Middleton made to suffer... Chichester back on form

Pagham line up ahead of their game against Slinfold / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Pagham line up ahead of their game against Slinfold / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Action from the top five divisions of the Sussex Cricket League again features Middleton, Chi Priory park, Bognor, Stirlands, Pagham and West Wittering.

Read all the reports below and don’t miss the local cricket reports, pictures, tables fixtures and results in the observer every Thursday.

Preston Nomads v Middleton

Premier League

Middleton went down to a nine-wicket loss when they travelled to Preston Nomads.

For the first time this season skipper Sean Heather lost the toss, and Middleton were asked to bat.

The victory moved Chichester into mid-table and within touching distance of the top.

Heather opened with Josh Wood, the fourth opening pair that Middleton have tried this season as they seek a combination to give them a solid start. It was not to be this time, with both openers out quickly lbw, and the Middleton middle order was once again exposed just ten overs in.

There were three more lbws – the second time this season Middleton have been on the wrong end of five in their innings.

While wickets fell steadily at one end, Mahesh Rawat batted his way to 69 with a splendid array of shots all around the ground.

His timing and placement gave Middleton hope a large score might still be possible. But he was undone in an extraordinary over when Nomads overseas Blair Tickner returned for a second spell, bowled a ten-ball over which included four wides but also one that nipped back to bowl Rawat.

Patrick Colvin was the only other Middleton batsman to reach double figures and the innings closed in the 44th over for just 149.

Nomads opener Dan Phillips went hard at the ball from the start and was well supported by Nathan Poole. Phillips was first to his 50, followed by Poole, who was caught by Heather at slip off the bowling of Tommy Davies for 52.

That was the only wicket they lost and they reached the 150 they needed in the 29th over with Phillips 75 not out.

Middleton host Eastbourne at Sea Lane on Saturday, midday start.

Chichester v Haywards Heath

Division 2

Two heavy defeats in consecutive weeks had put a dent in any early-season momentum Chichester had built up and pressure was building on them to achieve a positive result.

Haywards Heath are the team Chichester snatched the division-three title away from last year. Heavy downpours during the week left the pitch very damp so there was disappointment from the hosts when visiting captain Callum Smith won the toss and opted to bowl first.

In almost a mirror image of the last home game, Chichester were three down with the total still in single figures. But then the hosts found a batsman, Matt Bennison (56), willing to tough it out and make the bowlers work for his wicket.

Bennison and Simon Hasted (16) put on more than 50 for the fifth wicket, frustrating Haywards Heath.

Despite the sunshine the wicket remained difficult to bat on and it was set to be a low-scoring affair. The visitors were left to rue the large number of wides bowled (25) and allowing the final-wicket pair of Dan Joseph and Matt Geffen to take 20 runs off the final few balls as they closed on 131-9.

Then it was Joseph’s (5-14) turn to inflict damage with the ball, dismantling Haywards Heath’s top order. The visitors’ scorecard looked fairly similar to Chichester as only Callum Smith (25) looked capable of managing the conditions.

When Joe De La Fuente castled him though just after drinks, victory was largely assured for Chichester. They duly obliged as Haywards Heath were bowled out for 74, giving Chichester victory by 57 runs and the maximum 30 points.

The victory moved Chichester into mid-table and within touching distance of the top. Chichester host Ansty at Goodwood this Saturday.

Three Bridges v Bognor

Division 2

After winning the toss and electing to field, Bognor made steady inroads into the hosts’ line-up with two wickets apiece for Rich Cox, Jamie Woolnough and the lively Marquino Mindley. But Josh Sargeant with 3-39 was the pick of the attack as Three Bridges were bowled out for 160.

It was not to be Bognor’s day as the hosts made regular breakthroughs. Apart from Charlie La Foret’s 40, none of Bognor’s batsmen got going. Bognor were bowled out for 99 with Michael Rose taking 4-13, Three Bridges winning by 61 runs.

Pagham v Slinfold

Div 3 West

Slinfold won at Pagham by seven wickets after bowling out their hosts for 158.

Ryan Barratt (34) was the only home batsman to get past 30 as four Slinfold bowlers took two wickets each.

When the visitors replied, Rico Webb took three for 45 but Mushal Murad’s 56 not out got Slinfold home.

Stirlands v Findon

Div 3 West

Stirlands got the better of Findon in a top-of-the-table clash at Church Lane.

Findon invited Stirlands to bat and they lost George Briance early for three, bowled via his thigh, and with Torquil Deacon caught at mid-wicket for five, Stirlands were 35-2.

Findon sent down a plethora of no-balls and Will Gubbins and Jamaine Bullen batted patiently and accumulated well. The pair had taken the score to 100 before Gubbins hit a short ball from Simon Legge to square leg, which started a dreadful collapse.

Stirlands lost six wickets for 29 runs, with Legge picking up the first five wickets of the collapse with accurate slow bowling.

After Gubbins found square leg to depart for 35, Legge had Jake Moores caught behind, Leo Wilkinson-Beal lbw, Dan Mugford caught and bowled from a leading edge, David Briance stumped and Dom Fecher caught mid-on.

After Bullen was bowled by Dunkley for a well made 54, it was looking precarious for Stirlands at 129-9. The last pair of Adam Downing and Adam Norris used all their experience to accumulate as many runs as possible, adding a crucial 24 at Stirlands were 153 all out.

The defence started well for Stirlands as Matthew Glover was lbw to David Briance for a duck. Liam Freeman and Harry Metters added 55 for the second wicket and Stirlands were staring down the barrel.

Fecher provided a crucial breakthrough as Freeman edged to Norris, whose parry to first slip was caught by David Briance. Then Fecher enticed Bridson to drive into Mugford’s hands at cover.

Metters was the key wicket and was next to go. Wilkinson-Beal picked up his first wicket, with Mugford taking a good catch above his head.

Stirlands were picking up regular wickets as the run rate slowed. Mugford and Wilkinson-Beal were combining well, Mugford’s relentless seam bowling from one end, and Wilkinson Beal’s probing off-spin from the other.

Mugford bowled Cox and Wilkinson-Beal had Metters caught by Bullen. This brought in Alex Nielsen who threw the bat but found Bullen sprinting around deep mid-wicket for an excellent diving catch.

Wilkinson-Beal and Mugford picked up a further wicket apiece before Bullen returned to end proceedings, having Grayston caught by George Briance.

What a great team effort this was.

Stirlands are at home again this week, hosting Worthing.

East Preston v West Wittering

Division 5 West

With rain overnight, West Wittering won the toss and elected to bowl. They lived to regret the decision as Paul McCafferty (38) got East Preston off to a flyer before being bowled by Joe Pink (2-65).

With two new batsmen at the crease Wittering began to pull the run rate back, helped by a torturous 15 from Tom Reeves. Kieran Baker (1-27) and Gareth Lendrum (1-26) took care of the middle order and the game was on.

Jack Sunderland (81) made Wittering pay for some erratic bowling with five huge sixes. He eventually fell to a slower ball from Harry Staight (3-65), but with support from Tom Chamberlain (22), East Preston amounted a fearsome total of 255-8.

The reply was poor from West Wittering. The need to go at a run rate of five an over, combined with a curious amalgam of uncouth chatter in the field, led to the familiar Wittering wobble.

The excellent, Joe Carter (4-26) and Jack Sunderland (3-16) were architects in chief. Brandon Trimmer (30) stood defiant, but the visitors sloped back home, skittled for 79. It was a well-deserved win for East Preston, now third in the table, hot on Wittering’s heels.