Horsham squeak past near-neighbours Billingshurst

Action from Billingshurst v Horsham. Pictures by Steve RobardsAction from Billingshurst v Horsham. Pictures by Steve Robards
Action from Billingshurst v Horsham. Pictures by Steve Robards
It was a low scoring throbber of a game at Jubilee Fields last Saturday with more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

After electing to bat, Billingshurst CC set off briskly, only for a late order collapse to leave them all out for a seemingly inadequate 140, (although worth more considering the still damp and slow outfield).

Then, Horsham CC slid to six down with 83 still needed and their big batting guns back in the hutch.

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However, against challenging bowling, a brave rear guard action enabled Horsham to edge home by two wickets with skipper Michael Thornely admitting: “I thought we’d lost it!”

Billingshurst's Shakeem Clarke steams into the attackBillingshurst's Shakeem Clarke steams into the attack
Billingshurst's Shakeem Clarke steams into the attack

With five fours and a six, wicketkeeper Josh Wood (31) got Billi off to a positive start in a 51 run opening partnership, before wickets from Will Beer and Sam Martin-Jenkins, and a direct hit run out by Thornely reduced them to 56-3.

Mid-order application took the score to 127-6, but Billi subsided with three late wickets from Beer, who finished with 4-16, and two from Chris Nash, bowling with flight and guile, despite not having delivered a ball for two years.

When Horsham replied, Tom Johnson soon fell victim to Shakeem Clarke (2-19) - courtesy of a tumbling catch by Isaac Thornely in the covers – Clarke bowling almost as menacingly as his father, former West Indies international Sylvester.

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Then, from 39-1, Horsham slumped to 58-6, with Beer, Thornely and Nash - Sussex pros past and present – all gone with left-armer Jack Smith (3-17) particularly impressive, and a Billi win looking highly likely.

Nick Oxley at the crease for HorshamNick Oxley at the crease for Horsham
Nick Oxley at the crease for Horsham

However, Horsham keeper Sam Bell had other ideas, weathering the storm from a hostile home attack, top scoring with 33, with Nick Cooper and Martin-Jenkins battling through, finishing unbeaten with 28 and 13 respectively, securing Horsham’s two wicket win with five overs unused.

A full scorecard from the game can be found here.

Post-match a somewhat relieved Thornely told the County Times: “Jack Smith bowled very well at us, but Sam Bell managed to turn the game round with Nick Cooper, who was very calm at the crease.”

Cooper added: “It was a bit tense at the end, but it was just a case of sticking at it!”

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Thwarted Billi skipper Mike Burroughs said: “The pitch was a bit of a leveller, and when we had them six down I thought we had them, but Nick (Cooper) batted so well at the end.”

Second behind Bognor Regis CC - who won again - Horsham travel to fourth-placed Mayfield CC on Saturday, while Billingshurst, in search of a first win, remain at home - to fellow strugglers, Preston Nomads CC 2nd XI.

With their strong bowling line up, surely Billi will not be long deprived of an elusive victory.

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