Cuckfield Cricket Club round-up: Graham stars again as first team beat Middleton

The in-form Ollie Graham hit a superb century as Cuckfield beat Middleton on Saturday.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 7:56 am
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 7:58 am

Cuckfield 1st XI vs Middleton 1st XI

It was dark and overcast as the teams arrived at Cuckfield CC but the mood in both camps was lifted as the covers were removed to reveal a good surface that would offer plenty for both batsmen and bowlers. Middleton won the toss, elected to bowl and a new opening partnership of Chris Mole and Brad Gayler took to the pitch for Cuckfield.

Russell Talman (3-103) and Tommy Davies (1-9) took the new ball for Middleton and bowled well early on exploiting the movement the pitch had to offer.

Ollie Graham
Ollie Graham

Ever the aggressor, Mole looked to put the pressure back on the bowlers striking a lovely lofted straight drive to bring up the first boundary of the day. However, this would be his last contribution as an innocuous delivery from Davies in the next over saw him caught down the leg side for 5. Gayler followed shortly after LBW to Talman for 8. This brought Cuckfield's two highest run-scorers for the season together at the crease in Nipun Karunanayake and Ollie Graham as the batting side looked to rebuild. Both looked to rotate the strike and capitalise on any poor balls but as the scoreboard ticked over to 38, Talman produced a delivery the leapt from a length to wrap Karunanayake on the glove and a good catch was taken at first slip by Sean Heather, leaving Cuckfield struggling at 38-3.

The pressure was now firmly on the home side as Harry Clark got his innings underway. However, he started confidently and Graham began to hit his stride playing some classy strokes. The pair continued to bat aggressively but with respect as Heather (0-18), Harry Hovey (0-17) and George Briance (0-28) produced some good deliveries. Clark worked his way up through the gears reaching 50 followed shortly by Graham.

The pair continued to accumulate the runs before Clark was finally dismissed by Reynolds for 89 with the score at 195. Cameos from Joe Cambridge (23) and Ben Candfield (29) were scored at over a run a ball before both were ended by Matthew Reynolds (4-57) as Graham continued to work the field and provide the glue for the innings. Graham brought up a well-deserved 100 from 127 balls before a well-taken stumping from Mason Robinson off the bowling of Reynolds ended his innings. Cuckfield ended on 285-8 from their 58 overs a good total but definitely not out of reach.

Middleton got off to a flying start with league stalwart Sean Heather taking advantage of some loose bowling from the Cuckfield openers Joe White (0-29) and Chris Osbourne (0-24). George Briance also found the boundary with ease as the scoreboard raced to 80-0. Cuckfield turned to the proven pairing of Nick Patterson and Josh Hayward to try and regain some control and the flow of runs began to ease. Heather’s innings was brought to an end on 48 as Hayward took a spiralling catch at fine leg from a top edge off the bowling of Patterson. This brought Mason Robinson to the crease and Briance continued to attack, striking some fine 6’s over mid-wicket off the bowling of Hayward. The bowling was tight and Robinson struggled to utilise his free-flowing stroke play.

His innings of 23 was brought to a close by some clean glovework from Brad Gayler, Stumped off the bowling of Hayward. Mahesh Rawat came to the crease and provided some stability as Briance reached 50 but the conditions were tough for both teams as the low cloud cover provided challenging light for both sides to operate in. Briance’s resistance was finally broken on 65 by a good catch from Chris Mole at slip, much to the relief of Patterson as two previous chances had gone down.

Patterson (4-44) and Hayward (4-67) continued to turn the screw and Rawat was dismissed on 14 caught at point by Harry Clark from the bowling of Patterson. Wickets then continued to fall at regular intervals with Nipun Karunanayake (2-4) picking up the final 2 from just 11 balls.

The day came to a close with Middleton bowled out for 181, a fine comeback from Cuckfield as the game felt it could easily have swung either way in the early period of the Middleton innings.

Chippingdale 1st XI vs Cuckfield 2nd XI

Cuckfield arrived at Chippingdale for a top of the table clash after a dreadful week of weather.

It was no surprise that when Chippingdale skipper, Josh Bourne, won the toss he decided to bowl first. Cuckfield’s innings did not get off to a good start when Will Rossiter, on his return to the team, was run out for 2. Then, another two wickets fell quickly to good bowling from Bourne (2-16), Gary Mockford (1-8) and Harry Hughes (0-13) reducing Cuckfield to 28-3 on a pitch offering assistance to the bowlers.

