Eastbourne 159-8 (40 overs) – Roffey 124 All Out (37.2 overs)
Eastbourne won by 35 runs
Knowing that the well-used wicket was unlikely to get easier as the game progressed, Eastbourne elected to bat after winning the toss, and although Roffey contained them brilliantly for three quarters of their innings, a target of 160 proved far too many.
Bathed in warm late summer sunshine, the huge partisan crown at the Saffrons was entertained by a struggle for runs in bowler friendly conditions, but home spirits were not high at the half way stage of the Eastbourne innings, when only 44 runs were on the board for the loss of three wickets. Rohit Jagota began with a maiden before Malcolm Johnson was caught off a skier by Sam Henderson. At 14-2 from 10 overs, alarm bells were ringing for Eastbourne but, as they had frequently done in their five consecutive wins in the qualifiers, the Lenham brothers – 18 year old Scott and Archie (16), burgeoning Sussex prospects, staged a recovery.
Watched by grandfather Les and father Neil, who between them had played 662 matches for Sussex, amassing over 26,000 runs, Scott made a painstaking 52 and Archie 16 – until he was run out by a direct hit from Henderson. Without ever cutting free, and with boundaries at a premium, Eastbourne gradually built a defendable total, finishing on 159—8 from their 40 over allocation, despite 3-27 from Jamie Atkins and 2-22 from Harnoop Kalsi. With one blemish Roffey had fielded tigerishly, but, with the occasional ball lifting on the exceptionally slow dry, dusty wicket, Roffey’s normally confident travelling supporters were none too optimistic, fearing that perhaps 20 too many late runs had been conceded
Much depended on Roffey’s big batting guns, and while opener Jagota made 33 and Mike Norris 36, Eastbourne kept whittling away. Roffey had reached 62-4 at the half way point, but even the exhilarating sight of a Spitfire soaring above the ground failed to bring about the necessary rally. Two late run outs engineered by Scott Lenham in the quest for quick runs – the asking rate having risen to 10 an over – saw Roffey subside from a parlous 91-5 to 124 all out. Ben Twine with 4-15 wrapped up the tail, backed by 2- 16 from Archie Lenham, earlier capturing the wickets of two visiting danger men, Jagota and skipper Matt Davies.
Two years previously, Roffey had walloped Eastbourne at the Saffrons to win the Sussex Premiership for the fourth time in five years, but this time, without Ben Manenti and Jibran Khan the mid order looked seriously depleted. With hopes of an appearance in the Final at Horsham dashed, Matt Davies told us: “We gave them too many runs at the end of their innings and then lost a couple of early wickets when we needed to get off to a better start. We’ll be looking to strengthen our batting for next season.”