season – The club are looking forward once again to the challenges of Premier League cricket.

Capt – Sean Heather

New players – Nick Smith joins from Eastergate, where his talented all-round play got him noticed by Sussex, while Gerhardt Abrahams, a talented middle order batter currently playing first-class cricket for Northern Cape in South Africa, is coming over for first season in the UK. And Angus Robson, a highly-talented batter released by Leicestershire and seeking a new start with Sussex CCC,

Other news – The second XI slot into the new structure in Division 5 West.

The club are looking forward to seeing how the new-look Sussex League works. Major rule changes see limited-overs cricket introduced for 50 per cent of games, and a restructure that means second teams will play in the same leagues as first teams for the first time in the league’s history.

Bognor

Division and finishing position last season – 1st XI Div 2, 7th / 2nd XI – Div 3 West, 6th

Division this season – 1st XI Div 2 / 2nd Div 6th West

Realistic aim for season – 1st XI top four / 2nd XI league champions

Capt – 1st XI Max Ashmore / 2nd XI management team Bernie Burns & Andy Lee

New players – Scott Bingham (Aldwick); Josh Sargeant (Aldwick); Joel Baker (Findon); Charlie La Foret, Marques Clarke (overseas).

Players who have left – Ryan Maskell (Horsham); Graham Bush (retired); Zayne Bux.

Other news – The club have two new sightscreens – and one new chairman, Bernard Burns.

Chichester Priory Park

Division and finishing position last season – Division three, 3rd

Division this season – Division three

Realistic aim for season –They expect to mount a strong challenge for promotion this year after going close in the previous two years.

There are even faint whispers about winning the title.

Capt – Matt Geffen

New players – Abhishek Patel from New Zealand is the overseas player.

The left-arm fast bowler will add to one of the more formidable bowling attacks in the division.

Young batsman Jay Hartard – after a couple of years with Billingshurst – found the call of Chichester too hard to resist .

Other news – The 2017 season is the beginning of a new era for CPP. After calling Priory Park home for more than 150 years, they have a new headquarters for the coming season.

During the winter an alliance between Chichester Priory Park and Goodwood Cricket Club was announced which will see all first and second XI home matches take place outside the city... and in the shadow of the magnificent Goodwood House. The ultimate aim of the partnership is to provide a centre of excellence for the county; both clubs have big plans for the coming years.

Pagham

Division and finishing position last season – Div 2 bottom place (11th)

Division this season – Div 3

Realistic aim for season – Top-half finish

Capt – Stuart Hanks (who has taken over from Stuart Rutter)

New players – Ollie Pearce; Aiden Zammit (Australian overseas)

Players who have left – Mikey Hales (moved to Australia)

Stirlands

Division and finishing position last season – Old Division 4, 2nd

Division this season – New-look Div 4

Realistic aim for season – Promotion is the target and early wins, momentum and confidence can lay the groundwork for a this 
dream to be realised in September, says skipper George Coles.

Capt – 1st XI - George Coles / 2nd XI Matt James

New players – Ian Gooding returns after spending the past couple of seasons playing for Worthing.

Ex-Middlesex & Hampshire pro Raj Maru has signed as player/coach and Tom Atkins has signed from Southern Premier League club Lymington.

Any other news – Coles says: “The 2017 season is anticipated with great excitement and intrigue at how far this club can go.

“There is a great balance in the club of experienced club cricketers and emerging and maturing young talent.

“The restructuring of the league system itself brings its own challenges and questions, but these will be readily embraced as Stirlands strive for greater success.

“The growing pool of players breeds an exciting air of competition for places, providing a healthy environment in which players can showcase their skills and challenge for those 11 spots.

“Last year’s success has given the club the confidence it needs to push Stirlands back up the league table.”

