The only way is up for Chichester and Stirlands

Stirlands' 2011 line-up

Stirlands' 2011 line-up

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Chichester and Stirlands are looking for quick improvements after beginning their seasons with back-to-back defeats.

Mark Bamford’s Premier League outfit were left contemplating missed opportunities as they lost a game they perhaps could and should have won at Brighton.

And in division two, Stirlands’ batting let them down again as they crashed to a ten-wicket defeat at home to Cuckfield.

Bamford was a little undecided at the toss but opted to field first. The pitch looked good and was certainly the best one that Chichester have played on at the Nevill Sports ground in the past five years or so.

However the promise of the Spanish plume bringing yet more rain during the afternoon ultimately persuaded Bamford to field.

The rain didn’t arrive until the evening, but the decision to field first appeared to have been vindicated as the home side slumped to 34 for four as Richard Logan (4-54) and Richard Browning (1-29) exploited the pace and bounce in the wicket profitably.

After a mini recovery was staged a further two wickets fell, which left Brighton exposed at 90 for six and at that point Chichester must have thought they would be chasing something in the region of a maximum of 150. But Craig Young (53) and Guy Williamson (61) scored freely and put Brighton back into the game.

Brighton were eventually bowled out for 246, a score Chichester would have been confident of achieving. Unfortunately a couple of early wickets dented their chances and despite good performances from debutant George Stephens (43) and Logan (46) wickets continued to fall at fairly regular intervals, mainly because of the bowling of Chris Atherton (6-61).

Run rate was not an issue, but the inability of any of the Chichester batsmen to go on a make the match-winning score resulted in victory being handed to Brighton as Chichester closed on 183 with 11 overs remaining.

Clearly, the batting needed to be better, but Brighton should not have reached 246 and that is where the game was lost.

Meanwhile, Stirlands’ batting once again failed them against a spirited Cuckfield side at Birdham. Overnight showers and morning rain cleared to leave a bright afternoon and play started on time after Stirlands stand-in captain Nick Hunt won the toss and elected to bat first on a good-looking pitch.

However, that was as good as it got for Stirlands, who were aiming to bounce back after a poor showing at Bexhill the previous weekend when a batting collapse cost them dear.

A good start from Hunt and Andy Isaac was crucial but Stirlands lost Isaac early and next man Martin Ballands was soon back in the pavilion having been run out.

It was the start of a procession of wickets. Batsmen came and went at regular intervals, and Stirlands were left reeling at 38 for eight when Christian Fallick was struck on the toe by a full delivery from Bowman and given out lbw.

Patterson and Bowman ran amok, taking five for 33 and four for 26 respectively, their bowling posing the batting side problems throughout.

At 49 for nine, Jon Phillmore showed some fight, scoring a quickfire 21, and putting on 20 for the last wicket with Dan Beal.

But that was the highest partnership of the innings and Stirlands were bowled out for 69 inside 27 overs.

At the interval, Stirlands knew it would take a phenomenal bowling performance to salvage anything from the game.

There was no lack of trying. Alex Garlick ran in hard and bowled with speed and skill but for little reward, with a number of close lbw decisions frustratingly turned down.

Luck wasn’t on Stirlands’ side as edges failed to go to fielders and the modest total to chase down allowed Mole (40no) and Hough (30no) to play with freedom. The target was reached without losing a wicket. It has been an extremely tough start to the season for Stirlands, playing the two sides who have come down from the Premier League and having a number of players unavailable.

However, they know their performances have not been good enough, and with just two points from a possible 60 so far, nothing less than a win at St James will do on Saturday.