Champions! Priory take cricket title on thrilling last day
They've done it - Chichester Priory Park became champions of division three of the Sussex League on a dramatic final day of the season.
An excellent, consistent season saw Chichester finish with 400 points and 12 victories.
The team showed resilience that was lacking in previous years, grinding out victories in matches they would have lost before.
There’s plenty to work on for the team, especially in the batting department, but for now Chichester Priory Park will enjoy their victory and the division-three title as they look forward to a new challenge in division two in 2018.
Going into the final match of a year in which they made history by making Goodwood their main base for home league games, Chichester sat in second place in the division and in prime position to obtain promotion.
Their opponents were third-placed Crawley Eagles who were 16 points behind them, making this a winner-takes-all game at Goodwood. Crawley won the toss and elected to bat first. They made a good start to their innings with Atique Rehman and Tanveer Haider combining well at the top of the batting order.
Nerves were jangling around Goodwood as they reached 120 for two inside 30 overs. Playing his final game for the club, New Zealander Abz Patel removed Rehman (45) then Haider (34) in a couple of overs to knock the stuffing out of the Eagles.
They never recovered with only Usman Bashir (25) making a significant contribution to the total. The last five batsmen contributed just three runs between them as Dan Joseph blew away the tail.
He took three wickets in one over to finish with five for 28 as Eagles were dismissed with 173.
Batting has been a weakness for Chichester all year so the chase was never going to be an easy one for the hosts. The top order made it more difficult by failing to generate significant runs as Chichester stumbled to 71 for five, still 103 from victory.
Taking ownership of the chase, Ben Caldera (59 not out) kept his head and settled a few nerves on the sidelines. Caldera and Patel (31) reduced the number of runs required to 53 before Patel was bowled by Tanveer Haider.
The previous meeting between these two sides went down to the final wicket but Johnny Heaven (29 not out) and Caldera ensured there would be no repeat of the early-season drama.
Heaven hit a huge six that nearly cleared the ancient tree in the grounds before clipping the winning runs to seal a six-wicket victory and promotion for Chichester.
The party was already in full swing when news came from the game involving Haywards Heath. The leaders at the start of day had lost – meaning that Chichester go up to division two as champions.
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