Saturday saw the final round of fixtures in the East Sussex Cricket League, with many of the relegation and promotion places still to be decided.
With the destination of the East Sussex league championship decided a week early, all the attention in Division 1 turned to the battle to avoid the drop.
Going into the final weekend of the league season, Ringmer and Buxted Park occupied the two positions in the drop zone. And it was they who occupied them still come the end of play.
The division’s bottom team, Ringmer, needed to beat fourth-placed Plumpton and hope results elsewhere went dramatically in their favour.
But in the end they were to lose by four wickets – despite Mat Savage’s 63 and Michael Turner’s 53 in the visitors’ total of 185-6 declared.
Hosts Plumpton in reply reached 186-6 in 44 overs, thanks mainly to Ross Blackford’s knock of 70 in 72 balls.
Buxted Park, at home to mid-table Seaford, were just one and seven points respectively behind St Peters and Iden, the two sides sitting just above them, but on the safe side of the relegation divide.
So a high points-scoring draw or even defeat may have been enough to see Park safe.
However, as it turned out, the eight points they picked up in a three-wicket defeat was eight points too few.
Put in, they scored 121 in 43.1 overs, Jacob Smith taking 5-12 in 7.1 overs for Seaford. Seaford reached their target in just 26.3 overs, although they did lose seven wickets on the way and were indebted to John Smith and Mark Sapwell for knocks of 41 and 50 from the middle order.
No other Seaford batsman reached double figures as Craig Olive’s superb figures of 6-73 turned out to be in vain as far as Buxted were concerned.
Despite their win, Seaford finished the day where they started it – in fifth place.
With Iden and St Peters playing each other on the last day, nervous glances to scores elsewhere would have been understandable. As it was both survived when picking up enough points in Saints’ two-wicket win over Iden.
The highlights of that game were Ben Flux’s 7-59 for Saints and George Avann’s 4-12 in seven overs for Iden.
With Rye crowned champions the weekend before, following their victory then at nearby Iden, it would perhaps be no surprise if they finished the season with a whimper.
But their match at home to mid-table Heathfield Park was anything but. Winning the toss and electing to bat, the 2013 champions hit 211-8 in 46 overs, thanks mainly to Sandun Dias’s 59 and Dan Seabrook’s 80. Callum Matthews and Simon Briggs took three wickets apiece.
In reply, Heathfield Park reached their target in 46.4 overs with just one wicket remaining.
Lower middle order batsmen Dan James (48) and Matthews (62 not out) were the heroes for Park, even if their win over the new champs didn’t see them rise above the sixth place they had occupied at the start of the day.
Rye used no fewer than nine different bowlers, with Sandun’s 3-8 in seven overs and James Hamilton’s 3-15 in five the pick of those nine.
Ditchling’s win over Newick – the only team to give Rye a run for their money in the league and already assured of second – ensured Plumpton couldn’t leapfrog them to third place on the final day.
Jonathan Atkinson’s 65 helped Ditchling to 163-8 declared in 43.4 overs, with Joe Waylett taking 4-38 for Newick, before the runners-up replied with 158 all out in 40.3 overs. Waylett scored 49 but the star with the ball was Tom Carr with 8-58 in 20.3 overs.
See this Friday’s Sussex Express for round-ups on the final round of fixtures in East Sussex League Divisions 2-13.