Horsham CC and Roffey CC step up preparations for Sussex League start

Premier League newcomers Haywards Heath put Horsham in to bat in a pre-season warm up game at Cricketfield Road, and the hosts notched up a challenging 270-8 from their 45 over allocation.

But on the customary excellent Cricketfield Road wicket it wasn’t quite enough, the visitors winning by 6 wickets.

For Horsham, Coach Will Beer showed the way – his 103 at better than a run a ball containing 13 fours and 2 sixes (begging the question whether, in view of Sussex’s current woes, he ought to be called upon to add some Championship appearances to his limited overs contract). Paul Williams retired after reaching 59 and George Magnus made 34, with Jethro Menzies the most productive bowler with 3-33.

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After losing an early wicket, Heath made good progress, reaching 185-2, courtesy of a rapid 90 from Menzies. Skipper Jonny Phelps followed up with 94, well supported by Chris Blunt and Ben Matthew, Heath chalking up their win with 21 balls to spare.

Some of the key men at Horsham CC for 2022

Horsham captain Nick Oxley said: “We didn’t really know what to expect from Haywards Heath, but they looked good, while we were not at our strongest, however that gave us the opportunity to blood some junior players, giving them useful experience.

"Beero made it look a different game, then we were tested in the field when the wind got up, particularly challenging with a short boundary one side. We had a good work out, though, and are looking forward to our trip to Pagham on Saturday in the Sussex T20 Cup.”

* Roffey opened their season with back to back warm up matches, with mixed results, Captain Matt Davies telling the County Times: “It was good to have two tough games to get us going!”

Roffey's Rohit Jagota

On Saturday they entertained fellow Sussex Premiership contenders Three Bridges and soon regretted opting to bat after winning the toss, Bridges going on to win by 4 wickets. Six of the first seven Roffey batsmen came and went cheaply, but, although evergreen Rohit Jagota top-scored with 44, and the last four at the crease each reached double figures and 20 extras were clocked up, Roffey could only manage 128 all out. Despite the unusually dry wicket for early season, that was unlikely to be enough, Bridges opening bowlers Arran Brown and Conor Golding grabbing three wickets apiece.

Replying, Bridges also didn’t find batting easy – losing a wicket with just one run on the board. A 68 run partnership followed, with Golding and James Russell compiling 30s, only for wickets to tumble after debutant Jas Bassan and Jagota chipped in with two wickets each. But, from 109-6 there were no further alarms for Bridges.

On Sunday, Roffey made amends on a return visit to Ashstead, who started promisingly after success with the coin. At 93-2 there was no hint of what was to follow, only for a spectacular collapse to condemn the hosts to 127 all out, Jas Bassan and Will Fenwick each engineering two cheap dismissals. But, the bowling honours went to16 year old Lewis Shivnarain, who, after conceding 18 in his first over, then snaffled 5-27.

Theo Rivers and Bassan then shared a 59 run opening partnership, Bassan departing for a quickfire 32, before, with Rivers playing the anchor role, Usman Khan biffed 64 from just 24 balls, 52 of his runs coming from 6 sixes and 4 fours, Roffey winning with 23 overs and 9 wickets still in the bank.

Skipper Davies added: “We weren’t really at it against Three Bridges, but it blew the cobwebs away and helped to sharpen us up on Sunday, when the convincing manner of our win was very important in terms of confidence. It was especially pleasing to see young players Lewis and Will bowling so well – Lewis struggled a bit to start with, but soon put the balls in the right areas and reaped the dividends.

"Jas Bassan looks like an excellent signing – he’s fitting in really well and strengthens us with both bat and ball, and our other newcomer, wicketkeeper Ben Garrett, is shaping up promisingly, too. We’ve got a tough test at Bognor in the Sussex T20 Cup on Saturday, and after getting knocked out in the first round last year we’re keen to get through.”