Fantastic achievement as Roffey become Sussex Champions

Cricket – Sussex Premier League – Saturday 30th August 2014

Preston Nomads 211-6 declared Roffey 212-5

Roffey won by 5 wickets

Roffey grabbed the Premier League title in style – unseating reigning champions Preston Nomads with a game in hand. Nomads have won the league six times in the last eight years but Roffey, with a good record against them and knowing that a win would bring them glory, were not fazed by their visit to the Fulking fiefdom.

Roffey became a top ten side in Sussex by breaking into the Premier League in 2011, a major achievement for a small unfashionable club. Others – such as Pulborough, Steyning and Stirlands have gained promotion, but found it impossible to stay up, while some previously big names in Sussex cricket, are no longer in the league – making Roffey’s achievement all the more commendable.

Peter Cheesman, Roffey President when they gained senior status, told the District Post: “I’m very proud of the team. We had a 15 year plan to work up through the lower leagues, getting a good foundation. We’ve always had good colts and experienced players – and a lot of enthusiasm, so we consolidated in our first premiership year and kicked on from there. Despite setbacks we’ve done it – without ever having a Sussex pro. We enjoy friendly rivalry with Horsham (the only team to beat Roffey – twice) but they’ve given us advice when needed and our aim is to keep improving: we’d love to emulate them by winning the ECB National KO Cup.”

Roffey began the campaign in blistering form, winning six of their first seven games encouraging this correspondent to say they could win the league, but others suggested that there might not be sufficient fire power to bowl sides out once wickets hardened. Roffey skipper Josh Fleming had more faith in the variety of attack and the strength of batting, insisting that would carry them through – how right he was!

In the big game Roffey inserted Nomads and although a good start was made, county batsman Joe Gatting scoring a rapid 60, Kuldeep Rawat with 3-57.

 2-12 from Alex Collins and other containing contributions ensured that the hosts were kept within bounds. Then, in his tenth Nomads season evergreen Carl Simon, leading league wicket taker this term, took 4-74 from 26 overs. But, following his century against Horsham and 99 not out against East Grinstead, Mike Norris again stole the show with a match winning 102, ably supported by 47 not out from Kuldeep, Roffey winning with an over to spare. Josh Fleming said: “It’s fantastic to win the league – it hasn’t really sunk in yet! It was hard work today – they batted well on a tricky wicket and the outfield was slow, so they posted a real challenge and Carl seemed to bowl for ever. Noz (Norris), though, batted so well – the best innings at club level that I’ve ever seen.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) champions Roffey return home for their final game of the season, against Cuckfield (11.30 start).

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