Sussex League cricket: Champions Cuckfield suffer opening-day loss to Bognor

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Cuckfield’s first XI are reigning Sussex Premier League champions – but their defence of the title began with a defeat to Bognor. Here’s a full report – plus news from the club of their second, third and fourth teams.

Cuckfield 1st v Bognor Regis

Sussex Premier

The sun was shining in Cuckfield as both teams arrived looking to start their 2024 Premier League campaign with victory. With Cuckfield winning the toss and the pitch looking to offer something with the new ball, skipper Wesley Marshall elected to field.

Cuckfield CC's Sussex Premier League champions of 2023 | Picture courtesy of Cuckfield CCCuckfield CC's Sussex Premier League champions of 2023 | Picture courtesy of Cuckfield CC
Cuckfield CC's Sussex Premier League champions of 2023 | Picture courtesy of Cuckfield CC

It didn’t take long for Cuckfield to be rewarded for this decision as Ryan Maskell (5) was removed by a stunning one-handed catch from Joe Cambridge off the bowling of Sam Candfield (3-24). Joe White (3-41) then got in on the action dismissing Ben Woolnough (0) the very next over, caught behind by Brad Gayler. White continued to bowl a testing line and length with the pitch being contusive to this approach.

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As such, despite putting up some resistance, it was Theo Beynon-Ayres (14) the next to fall in the same fashion as Woolnough. Bognor then looked to rebuild with Oliver Dabinett-Jays (6) and Aditya Ajit Rane, however this was hampered by a mix up and subsequent run out of Dabinett-Jays with both batsmen left looking at each other in the popping crease of the bowler’s end.

Nick Patterson then came into the attack to remove Scott Bingham for 1 and followed up removing Josh Seward for the same score. With wickets tumbling, Rane decided attack was the best form of defence and began to ramp up the run rate. However, it would Patterson to have the last laugh, beating him between bat and pad for a well-made 47 from 35 balls.

Despite the precarious position of being 92-7 the Bognor tail were stubborn and Cuckfield felt the absence of Club captain Josh Hayward, missing through injury. Jamie Woolnough’s watchful 40 from 67 balls helped Bognor Regis reach a competitive total of 169 All out in 43.2 overs.

Cuckfield skipper Wesley MarshallCuckfield skipper Wesley Marshall
Cuckfield skipper Wesley Marshall

Wesley Marshall and Joe Cambridge strode out to begin the Cuckfield innings facing up to the bowling of Josh Sargent (2-27) and Rane (0-32). Sargent would be the first to strike, Marshall (6) unfortunate to be dismissed in similar vein to Maskell in the first innings courtesy of a stunning one-handed snare from Josh Seward.

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Bognor bowled well in the opening period making life difficult for Cambridge and his new partner Will Nolan (33). Cambridge’s resistance would be snuffed out from the bowling of Sargent again, removing the opener caught behind for 9. Nolan was joined by Ollie Graham, the pair looking to kickstart the run chase.

However, it wasn’t to be with Graham (8) the next man to go, falling LBW to Matt Lee (2-23). Jago-Lewis followed shortly after. Nolan finally found a partner to settle in with in the form of Bradley Gayler (30), the pair ticked along nicely moving Cuckfield toward the 100-run mark. The introduction of Theo Benyon-Ayres (4-23) would prove to be the turning point in the game.

With Nolan’s gritty innings finally coming to an end as the ball cannoned into middle stump. The untimely run out of Dan Turner (1) didn’t help the home sides position as they looked to knock off the remaining 65 runs. Cuckfield’s tail couldn’t mirror the vigorous wag of their oppositions and only Joe White (12) could muster a score over double figures. The home side falling short by 27 runs.

A bump down to earth for last year’s Premier League champions as in truth they were outplayed by Bognor in the crucial moments of the game. Bognor will take a good amount of confidence into their home game vs Middleton next week and Cuckfield will be looking to kick start their campaign away vs Horsham.

Cuckfield 2nd v Lindfield 1st

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Cuckfield arrived at the common with little explanations to what the pitch would be like given the extremely wet start to the week which we had. But much to our surprise the common was dry and hard which helped make the way for an excellent game of cricket.

We lost the toss and were stuck into bat. However ,captain George Galbraith Gibbons and Dom Sear quickly got to their work and put on 111 for the first wicket partnership.

That brought Gregory Wisdom in who unfortunately didn’t last long after a close LBW shout did not go his way. However, this brought in Josh Downey who batted extremely well to bring up an unbeaten 55 of just 53 balls to turn the tide back in our favour. He was helped by useful runs by overseas debutant Flora Devonshire who scored a very important 14, and Theo Barker who scored 30 of off 17 balls including 3 sixes to get Cuckfield up to 233 for 7 off of their 45 overs.

In reply, Chris Osbourne got us off to the perfect start when he trapped the Lindfield opener LBW first ball of the innings. Osbourne continued his spell combined with some tight bowling form barker to finish with figures of 3 for 29 off 7 overs. Barker finishing with figures of 8 overs none for 22.

