Bexhill Cricket Club has secured its Sussex Premier League status with a game to spare.
A draw at home to East Grinstead yesterday (Saturday) means that Bexhill are guaranteed to finish outside the two relegation places, with Hastings Priory and Three Bridges facing the drop to Division Two.
It was third time lucky for Bexhill after they were relegated in 2010 and 2012 having been promoted in 2009 and 2011, and their years of yo-yoing between the two divisions has come to an end.
Bexhill chose to field on winning the toss and third-placed Grinstead scored 219-9 from their 58 overs. The hosts got off to a pretty good start with Dean Crawford having both Grinstead openers caught behind by Jack Richardson to leave the visitors 27-2.
Ollie Graham then came to the wicket, though, and proceeded to score more than half of Grinstead’s runs. Joe Cox bowled Tom Haynes for 23 to make it 68-3 before Graham put on 60 for the fourth wicket with Will Adkin, who was caught by Crawford off Callum Guest for 26.
Guest struck again by bowling Toby Margetts to leave Grinstead 139-5 before a quartet of mini-partnerships of between 19 and 21 took Grinstead past the 200 mark and up to their final total.
Graham was eventually last man out for a brilliant 112 off 145 balls with 14 fours and a six, and with the next highest score being Adkin’s 26, it was an innings which Grinstead badly needed.
Crawford ended with 4-57 from 12 overs, Guest took 3-59 off 19 and Cox 1-28 off five. Ashar Zaidi, such a key perfomer in recent weeks, only bowled two overs.
Bexhill suffered an early setback in reply when the in-form Shawn Johnson fell to Sam Jewiss with the score just four, but Tim Hambridge and Malcolm Johnson forged a decent second wicket partnership of 61.
Hambridge was eventually bowled by Graham for 21 and Malcolm Johnson fell to Craig Fowle eight runs later for 45 off 52 balls with nine fours. Zaidi and Cameron Burgon put on 56 for the fifth wicket until Zaidi fell to Ian Sturmer for 27.
Crawford chipped in with 17 and although Bexhill lost three wickets for 17 runs to go from 151-4 to 168-7, Burgon secured the draw with a very good 54 not out from 105 balls with seven fours. Bexhill finished on 179-7 from their 52 overs.
Standings (all played 18 matches): 1 Roffey 375pts, 2 Preston Nomads 338, 3 East Grinstead 327, 4 Horsham 316, 5 Eastbourne 316, 6 Brighton & Hove 292, 7 Cuckfield 263, 8 BEXHILL 245, 9 Three Bridges 200, 10 HASTINGS PRIORY 188.