Phelps and Leckie fifties, but Heath draw

Matt O'Keeffe bowls to Sean Dobbs
Matt O'Keeffe bowls to Sean Dobbs
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Jonny Phelps and Isaac Leckie hit 50s as Haywards Heath drew with Chichester Priory Park on Saturday.

Once again Heath strapped the pads on first after winning the toss. The home team made all the early running aside from the dismissal of Blunt for 11, and Chichester were made to pay for dropping Phelps early in his innings as the in-form opener picked up where he left off the week before.

Matt O'Keeffe

Matt O'Keeffe

After a measured start Phelps upped the tempo when the change bowlers came on, taking 60 from the last 40 balls of his innings before falling to Hartard for 84 from just 72 balls. The scoring rate of Phelps had taken Heath past 150 before the halfway point in the innings and number 3 Leckie ensured this didn’t go to waste as he calmly manoeuvred the ball and rotated strike.

After Smith had fallen cheaply to the returning opening bowler Patel, Bailey (21) played some assured strokes before clipping a half volley from the same bowler to the square leg fielder. Leckie continued untroubled throughout and brought up his 50 in the 43rd over - he was well supported by the lower middle order of Haynes (16) and O’Keeffe (29*).

With Heath and Chichester sitting 3rd and 4th in the league table points were at a premium, so when Leckie eventually fell to Hartard for 69 it brought about a declaration from Smith - 261 for 7 after 50 overs.

Hartard finished with figures of 4-66 from 14.5.

David Everett

David Everett

O’Keeffe bowled with good rhythm and would have had an early wicket to his name had it not been for a drop in the outfield – the first of many that would be put down throughout the innings.

Everett picked up two wickets but was not able to offer his normal control so was replaced after 4 overs by Phelps, who put in his best performance of the season with the ball. In the middle of a fine spell he took the wicket of Hasted (26) to break a partnership of 60 that the Chichester number 3 had built with their form batsman Hartard (28).

Menzies came into the attack and looked threatening throughout a tight spell - rewarded with the key wicket of Hartard – so when Phelps then took another scalp Chichester were 96-5 with 25 overs left to bat and Heath were closing in on a valuable win. However with the experienced pair of Jonathon Heaven and Patel now at the crease it was soon apparent that Chichester had decided a win of their own was no longer possible.

Despite some generous field settings - that resulted in a flattering final score - the pair could not be tempted into many risky strokes and negotiated the second half of the innings admirably to ensure an important draw for their side. Smith, Bailey, O’Keeffe and Phelps all had a crack at them at various stages but to no avail as Chichester closed the innings on 211-5, Heaven 55* and Patel 53*.

Chichester and Heath maintained their respective league positions of third and fourth.