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Matt Slinger also bowled exceptionally partnered with Greg Wisdom to keep the run rate low in the middle overs of the game to keep Lindfield to a low run rate finishing with figures of 1 for 23 of off his 9 overs with Wisdom finishing with figures of 1 for 51 of off his 9 overs.

Credit to Lindfield batsmen Dominic Morgan who at the latter stage of their innings hit a swashbuckling 51 of just 30 balls to make the game very tight. In the end Barker and Sear finished the game off for Cuckfield with some tight Death bowling to give the visitors the full 30 points and a great start to the season. Massive credit to Lindfield for preparing a very good pitch which is not easy at the start of the season.

Cuckfield 3rd v Portslade 2nd

What a perfect day at Benfield Valley Park in Portslade to start the 2024 season. Having lost the toss, Cuckfield were put in to bat on a very grassy and uneven looking wicket that actually played surprisingly well through the day.

However, after a couple of early-doors sticky-wicket-induced aerial shots and a couple of good balls, things were looking pretty grim with four of the top five batsmen (Mathew Kuriakose, Julian Ward, Karoki Lewis and acting skipper Glenn Smith) back in the pavilion with only 6 runs on the scoreboard. A very early tea seemed inevitable.

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But the Portslade bowlers hadn’t reckoned on Chris Mole. Playing cautiously at first, he gradually built a chanceless innings of absolute class. Stroking the ball sublimely along the ground to all corners he only really cut loose in the 90s smashing a 6 to bring up his 100 in the last over.

Mole was ably supported by the ever-patient Abdul Razzaq (9) who helped carry the score to a somewhat more respectable 69-5 and then Adam Bennett (15) who struck a couple of well timed boundaries before succumbing at 100-6.

Will Ward came and went quickly but then came the best partnership of the day with Revelino Taites (23) playing judiciously, mixing muscular hits to the fence with quick singles to keep the score ticking over. 100 for 7 became 181 for 8 and 194 at the end of 40 overs with Mole and Meader not out on 115 and 1 respectively.

With Jamie Tuddenham (2-31 off 8) bowling beautifully we had Portslade at a shaky 11 for 2. However the nos 1 and 4 batted sensibly and took the score to 100-3, although they did survive a couple of early dropped chances.

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Will Ward (0-44 off 8) struggled to find his customary consistency but with the introduction of the wily Mole (1-24 off 6.5) and zippy and accurate Taites (1-32 off 8), the Portslade runs began to dry up with the required rate climbing to 7 an over. We were in with a chance.

Unfortunately, a combination of some lusty blows in the last few overs and some more dropped catches, gave the home team a fairly comfortable win by 5 wickets in the 38th over.

A good competitive match with a Mole masterclass, marred only by defeat and the old adage, ‘catches win…’

Cuckfield 4th v Lindfield 3rd

It was a disappointing defeat on opening weekend for Cuckfield IV XI against Lindfield CC as they won by a number of wickets.

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Winning the toss, Adam Jull decided to bat and the opening pair of James Buckeridge (9) and Iain Pringle (8) strode out into the beautiful summer sun looking to get early runs on the board.

Like excellent groundworkers, they began laying what looked to be dependable foundations; starts from both unfortunately could not be capitalised upon with some excellent swing bowling halting both just as they looked ready to release their shackles.

With the worst of the new ball seen to, Jack Waghorn (35) and Jull (23) settled into what could have become a commanding and dominant innings; alas, both excellent starts were sadly cut short. Richard Duffield (21) and Charlie Mole (17) similarly came, saw, threatened to conquer and then were toppled following excellent work in the field by Lindfield.

Liam Hussellman (4*) emerged and proved a dependable other-half to several fickle partnerships that, through no fault of his own, never materialised into anything meaningful: Freddie Fairhill (3) and Jonathan Hutchings (4) sought to give the tail a bit of wag, but sadly Fido’s best days were behind him. Sam Duffield (0*) ensured that Cuckfield completed the full complement of overs.

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146/9 looked a decent score on a pitch with a bit of life and optimism was buzzing around the home side as they tucked into their excellently sourced lunch.

Jull set an aggressive field in an attempt to dislodge Lindfield’s openers. Neil Fairhall (0-20) and Freddie Fairhall (0-19) were tasked with making the breakthrough. They didn’t do too much wrong with Occasional passes of the bat (sadly, without the desired peck on the cheek) kept those in the field optimistic that the much-needed flurry was imminent.

As the sun began its lazy descent, Cuckfield’s hopes followed a similar trajectory. An incredibly difficult chance for Iain Pringle was dropped with there being no other potential catches Jull turned to Husselman (0-31) to try to turn fortunes in their favour with the spinner releasing some delightfully pitched balls that had the batsman guessing - sadly,they kept on guessing right.

Sam Duffield (0-16) similarly toiled, but to no avail. Jull himself (0-9) kept it the tightest and probably came closest to a breakthrough, whilst Richard Duffield (0-11) and Charlie Mole (0-7) continued to present the everpresent openers with questions to answer.

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In his first over for the club, in what proved a baptism of fire for the Cuckfield debutant, Jonathan Hutchings (0-23) gave the visitors an opportunity to get started early on the long 3.6 mile journey home and they joyfully obliged reaching the target within his 6 balls.

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