Hailsham Cricket Club – Week Eighteen Report

1st XI
Hailsham 1st XI finished their 2018 league campaign at home to Ringmer in a crunch match that had everything riding on it. A victory would see Hailsham promoted and crowned champions, whereas anything less would result in another season in Division 5 of the Sussex Cricket League and Ringmer earning a promotion spot. Following the toss, Hailsham would bowl first.
Andrew Anthony (1-28) got Hailsham off to the perfect start removing Ringmer’s opening bat in his second over. With tight bowling resulting in runs being hard to come by for Ringmer, Hailsham remained on top. Fantastic spells from Varun Khullar (1-46), Tom McDonald (1-20) and Matthew Anthony (1-14) put Hailsham firmly in the driving seat against a struggling Ringmer batting line up.
The introduction of Shibin Abraham (1-18) and Shankar Bala (0-36) didn’t hurt Hailsham’s title hopes either, with both continuing the excellent form that has been constant in the 2018 season.  Brilliant innings from Michael Turner (52) and William Crees (61*) helped rally the Ringmer innings.
From a position that looked like Ringmer may only limp to the 140 mark, a sloppy final five overs from Hailsham that included costly dropped catches, gifted Ringmer the opportunity to get back into the match. After 45 overs, Ringmer ended on 175-5, leaving Hailsham with a lot more to do in the second innings than had initially looked likely.
With the game now in the batsman’s hands, the run chase did not get off to the perfect start. Captain Aaron Norwood (8), Shankar Bala (5), and Varun Khullar (0) came and went without putting the scorer through too much trouble.  Hailsham were in a precarious position at 15-3. Matt Dawber (38) continued his form from last week, alongside opener Scott Pearce (39).
Dawber took the attack to the bowlers, forcing them off their lines and with some power hitting before falling, soon followed by Rob Wilkinson (0). David Anthony came to the crease, and was soon joined by Tom McDonald (14) after Pearce fell for a useful 38. David Anthony played some classy shots looking to keep Hailsham in the game, knowing he was Hailsham’s last recognised batsman.
Tom McDonald and David Anthony then lost their wickets. The hopes of a town suddenly weren’t so hopeful. With over 50 runs required to win, and only two wickets remaining, the game looked all over. Hope of promotion had turned into dismay in the Hailsham ranks, and it looked as if another year in Division 5 was destined for Hailsham next season. The music began to be heard from the Ringmer party, while the Hailsham champagne was taken off ice.
Shibin Abraham (20*) was joined in the middle by Andrew Anthony (28*). Both players had proven to have the ability to clear the ropes in the past, however their ability to stick it out with around 20 overs remaining to make more than 50 runs was not so proven. Both batsman dug in, running quick singles and picking up on any opportunity to score. When Anthony took William Crees for 12 off his fourth over, the tide turned and hope was suddenly restored. The opening bowlers came back into the attack as the game got tighter with the view of finish off the tail.
The Anthony-Abraham partnership was not done yet. As 170-8 came onto the scoreboard, all that was required was one strike of the ball to win the league. Abraham dutiful smashed the ball back over the bowlers head into the sight screen, with gun barrel straight precision, and that was that.
Hailsham had once again not made it easy for themselves – for this 1st XI do not do things the easy way. But lower order character had seen them through, with Anthony and Abraham putting on over 50 for the ninth wicket, including a league best 28 not out for Andrew Anthony and 20 not out for Shibin Abraham.
Hailsham were crowned Division 5 champions, taking them to their highest league position in the clubs history. The IQ Builders Merchant Man of the Match is shared between Scott Pearce, Matt Dawber, Andrew Anthony and Shibin Abraham for their contributions to the successful run chase.
2nd XI
It was a mighty fine Saturday in the month of September. The 2nd XI we’re travelling to Newhaven, they were also looking to take a journey into Division 7. With the odds never in their favour, there was always a small glimmer of hope with some of the class that the team held.
