Maskell demolishes Middleton as Bognor claim Sussex Premier League derby victory

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A quite sensational 162* from captain Ryan Maskell saw Bognor beat Middleton to make it two wins from two in the Premier League, on a day when Bognor remembered former captain Norman Birkett.

Bognor won the toss and opted to bowl after a slight rain delay, with Aditya Rane picking up Ollie Haines and Mason Robinson early on, both well caught in the covers by Mike Harris.

Ben Woolnough accounted for Josh Wood and James Barker to further good catches from Ollie Dabinett-Jays and Josh Sargeant.

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However, Middleton began an excellent fightback via Sean Heather (52) and the returning Harry Hovey, as both players capitalised on some wayward bowling and friendly straight boundaries.

Ryan Maskell salutes the crowd after a brilliant 162* against Middleton | Picture: Bognor CCRyan Maskell salutes the crowd after a brilliant 162* against Middleton | Picture: Bognor CC
Ryan Maskell salutes the crowd after a brilliant 162* against Middleton | Picture: Bognor CC

Perhaps Maskell's first key intervention of the day came at the mid-point of the Middleton innings, when some choice words re-focused the Bognor bowling attack.

Gradually, a combination of Harris, Rane and Theo Beynon-Ayres turned the screw, with the latter accounting for Heather.

But there was no stopping Hovey's charge as he muscled his way to a brilliant maiden hundred for Middleton, eventually finishing on 120 off only 79 balls, with seven sixes.

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Rane and Woolnough combined to see Hovey caught in the deep, before Rane then picked up two late wickets to finish with the excellent figures of 5-37. At halfway, Middleton were in the driving seat.

This position continued as some nagging bowling from Kiwi James Hartshorn limited Bognor in the powerplay, with the overseas accounting for Beynon-Ayres to leave Bognor 52-1.

Maskell, who had been quiet to this point, then began to open his shoulders, perhaps inspired by some 'encouragement' from the Middleton fielders.

He combined with Harris to take the score to 122, before the latter gave it away with a poorly judged single. That brought Dabinett-Jays in, and Maskell seized the initiative, striking Russell Talman and Wood for enormous sixes on his way to a fantastic hundred.

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Although Heather rotated his bowlers, it increasingly felt like Maskell's day. With Dabinett-Jays providing the perfect foil, Bognor accelerated; the now-cramping Maskell dealing almost exclusively in boundaries.

In front of a healthy crowd, Dabinett-Jays (41*) crashed one over cover to seal the win for Bognor, but it was Maskell who was undeniably the hero, with one of the best innings ever played in a Bognor shirt.