Cricket – Saturday May 25
THE 1st CENTRAL SUSSEX LEAGUE – ECB Premier Division
East Grinstead 213 all out (49.4 overs) – Roffey 218-2 (29.5)
Roffey won by 8 wickets – Roffey 30 points – East Grinstead 9
Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Last year Roffey’s sole East Grinstead game finished in a dull draw, Grinstead opting not to chase a target in defence of their 2017 league title. Saturday’s game, though, was not dull – after East Grinstead elected to bat they seemed likely to set a very substantial target with the prospect of Roffey having to negotiate a combination of 20 overs from Lewis Hatchett and Ian Sturmer, probably the league’s most testing new ball partnership. However, an extraordinary over stood the game on its head, denying Grinstead an adequate total, and enabling Roffey to romp home courtesy of an outstanding century. After surviving a confident appeal and being given a life in the slips, former Billingshurst opener Tom Haynes was mightily aggrieved at his LBW decision, but Grinstead recovered to 111 without further loss by the half way stage of their innings with carefree Will Adkin and Leo Cammish well set. But, when Adkin was needlessly run out next over the floodgates opened with a stunning hat trick from George Fleming, bowling an immaculate line and length from the top end. Four wickets fell in four balls, three ducks in a row condemning Grinstead from a position of strength to a parlous 111-5 with Cammish watching helplessly from the bowler’s end. A 48 run stand for the sixth wicket staged a partial recovery, but although Sturmer and George Cave posted lusty thirties, a 214 run requirement was unlikely to prevent a Roffey victory unless Grinstead could inflict serious early blows. Fleming took 3-42 and Rohit Jagota a typically miserly 2-25 from his 10 over allocation, with the remaining wickets shared between Ben Manenti, Leigh Harrison and Alex Collins.
Strong opening partnerships featured in Roffey’s three previous games, but this time Lewis Hatchett struck with the third ball of the innings. Yet it mattered not, Manenti delighting another good Roffey crowd with 25 fours and two towering sixes in a blistering 135, the 17th over going for 25 with successive free hits despatched amid wide balls. And, after scoring 11 off three deliveries to post his hundred, Manenti hit 5 fours in an over, all round the ground, and, accompanied by Jibran Khan, back in the team after playing in Pakistan, they were particularly severe on Cave and Will Taylor, whose aggregate of six overs went for 71 runs. Khan unfurled an array of delicate cuts while Lewis Hatchett and Sturmer bowled just 11 overs between them. Manenti was caught off a skier trying to end the game in the grand manner, only for Jagota to launch a greenhouse-threatening six off his solitary ball to end the match, Roffey winning with just over 20 overs unused, Khan finishing on 65 not out.
Roffey skipper Matt Davies told the District Post: “They were going so well with one wicket down, but George’s golden over was the real game changer. After a couple of tough games we really needed a good win like that.” Fleming added: “It started to wobble about a bit at the right time, then new batsmen came in with slow feet!”, while Manenti said: “Wearing contact lenses seems to be making a difference to my batting – they were 70 or 80 short and I felt that we were just one good partnership away from a win,” Khan adding: “Although conditions here are not the same as Asia, its good to play all the year round – it keeps you in good nick!” Elsewhere, Middleton and Preston Nomads both lost for the first time, placing Roffey, the only unbeaten team in the league, 15 points clear at the top of the table. On Saturday Roffey visit old rivals Horsham for what is certain to be a strongly contested 50 over a side game (11.30 am start), with Horsham looking for another win to move them up the table and Roffey wanting to take the points to increase their lead at the top. Just six points separate the bottom five sides after both Eastbourne and Mayfield notched up their first wins of the season.
Meanwhile, Roffey’s Sussex T20 Sussex Cup tie against Ifield scheduled for last weekend has been moved forward to June 23rd