WEST SUSSEX INVITATION LEAGUE

Eastergate

Division and finishing position last season – 1st X1 finished third in first season in Div 1

Division this season – 1st X1 in Div 1, 2nd X1 in Div 5 (having been promoted from Div.6)

Realistic aim for season – 1st X1 top-three finish, 2nd X1 promotion to Div 4

Captain – Jamie Murphy (1st XI), Jon Dakic (2nd XI). Club captain – Ian Paine.

New players – Jordan Samad (from Banyule CC, Melbourne, Australia), Alex de la Fuente (from Slindon).

Players who have left – Nick Smith (to Middleton), Justin Poyser (to Australia).

Other news – Eastergate continue to see the benefits of a successful junior system, with a further four or five young players pushing for first and second XI places. Invitation League fixtures start this Saturday. Ted Richards is the new club president and the annual Presidents’ Day is at home to Goodwood CC on June 25.

Selsey

Division and finishing position last season – 1st XI Division 2, 6th

Division this season – Division 2

Realistic aim for season – Mid-table at least for the first XI.

Capt – 1st XI, Jim Amis; 2nd XI – Adrian Townshend

Any other news – They are actively trying to recruit new players, and hope to find a manager and coach to help the continued survival of the Colts team.

They also hope to resurrect the ladies team so they can play league and cup cricket, but the ladies will play evening friendlies.

West Wittering 1st XI

Division and finishing position last season – Division 3 champions.

Division this season – Division 2

Realistic aim for season – Promotion

Capt – Carl Tupper

New players –They welcome back long armed paceman Steve Day.

Any other news – The club run a Sunday academy team for friendlies. They’ll have a record number of junior teams at U9, U10, U12 and U15, plus WWCC is an All Stars Cricket Centre on a Wednesday (4-5pm) – See www.allstarscricket.co.uk

Aldwick

Division and finishing position last season – Div 2, relegated (2nd XI Division 6, 6th place)

Division this season – Div 3 (2nd XI, Div 6)

Realistic aim for season – Promotion but may difficult after losing top players.

Capt – Alex Cooper

New players – Ed White

Players who have left – Adam and Dan Robinson to Chips; Josh Sargeant & Scott Bingham to Bognor.

Any other news – Club are playing with no pavilion but thanks go to Predators FC for lending their facilities so they can fulfil their fixtures. After the fire, there is a determination to rebuild.

West Wittering 2nd

Division and finishing position last season – Division 7 runners-up

Division this season – WSICL Division 6

Realistic aim for season – Mid-table mediocrity

Capt – Mark Brien

I’ANSON LEAGUE

Midhurst

Division and finishing position last season – Division 5 champions

Division this season – Division 4

Realistic aim – To finish in the top three

Captain – Tim Dixon

New players – Rob Doick from Linton Park CC

Other news – Midhurst CC will this season be involved in All Stars Cricket, an exciting initiative aimed at five to eight-year-olds.

This will be run for a weeks starting on Friday, May 19 for eight weeks and will cost £45 per child. For more and to register your child, visit www.ecb.co.uk/allstarscricket or contact Simon Flint on 01730 816465.

HAMPSHIRE LEAGUE

Emsworth

Division and finishing position last season – Div 4 South, 3rd

Division playing in this season – Div 4 South

Realistic aim for season – Promotion/title

Capt – Barrie James

New players – Bidbury team from same division have folded but Emsworth have taken on five of their top players – Ant Norris, Rob Norris, Lewis Roberts, Stu Parsons and Sam Worsley.

Any other news – First outing in the National Village Cup comes away to Hursley Park this Sunday. They are about five divisions higher so Emsworth are very much the underdogs.

The club have a new and exciting (well, new) Twitter account @EmsworthCricket that they’ll try to keep ticking over with results and other important news.

Emsworth 2nd XI

Division and finishing position last season – 4th in Regional Division 2 South

Division playing in this season – Regional Division 1 South East

Realistic aim for season - Top half

Capt – Dermot Lewis

New players – Ben Cowdry, Marcus Baldwin, Paul Strickland

Players who have left – Mark Windebank, Sanjay Suresh, James Johnson.

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