Burgess Hill started their competitive season with a win on Saturday and what a win it was.
Travelling to Three Bridges in the Gray Nicholls T20 Cup Hill went into the game as underdogs but came out of it jubilantly victorious as they won a tight game by 8 runs.
Having won the toss and electing to bat Tom Trowbridge and Jack Simpson put on 17 for the first wicket as Bridges chose to open with the pace of Andrew Smith and Matt Blandford. Simpson holed out on the ropes for 8, Karl Boffey fell for 6 to Danny Alderman’s medium seamers but it was a excellent and much needed 60 run partnership from Trowbridge and Nathan Cooper that stabilised and set the platform for Hill to get to a competitive total.
Cooper struck 21 including the biggest six of the game high over the sightscreen but fell stumped off the bowling of Michael Rose. Trowbridge reached 51 before he was unfortunately run-out just three runs later but Aaron Barnes, Tom Penfold and in particular Ian Simpson (21) hit some late innings boundaries to get Hill up to 133-5 from their allotted 20 overs.
Bridges started well with Bradley Gayler and Danny Alderman finding the boundary rope early, making the most of the fielding restrictions. In contrast to Bridges however Hill elected to use medium pace early and Peter Billinghay bowled with fantastic control keeping things tight from his end. He was rewarded when Gayler miss timed a pull shot to Barnes at mid-wicket and when Hugh Warmisham removed Danny Alderman caught at fly-slip by Dan Yates suddenly 31-0 had become 38-2 with the danger men removed.
When Billinghay and Barnes combined again to remove Conor Golding, Bridges were on the back foot at 39-3. Once again, in an uncanny case of déjà vu, Billinghay and Barnes took their third double-act victim thanks to a superb juggling act from Barnes, again at mid-wicket, having had the ball well and truly smashed at him, he did very well to hang on. Former Crawley batsmen Sohail Shah was then brilliantly run-out by Ian Simpson and Hill sensed victory with Bridges looking down and out at 48-5.
James Russell, mindful of the situation had to bat slowly and watchfully whilst Tom Blandford at the other end went on the attack with a flat-six off the bowling of Yates.
Trying to repeat the trick however he could only sky a steepler to a grateful Warmisham on the deep-midwicket boundary. Yates (2-16) bowled very well to keep things tight, too tight for Michael Rose who was stumped, and Jack Simpson (0-21) at the other end was equally unyielding as Bridges crept to a position to have a dip in the last few overs. Ian Simpson returned and it was left him and Warmisham to bowl the final four overs with Bridges needing 49 for victory.
Matt Blandford gave Bridges hope with a couple of big shots but when he holed out to Cooper at long-on off the bowling of Warmisham and Andrew Smith fell in the penultimate over from Simpson Bridges were left needing 17 from the final over, to be bowled by Warmisham. Russell was still there and remained Bridges only real hope and those hopes were lifted as he hit the first ball for four. Two runs from the next ball meant 11 needed from 4 balls, a wide and a dot meant 10 from 3 and then a single left Bridges needing 9 from 2 balls and number 11 Adrian Chappell on strike. Both balls sailed through to keeper Mackenzie, the large travelling support cheered and Hill had completed a cup upset to remember.
Russell was left 35 not out but it was the excellent bowling and fielding in particular Billinghay’s 3-11, Yates’ 2-16 and Barnes’ three catches, that won the match for Hill in the second innings.