After two successive washouts, Chichester made the long journey to face Bexhill seconds in division three of the Sussex League – and joy at a victory was tempered by the fact it secured only 22 points and saw them knocked off top spot.
Chichester captain Matt Geffen won the toss and elected to bat. The innings got off to the worst possible start when Will Futcher was dismissed in the second over. Things didn’t improve as Byron Smith moved the ball around off the pitch.
Most of Chichester’s batsmen got into double figures but failed to progress. Smith took four wickets to leave the visitors on 56 for 5 before an unfortunate accident befell Bexhill’s Rafiqul Khan.
Bending down to field a ball, Khan’s studs caught in the turf and he fell to the ground with a suspected dislocated kneecap.
After a delay of nearly 90 minutes Chichester’s innings picked up largely where it left off. Smith completed a haul of six for 61 and the visitors were staring at a very low total.
James Stemp hit 35 off just 32 balls to take the total past 100. His was the final wicket to fall as Chichester were bowled out for 131, below what they would have wanted after winning the toss.
Bexhill had to chase with just ten batsmen and had to contend with a fired-up Abz Patel bowling possibly the quickest he has all season. Three wickets fell in six balls to leave the hosts on 10- 3 before heavy rain and a thunderstorm forced the players off the field for another half an hour and more overs were lost for Chichester to bowl the hosts out.
Fortunately they have Matt Geffen in the side and while he hasn’t captured the same number of wickets as last, he is arguably the most dangerous bowler in the division.
After Patel removed the middle order, the captain ripped through the lower order on the way to another five-wicket haul. Only Tim Cridland (38) offered resistance as Bexhill racked up five ducks. The hosts were skittled out for 71 to give Chichester victory by 60 runs.
Chichester picked up 22 points and a resounding victory for Haywards Heath in their game sees Chichester slip to second. A washout for Crawley Eagles and a loss for Pagham gives Priory a little buffer in the top two.
This week Chichester travel to Preston Nomads 2nd XI.
Three Bridges 2nd v Stirlands
Stirlands made the trip to Three Bridges and came home with another 30-point haul and a seven-wicket victory to continue chasing down a Slinfold side clinging on to a promotion spot.
Stirlands skipper George Coles invited Three Bridges to bat. A burst of rain prevent play starting on time, but it was soon under way.
The opening partnership took Bridges to 65-0.
Dan Mugford then completed a good spell of bowling and Jack Biden was lbw for 20. Leory Dekker was caught in the gully by Raj Maru off Jamaine Bullen for 0.
Ian Church looked well-set until David Briance had him lbw for 34. Briance produced the ball of the season bowl Ross Legg for one, reducing the home side to 79-4.
Sohail Shah was caught for 12 by Adam Downing off Briance 96-5. Arran Brown became the fourth Briance victim, bowled for four, making it 102-6.
A strong seventh-wicket partnership between Liam Barrett and Oliver Brown gave the home side hope of a competitive total.
Maru switched ends and Brown departed lbw for a patient 11, leaving Three Bridges 160-7. George Briance had Barrett caught magnificently on the long-off boundary by Mugford for 60, then had Iain Roe caught at slip by Mike Clowes.
The last wicket pair frustrated the visitors and then the heavens opened. On the resumption, Tahir Liaqat found the safe hands of Mugford and Bridges were 179 all out, the Briances taking seven for 65 between them.
George Briance and Will Gubbins opened the batting but Oliver Brown had Briance caught behind for one.
Gubbins and skipper Coles built a fine partnership and even when Liaqat induced edges, Gubbins was put down.
Coles played at a wide delivery from Roe and was caught by Biden for a well-compiled 41. Gubbins was trapped lbw by Roe for 32, and Torquil Deacon and Bullen were the new batsmen.
They put the opposition to the sword and Jack Williams was launched down the ground then dismissively pulled through mid-wicket by Deacon for back to back boundaries.
The final blow was struck by Bullen, as Stirlands romped home with seven wickets in hand for a maximum points haul. Deacon and Bullen finished 34 and 43 not out respectively.
With four games left, Stirlands lie third, trailing Slinfold by 19 points. On Saturday, Stirlands return home to Birdham to welcome a struggling Mayfield second XI.
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