Sussex Premier League
Billingshurst 202 All Out (50.3 overs) Roffey 204-8 (52.5 overs)
Roffey won by 2 wickets
Either side could have won this highly entertaining, fluctuating game but Roffey held their nerve to get over the line despite a concerted Billingshurst effort to deny them after they had posted their highest total in the Premier League.
Billingshurst elected to bat, Leigh Harrison (2-22) dismissing both openers in a frugal opening spell. “From 97-2 and then 167-4 with Dhanushka Mitipolaarachchi (39) and Sussex’s Chris Liddle, whose 42 included 4 sixes, one invading a nearby house, going well a challenging target beckoned. But that was before George Fleming got into his stride, taking 6-73, following his five wicket haul at Cuckfield earlier in the season. Batsmen contrived ways of getting out, nine falling to catches, the last three wickets evaporating for two runs. Dan Smith mopped up with 2-5 while, crucially as it transpired, Billingshurst failed to bat out their allocation, gifting Roffey seven extra overs.
Roffey also set a promising platform and at 110-2 with Theo Rivers (53) and Rohit Jagota (39) batting fluently towards a seemingly inadequate target with 35 overs in hand a straightforward win appeared inevitable. But, although the outfield was hard, fast and difficult to protect, as witnessed by 25 fours in the Roffey innings, Billingshurst held stunning catches, both close and in the deep and kept pressing. Amid a flurry of injudicious strokes squandering their earlier good work Roffey suddenly found themselves in dire straits at 147-7 with Ben Williams (4-49) and Dhanushka, 2-51, in command. But, with every run being applauded by the ever- enthusiastic Roffey crowd, an undefeated 26 from Dan Smith, batting first with George Fleming (20) and then Alex Collins saw Roffey home, holding firm against a hostile onslaught from Chris Liddle.
Relieved Roffey captain Josh Fleming said; “We made a meal of that! The way we batted and with Billingshurst out-fielding us I’m not sure that we deserved to win, much though the points are welcome.” The depth of Roffey’s batting line up got them through, Dan Smith saying: “I’ve always enjoyed batting and am used to facing some county pros in this league, so the short pitched stuff didn’t bother me too much.” Although coming off second best – just – Billingshurst gave a highly creditable account of themselves, Scott Stratton saying: “We just needed to have produced a little bit extra and we would have won,” Dhanushka adding: “We were well placed when we batted so that was disappointing, but we expect to be stronger next week.”
On Saturday Roffey, now third by one point, but with a game in hand, visit Middleton, who held on for a draw against leaders Preston Nomads, while Billingshurst entertain Cuckfield. On Sunday Roffey host East Grinstead in the Quarter Final of the T20 Cup.