Favourites Roffey stumble to disappointing cup final defeat

Sussex Sunday T20 Cup Final – Sunday September 8 Eastbourne 159-6 (20 0vers) Roffey 147-6 (20 overs) Eastbourne won by 12 runs

Cricket Martin Read – Sports Reporter

A strange thing happened last Sunday – Roffey lost a game – for only the second time in 27 league and cup matches this season, having won the Sussex Premiership as the only unbeaten side. As is customary, last Sunday’s Sussex Cup Final – Roffey’s third consecutive appearance – was staged at Sussex’s Hove Headquarters, The 1st Central County Ground, but played under lights and in coloured clothing for the first time. After Eastbourne won the toss and elected to bat first, it became a game of four quarters, with Roffey winning the first and third, but, crucially, Eastbourne bouncing back to post an unexpectedly challenging score in the second quarter before tightening the screw to deny Roffey a likely looking win in the all important final run in. Roffey always want to win, and they dearly wanted to succeed last Sunday, giving them a league and cup double, and, especially, entry into the National T20 competition, which they are keen to carry off. George Fleming delayed his honeymoon following his wedding the previous day and Aussie all rounder Ben Manenti rescheduled his return home to also enable him to play, but to no avail. Eastbourne started carefully, and when their star batsman, former Kent pro James Hockley, was run out by a Mike Norris direct hit in the seventh over, they were 32-1, Hockley having also been run out cheaply when Roffey won the league at the Saffrons last season. Roffey maintained control, and at the half way stage – ten overs – Eastbourne had a modest 56 runs, but opener Malcolm Johnson was batting securely, going on to hit 4 fours in Jamie Atkins’ first over, followed by a six down the ground at the other end. Paul Harrison then completed two smart stumpings off Luke Barnard, but not before his Eastbourne counterpart Oli Carter had chipped in with streaky fours, and by the time Carter and Johnson were out – Johnson picking out Manenti for 64 – the score had risen to 136-4 in the 17th over. Barnard (3-31) then trapped David Twine LBW and Atkins plucked out Alastair Orr’s middle stump, and although only three runs came off the last over, Roffey found themselves chasing 160, a far higher target than had appeared likely. Clearly, Roffey needed to get off to a good start with Manenti recovering his brutally destructive one day form from previous months and Rohit Jagota overcoming last season’s disappointments in Roffey’s big late cup encounters. And, Roffey supporters – of which there were many – had plenty to enthuse them, Jagota hitting early fours and a big six down the ground, and even when Manenti was out after also hitting a maximum, there was no real concern, particularly when more hefty blows from Jagota took the score to 60-1 by the end of the sixth over. The Lenham brothers – Scott and Archie – were bowling in tandem, but, after Jibran Khan had joined Jagota, the score reached 86-1 at the mid point of Roffey’s overs. Jagota brought up his 50 with a swept boundary and although he was out in the next over Roffey had good batting to come and with the asking rate still at the original eight an over and wickets in hand, the chase did not appear too daunting. And, it dropped to 7 an over off the last three, with a short boundary on the pavilion side and big gaps on the other. But, opening bowler Joe Pocklington – the subsequent Player of the Match – was brought back to grab three quick wickets, including two in the penultimate over, completely changing the equation. Suddenly 17 runs were required off the final six balls, and although Khan was still in, finishing on 43 not out, the task proved too much: the difference being that Eastbourne scored 103 in the second half of their innings, but Roffey only managed 61. Roffey skipper Matt Davies told the District Post: “We didn’t bowl well in the middle of Eastbourne’s innings, whereas they did at the end of ours, when we ran out of oomph, losing wickets at the wrong times.”

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