Sussex Premier League
Billingshurst 264-9 (58 overs) Roffey 269-4 (43.1 overs)
Roffey won by 6 wickets
Billingshurst set off like a train and posted by far their highest total of the campaign only for Rohit Jagota to capitalise on one of groundsman Drew Smallwood’s belting pitches, enabling Roffey to leapfrog Horsham and Cuckfield into top spot.
Stuart Barber, free of the cares of captaincy, compiled an excellent 87, putting on 77 for the first wicket with Tom Haynes (27), then Thivanka Rataratne bludgeoned a typically forthright 54 and on 169-1, barely past the half way point of their allocation, a Billingshurst total in excess of 300 beckoned. But, Roffey then did what they so often do – applied the brakes, only wicket keeper Mike Burroughs making much further impact with an unbeaten 44 run cameo, Luke Barnard taking 3-72 and George Fleming and Jagota two wickets each.
Although the 265 run target in 52 overs was competitive, especially in the face of Billingshurst’s opening attack of Andy Barr and Abidine Sakande (who recently played for Sussex against Pakistan), Roffey’s strong batting line up ensured that a positive challenge would be mounted. However at 84-3, including 40 from Theo Rivers, much still needed to be done and two more quick wickets might well have altered the course of the game, but Usman Khan and Jagota had other ideas, setting about the bowling with gusto. Usman’s 57 included 5 sixes and on his departure Josh Fleming provided the perfect foil to Jagota’s trademark belligerence. Needing a maximum to complete his 74 ball hundred, Rohit duly obliged finishing off the match in style with six wickets and 8.5 overs to spare.
533 runs were scored in the afternoon with 54 fours and, involving much ball hunting, 22 sixes – Billingshurst skipper Ben Williams saying: “After our good start we should have got more runs but we felt we’d got a par score.” Rohit Jagota told us: “The pitch was absolutely superb and both sides batted very well. Usman set up the win with me and then Josh (Fleming) provided great support!”
Roffey move one point ahead of Horsham with a game in hand.
On Saturday (July 30) Roffey, keen to reverse heavy defeats on their last two encounters, visit fourth placed East Grinstead, while Billingshurst second from bottom host Brighton & Hove (whom they trail by 27 points) in a must win game.
Martin Read – Sports Reporter