Dan Turner (26) then came to the crease, alongside George Galbraith-Gibbons (39), and began to score more freely. The two put on an important partnership worth 53, however when Turner fell victim to Saad Qutab (4-27) this began the flurry of wickets at regular intervals with Lewis Wells also picking up 2-27. No Cuckfield batsman stayed at the crease long enough to really apply themselves and post a competitive total which meant that Cuckfield were bowled out for 121 in just 38.3 overs.

Disappointed with their batting performance, Cuckfield were determined to make a fast start in their bowling innings to put pressure onto the Chippingdale line up looking to chase down the low total. With some tidy bowling, from Sam Candfield in particular (0-14), Cuckfield looked likely to make some early inroads. Though Dan Robinson (12*) and Samuel Avinou (22*) were fearless in their batting, getting Chippingdale off to a fast start at 37-0. Unfortunately, after 8.3 overs, an injury to Tommy Watson forced play to stop and eventually abandoned the game.

Cuckfield have another important game next week with Crawley making the short trip over. Cuckfield will be looking to get back to winning ways to stay in the fight for promotion.

Brighton & Hove 3rd XI vs Cuckfield 3rd XI

Having assessed the green, rain affected pitch at The Nevill, the priority for both Captains was to win the toss and field. The old adage of tails never fails did once again did not ring true for Captain Goff Baker! Cuckfield were put into bat.

Jeremy Crampton faced the first ball of the innings a real snorter which reared up off a length onto his bat which then popped up to gully for an easy catch. A Diamond duck and not the best way to start the game. Dom Seed (14) and Tom Wright (19) batted very sensibly on a difficult track with variable bounce and aided with a number of wides from the opposition, put on a partnership of 34.

A target of 100 seemed possible and with the pitch unlikely to get any better was likely to be a competitive score. Useful contributions from Alex Hardwicke (17), Piers Harrison (27) and Greg Seed (11) made that target look achievable. The stage was set for Tim Power (23) to enter and ably assisted by the bowler bowling short TP in his unique style pulled and cut to all parts of the ground meaning Cuckfield finished on a total of 128- 9 batting out the 40 overs. This we felt was a competitive total if we bowled straight and let the pitch do the work.

Whilst Tim Power took the early wicket of O Nasseri, J Davies and K Masters batted stubbornly and rode their luck to push the score to 55 before Goff Baker had K Masters (32) caught behind by Alex Hardwicke the second of two good catches he took behind the stumps. Greg Seed and Goff Baker then bowled the next 12 overs in tandem conceding only 16 runs with Seed bowling beautifully and taking 4 wickets. Unfortunately, the pressure could not be maintained by the remaining bowlers and with Brighton & Hove skipper, Ashley Statham, being very disciplined and scoring an unbeaten 29, victory was secured by Brighton and Hove in the 37th over.

Disappointing to lose a game that had been heavily influenced by the winning of the toss but full credit to Brighton & Hove for sticking to their task and winning the game.

Cuckfield 4th XI vs Balcombe 3rd XI

Cuckfield 4th XI took on Balcombe 3rd XI at Cuckfield Park this week on what was a very damp wicket with a somewhat sketchy weather forecast. Cuckfield lost the toss and the visitors unsurprisingly put us in to bat. This week saw the return of James Buckeridge from injury and he was set the task of opening the batting. He didn't disappoint and gave Cuckfield a very good starting base making 75 invaluable runs.

The wicket continued to get muddier with more and more sawdust being dispensed to try and keep the bowlers on their feet. Cuckfield continued to score runs at a steady pace with a fine innings of 65 from young Adam Bennett saw Cuckfield end the 40 overs on 226/5 without too much trouble. Both Buckeridge and Bennett reaching their 50s in the same over. A concerted effort from Balcombe however limited the scoring to just 26 in the last 9 overs.

Great bowling displays from Bryce Van Straaten (0-30) and George Ponsford (1-16) continued to build pressure restricting the Balcombe openers to just under 50 in the first 20 overs. Something had to give as the required run rate grew and grew.

A phenomenal bowling spell by Adam Jull saw the visitors batting crumble with Adam walking away with 7 wickets for just 27 runs and finishing the game in Cuckfield’s favour. Balcombe’s newcomer Jeremy Toop being the only batsmen to significantly bother the scorers with a very cautious and mature 50. Cuckfield had managed a win despite the weather threatening to steal victory from them late in the game to record their second win of the season.