Bexhill’s cricketers made it back-to-back wins in the Sussex Premier League despite being on the receiving end of one hat-trick and nearly another.
Four wickets from Dean Crawford and Josh Beeslee, followed by a Tim Hambridge half-century, helped Bexhill to a four-wicket victory in a remarkable game away to Middleton on Saturday.
Middleton, who are bottom of the early league table, were all out for 207 in 56.5 overs after winning the toss and choosing to bat - a total which Bexhill considered 20/30 runs short of par.
The Middleton innings - in which seven batsmen made it to double figures, yet only three went beyond 20 and none reached 50 - went as well as Bexhill would have liked but for an annoying 43 runs for last two wickets.
Wickets initially fell at steady intervals until 132-4 quickly became 164-8 following the departure of wicketkeeper Will Burrows (45). Number eight Anthony Ender hit 45 off 48 balls, however, to take Middleton past the 200 mark.
Beeslee and Crawford bowled well to claim 4-58 from 14 overs and 4-64 from 12.5 overs respectively, Crawford taking his tally to 10 wickets in two games. Callum Guest also kept things tight with figures of 1-25 off 11.
Bexhill were cruising along in reply until Shawn Johnson got slightly bogged down and tried to hit, and was caught and bowled for 35 by Max Ellis with the score 66.
Malcolm Johnson looked back to his best and stroked the ball for 32 off 36 balls, following up his half-century against Billingshurst the previous weekend.
Middleton captain Sean Heather made an inspired bowling change and Jamie Thompson took a hat-trick, starting with the wicket of Malcolm Johnson, to leave Bexhill 112-4.
Bexhill recovered through a fifth wicket partnership of 69 between Hambridge and Guest only for Thompson to take two wickets in two balls and only miss out on another hat-trick by a coat of varnish.
Hambridge was Thompson’s fourth victim having played one of his best innings in a Bexhill shirt, the left-handed opener eventually departing for a game-high 74 off 125 balls.
Thompson finished with 5-20 from 9.3 overs and his performance was even more amazing given that he can only bowl a maximum spells of four overs.
Sensible rum-a-ball batting from Guest (44 not out off 42 balls) along with an unbeaten 18 from 10 deliveries by Crawford saw Bexhill across the line - much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Standings (played four matches unless stated): 1 Brighton & Hove (5) 103pts, 2 Preston Nomads 98, 3 Roffey 93, 4 Cuckfield (5) 89, 5 Eastbourne (5) 88, 6 East Grinstead 79, 7 BEXHILL 78, 8 Billingshurst 60, 9 Horsham 51, 10 Middleton 41.
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