Horsham win cricket 'knee-trembler' at Roffey

Derbies often provide memorable cricket, and when Horsham travelled to near neighbours Roffey last Saturday it was a classic encounter, a low-scoring knee-trembler, Horsham winning by one wicket, with both sides pressing for glory.

Heavy overnight rain delayed the start, but umpires Mark Dunford and Mike Newcombe soon got the game under way with a five over per side deduction after Horsham had made two correct decisions – winning the toss and, not knowing the effect of the weather on the pitch, and with an unsettled forecast, inserting Roffey.

A sound start was made, but, from 65-2, Roffey stumbled to 93-5, (five different bowlers taking the wickets), before sliding to 124 all out from 33.4 overs, Sam Henderson top-scoring with 23 – only surpassed by extras (25, including 18 wides).

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Rohit Jagota in recent Roffey action against Eastbourne / Picture: Steve Robards

Rohit Jagota also posted a 20, Jas Bassan and skipper Matt Davies reaching double figures. Ben Williams, Ben Lister and Nick Cooper grabbed two wickets apiece, but the bowling honours went to Sam Martin-Jenkins, who did what front line bowlers should – dismissing an opener, and then polishing off the tail, the last two batsmen surviving for just five balls between them.

Replying, Horsham echoed Roffey’s start, and at 64-2, surely the 125 target was indefensible, until - after Tom Johnson and Joe Willis had contributed 24 and 27, respectively, Harnoop Kalsi finished with three out of the first four wickets and Bassan and George Fleming whittled away the mid order. At 105-8 both sides entertained high hopes.

Then, Jamie Atkins accounted for Martin-Jenkins with the scores level, and the last pair at the crease, but, wicketkeeper Sam Bell’s unbeaten 18 saw Horsham home, the win elevating his side to third, one spot behind Roffey. East Grinstead won again, moving them 20 points clear at the top of the table, and, after losing their fifth consecutive game, Eastbourne remain bottom, one place below Hastings, who were 93 all out chasing 127 against Preston Nomads.

Reflecting on the breathtaking derby, Horsham Cricket Manager Ben Williams, who was batting at the death, told the County Times: “It was a great game played in the right spirit and well done to Roffey’s groundsman and volunteers for getting the game on after all the rain. Roffey have had the wood over us in recent years and they don’t often lose at home, so it was a special win for us,

"Sam Bell was ice cool at the end, getting us over the line. The conditions were helpful to bowlers, but we bowled well as a unit and fielded well, restricting Roffey. After bouncing back from relegation we’ve returned to the Premiership better than expected: we’re enjoying playing together as a team without fear of losing and it’s great to see the young players contributing week by week.”

Roffey skipper Matt Davies told us: “Obviously it was a very disappointing result for us, but Horsham deserved to win. It was a difficult pitch and 160 would’ve been a good score, at 93-4 drinks we should easily have posted a total close to that. The batting display from drinks onwards was nowhere near good enough.

"We bowled well – Harnoop and Jas particularly - but just didn’t have enough runs. We’ve got to dust ourselves down and go again – the next run of games will define our season, so we’ve got to focus on putting good performances in.”

On Saturday, with, until the last four weeks of the season, games now having a maximum 110 overs, Roffey travel to 7th-placed Middleton, while Horsham return to their Cricketfield Road base to welcome Brighton & Hove (8th).