Cuckfield book place in T20 Cup semi-finals after Karunanayake heroics

With no Premier Division play on Saturday, Cuckfield CC travelled to Horsham CC on Sunday for the quarter-final of the Sussex T20 Cup.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 3:13 pm
Nipun Karunanayake celebrates bringing up his half-century in Cuckfield CC's T20 Cup win at Horsham CC. Pictures by David Reid

Horsham won the toss and elected to bat. Will Rogers (0-23) and Will Galbraith-Gibbons (0-19) opened the bowling for Cuckfield with both youngsters hitting their lengths with the new ball.

Horsham struggled to attack in the power play, but with neither opener being dismissed, they were able to negotiate their way to 51 before losing their first wicket.

It was skipper Ben Candfield (2-38) that broke the partnership, dismissing Tom Johnson for 20 and then Craig Gallagher the very next ball for 26.

Karunanayake hit an unbeaten 74 off 60 balls in Cuckfield's triumph at Horsham

Consistent bowling from Cuckfield put the pressure on Horsham, and Josh Hayward (2-19) was able to claim the wickets of both Nick Cooper (six) and Michael Thornely (five).

Nick Oxley (51*) was star man for Horsham, negotiating the middle overs effectively and kicking on alongside Joe Willis (16*), hitting a boundary of the final delivery bringing to bring up his personal milestone.

At 133-4 from the 20 overs, the score was probably 20 runs under par. Cuckfield opened with Brad Gayler and Joe Ludlow, and it was the former who fell early to James Brehaut (1-25) for just one.

Horsham were looking to get into Cuckfield early, but the momentum shifted back only one over later with Ludlow taking 15 from the over.

Nipun Karunanayake and Ludlow built steadily, taking minimal risks and showing the quality of the batting surface. The pair accumulated 113 in a solid partnership, before Ludlow was run out for 46.

Despite Joe Cambridge being dismissed for a first ball duck, and the game drawing towards the final over, the earlier partnership meant Cuckfield had wickets in hand for the chase.

Karunanayake was able to free his hands, striking 74 not out from just 60 balls including three sixes. He was assisted by Ollie Graham (nine*), and Cuckfield came through to win by seven wickets with five balls remaining.

Cuckfield will play either West Chiltington & Thakeham CC or Bognor Regis CC in the semi-final of the T20 competition.

CUCKFIELD CC 3RD XI

Eager to break their run of bad form, Cuckfield CC 3rd XI travelled away to in-form Horsted Keynes CC in Division 7 Central.

With cricket looking unlikely at the start of the day both teams battled through early drizzle to get a full 80 overs in. Stand in captain, Rodney Candfield, won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to bowl.

As ever, the metronomic Josh Downey opened the bowling with Jack Best (2-34) in the supporting role. Downey continued his fine vein of form bowling his seven overs for just 13 runs and a wicket.

With both openers swiftly removed Cuckfield were cautiously optimistic. However, similarly to last week, Horsted Keynes’ middle order fought back.

Number three Harvey James bludgeoned 104, using the short straight boundaries extremely well with a flurry of straight sixes. Dave Lancaster (28) partnered James though most of his innings before falling to leg spinner Joe Cotton (2-56).

Cotton then removed Chris Rampling for two - mainly due to a catch of the season contender from Sammy Hart at long off.

With James removed by another Hart catch after making his century, Kit Clarke (20) and Will Jones (11) brought Horsted Keynes’ total up to 199. Downey and Candfield (1-23) were the pick of the bowlers.

With the knowledge that Cuckfield batted all the way down, Caleb Hawkins and Joe Cotton were sent in to open.

Tasked with keeping on top of a manageable run rate, both openers fell for one. Dom Seed (15) and Richie Amer (16) steadied the ship briefly before departing.

Though Cuckfield were ahead of the rate, two wickets apiece for the Horsted Keynes openers Harvey James (2-23) and Steve Hitchen (4-49) meant that the middle order had to perform.

Best fell for 18, followed by ducks from both Tommy Watson and Sammy Hart, leaving Cuckfield 92-7.

With the game on the line, the returning Piers Harrison and Sam Shepherd set about their business. The pair battled hard against a disciplined attack, Harrison using the short boundaries to his advantage coupled with Shepherd’s ability to pick gaps frustrated the home side.

Their partnership of 92 looked to put Cuckfield in a winning position, needing 30 from the remaining six overs. However, a change of bowling turned the tide for Horsted Keynes.

Will Jones (2-29) was brought into the attack and almost immediately removed Shepherd for 31. Josh Downey came to the crease, looking to support Harrison to the end.

This plan was quicky scuppered again by Jones, bowling Harrison for an excellent 47. Captain Rodney Candfield strode to the middle with 10 runs required off the last three overs.

As Horsted Keynes pressed for the last wicket, the pair defended staunchly, waiting for their moment. Candfield caressed a beautiful cover drive to the fence before taking a single off the last ball of the penultimate over, trusting Downey to finish the job.

Needing just four from the last over, Downey, the coolest man in the South-East, crashed the first ball of the last over down the ground for four to spare spectator nerves.

Cuckfield will be looking to build on this result against Southwick CC at home next week.

CUCKFIELD CC 4TH XI

Is it on, is it off, is it on, is it off, seemed to be the order of the start of the day for Cuckfield CC 4th XI's home clash with East Grinstead CC 4th XI in Division 11 Central (North).

What looked like a menacing sky and what was a risky decision to play ended up in a very pleasant game ending with the sun making an appearance.

Cuckfield lost the toss and with no surprise were put into bat but the wicket was dry and so took on the challenge. Richard Black (nine) and Tom Wright (13) got off to a bit of a rocky start both falling quite quickly but with some quickly scored runs.

Tom Hay (45) and Adam Jull (39) steadied the ship before losing four quick wickets for just four runs.

The tail wagged slightly but Cuckfield finished short of what was hoped would be a defendable target on just 144 all out. For East Grinstead, David Burton picked up 4-25 from seven overs.

George Ponsford (1-25) and Tim Power (1-23) both bowled tight lines and kept Cuckfield in the game, restricting the East Grinstead batsmen to under 60 in the first 20 overs, both with economies under three an over and a wicket each.

Rhys Hunt (33) and Oliver Charles (56) swung the game back in the visitor’s favour but Adam Jull (3-40) and Paul Meader (3-27) brought Cuckfield back into the match with accurate bowling.

Cuckfield had reduced East Grinstead to 124-8 with just four overs to go when Anuj Nagpal (17*) freed his arms taking East Grinstead to victory.