Will Parsons strode out to the crease winning the toss as ever and electing to bat second. The South African genius Clint Mooiman (3-20) bowled in the danger zone always giving their batsmen a hard time with his powerful away swing. His tantalising lines and lengths did not give him the breakthrough in his first spell but they were always restricted for runs. From the other end James Renals (2-33) bowled with intent, and this intent was shown when dismissing their opening bat for just 1 run with a juicy in-swinger. His first spell was a thing of beauty conceding under 15 runs.
They were then replaced new new recruit Omar Pathan (0-29) and the ever-present Andrew Swansbrough (1-34). Pathan was unlucky not to take his first wicket for the 2nd XI as a catch was put down by fielder of the year candidate Ollie McDonald. These two bowlers always looked like they would make the breakthrough and finally Swansbrough did with what I can call a ball that could have only been designed by the finest machinery.
The mastermind idea, suggested by Mark Renals, to bring on the spin marvel that is Ollie McDonald (0-11) and the specialist fielder Tim Mullins (1-19) made the breakthrough. McDonald held them down whilst Mullins finished them off, it was the partnership of dreams. After this economical display of bowling Newhaven stumbled to 157-7 off of their 45 overs.
Hailsham’s usual permanently inform opener Mark Renals (32) was joined by the man that is Sir Steve Bowden. Although Bowden only managed to score 2, his support and belief was always felt by the whole. After Bowden’s dismissal, Mullins joined the crease after recently finding his form. Mullins looked good but once Renals was bowled Hailsham had to be more cautious as they knew and more than 5 wickets lost would mean they’d miss the chance for promotion. As McDonald flew to the crease he started well, playing his shots and not being afraid to try and hit his boundaries. Just as a match winning partnership was forming, Mullins fell for 12. After this here was no gumption shown by any of Hailsham’s batsman with Mooiman falling for just 3 and Swansbrough for a quick 12. Once promotion was unachievable the batsman unfortunately gave up. McDonald falling for 26, with no contributions from the lower order above 2. They were all out for 96.
Although Hailsham were unable to achieve their dreams of Division 7, there were many positives to take from the season, many youth players showing just a snippet of their full ability.
The Finance Planning Group Man of the Match goes to Mark Renals for a top score of 32.
3rd XI
On the last game of the season Hailsham lost away at Westfield but cricket was definitely the winner. Hailsham won the toss and elected to field.
Westfield started well despite the best efforts of the away bowlers. Kai Lalor, Alex Renals. Jon Brettany, Lewis Williams, Brad Aldridge and Manoj Yogendran all tried their best and restricted Westfield to 232-4. A big total that could have been much bigger on a small pitch with a quick outfield. A superb ton by the home opener was the pick of the batting.
233 to win and ensure that Hailsham would be champions – promotion was already guaranteed.
The chase started badly when Robin Sewell, Jason Head and Manoj were all out cheaply; 3 down with less than 30 scored; over 200 needed! Jon Brettany was a lone fighter as wickets continued to  go. When he was out for a well earned 50 the cause looked hopeless. Well over 100 needed and 7 down. Around 8 an over required. Enter Ryan Levey with a simple instruction from skipper Harry Gent – go and have fun. Boy did he!! 6s and 4s rained around the ground and what was an amusing late order bash suddenly became real concern for the home team. The banter dried up as Ryan smashed the ball to all parts. 12, 16 then 18 off an over! 25 off another over. 27 needed off 4 and with young Ed Brock Ryan had put on 93 for the 8th wicket! 2 wickets for Westfield and it came down to 6 needed off the final over with 9 down. Ryan was bowled for a quite brilliant 70 odd off not many balls to leave Hailsham 5 runs short.
A wonderful game, lovely weather, a quintessentially English ground, marvellous tea and a great spirit between the teams. Cricket doesn’t get any better than this at any level. Congratulations to Westfield, and Hailsham for finishing 2nd in the table.
The SPS man of the match was undoubtedly Ryan Levey for an astonishing innings. Hollywood couldn’t have written it! A fabulous game to end a fun season.

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