A STUNNING 10-wicket haul from Murray Divall, of East Sussex League’s Division Nine side Forest Row 2nd XI, was easily the standout performance of a heavily rain-affected weekend in the opening weekend of the cricket league season.
Divall made his remarkable return in Forest Row’s game away to Rottingdean 2nd XI, one of only six games to take place througough the whole of the East Sussex and Sussex Cricket Leagues combined.
The only game to take place in the Sussex Cricket League (other than one game in the West section of Division Three, and a game played to T20 rules between Brighton & Hove and Bexhill, in the Premier League) was at Eastbourne’s Saffrons ground, where the hosts beat Horsham by 121 runs in the 1st XI Premier League.
In Division Two, Glynde’s season-opener at home to Findon was washed out, as was the 2nd XI’s game away to the West Sussex side’s second string.
In Division Three (East), Hellingly’s game away to Burgess Hill was abandoned, as was Lewes Priory’s game away at Crawley and Seaford’s game at home to Keymer & Hassocks.
Only four games took place in the East Sussex Cricket League.
In Division Four, Eastbourne 3rd XI beat Firle by six runs at Eastbourne’s Larkins Field (the club’s bottom field), the fact that two games were going on there despite the county-wide washout surely bolstering claims that Eastbourne is truly the Sunshine Coast (or at least the part of the coast that avoids the rain).
Batting first after being put in by their visitors, Eastbourne were only able to post a meagre 91 in 29.1 overs, top scorer being Matthew Isepp with 31.
Gus Christie shone with the ball, taking 5-18 in 12 miserly overs, while Nick Boon chipped in with 2-4 in 2.1 overs.
But if Firle thought they would stroll to a first win of the season they were sadly mistaken, as Eastbourne skittled them out for just 85 in 38.3 overs. Top score was again 31, from opener Neil Trott, while Adam Blackburn responded to Christie’s five-for with one of his own, taking 5-19 on 12.3 overs. Ilham Mohammadi took 3-13 in 10 overs.
In Division Eight, Wadhurst 2nd XI beat new boys to the ESCL, Stanmer (2nd XI) by seven wickets.
Having won the toss and electing to bowl first, Wadhust kept their hosts down to 102 in their 50 overs before reaching their target in 29 overs for the loss of just three wickets.
In Division Nine, Forest Row 2nd XI also won by seven wickets, away to Rottingdean 3rd XI. The visitors won the toss and bowled first, reducing their hosts to just 77 in 26 overs.
Only George Clayson (19), Nishant Kuriakose (14) and Barry Harper (13) made double figures for Rottingdean – but the real star of the show was Murray Divall, who took all TEN wickets, returning 10-34 in nine overs.
Divall revealed to the Sussex Express that a whopping wicket return was the last thing on his mind as he and his team-mates travelled almost directly to Rottingdean near the coast.
He said: “We were expecting to turn up and go straight home again after all the rain this week. An abandonment at the most.
“And I wasn’t even going to bowl myself as I haven’t had a net session over the winter, but I was talked into it by a team-mate.. thanks, Cameron!” he jested.
“I’m actually more pleased that we’ve kicked off our season in Division Nine – after promotion last season – with a maximum-point victory.”
In reply, Forest Row made light of their target, reaching 82-3 in 15.3 overs. Chris Hinton top scored with 43 not out. Graham Harris took 2-18.
The only other game to take place in the league on Saturday was in Division 11, where Seaford’s 4th XI took on Newhaven’s 3rd XI at The Salts.