Cuckfield duo dazzle but rain wins the day

Heavy rain denied Cuckfield CC the opportunity to capitalise on a big total away at Three Bridges CC in the Premier Division on Saturday.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 2:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 2:02 pm

On the back of a comprehensive win batting first last week, and on a good Bridges deck, stand in skipper Joe Ludlow won the toss and elected to bat first.

Joe Cambridge and Ludlow opened up for Cuckfield taking the score to 40 before Cambridge (30) was caught at backward square leg off the bowling of Arran Brown (1-71) in the 12th over.

Cuckfield overseas player, Nipun Karunanayake, joined Ludlow and the pair played watchfully as Bridges change bowlers of New Zealand overseas Will O’Donnell (0-69) and young George Cave (1-47) came into the attack.

Nipun Karunanayake hit a swashbuckling unbeaten 121 for Cuckfield CC in their rain-affected game at Three Bridges CC. Pictures by David Reid

Running well and punishing the occasional loose delivery, the pair added 50 before Ludlow (26) miscued one and was easily caught by Brown off Cave.

At 91-2 in the 27th over, the in-form Ollie Graham joined Karunanayake and the pair proceeded to put on a batting masterclass that the Bridges bowling changes had no answer to.

The next 20 overs added 100 to the score seeing both batsmen bring up fifties, and at 195-2 with 10 overs to go the stage was set for a big total.

Karunanayake (121*) brought up his hundred first in 127 balls including 10 fours and two sixes, closely followed by Graham (102) from 95 deliveries including eight fours and four sixes.

Ollie Graham brings up his second ton of the season at Bridges

Excellent running between the wickets, coupled with some majestic big-hitting saw Cuckfield reach 295-3 at the end of their 58 overs, the final over being delayed by ten minutes for rain.

Facing a huge total and looming rain clouds, the Bridges openers looked uneasy against the Cuckfield opening attack of Nick Patterson (0-3) and Will Rogers (1-5), with Connor Golding (three) falling victim to Rogers, caught by James Anyon at mid-on.

Unfortunately for Cuckfield those clouds began to yield rain, and lots of it, and at 8-1 in just the sixth over the players came off for rain and an hour and a half later the game was abandoned.

Cuckfield, who sit seventh but are just seven points clear of the drop, travel to fifth-placed Eastbourne CC next week.

CUCKFIELD CC 2ND XI

Cuckfield CC 2nd XI hosted Stirlands CC on a rain-affected Saturday, with the home team looking to continue the fight for promotion in Division 4 West.

Stirlands won the toss and chose to bat first. Openers William Beale (21) and captain Jake Moores (42) got away to a strong start, making the most of some below par cricket from Cuckfield.

The first wicket was taken by the impressive Will Galbraith-Gibbons (4-12). This led to a steady fall of wickets with Galbraith-Gibbons being supported by Matt Slinger (3-15), who bowled excellently to put the pressure on the batting team.

The remaining wickets were taken by Chris Osborne (1-35), Chris Taylor (1-15) and Greg Seed (1-13) as Stirlands were bowled out for 142 in 44.3 overs, with Eddie Morison (30*) batting sensibly to get the away side to the last over.

Cuckfield started their reply tentatively with Will Rossiter and Connor Bettsworth seeing off the new ball, surviving an excellent spell of swing bowling from opener George Fountain (0-12).

Bettsworth fell for a well-made 19 with the rain closing in. Taylor joined Rossiter at the crease and the pair navigated Cuckfield to a strong position as the rain came down.

After a short delay the target was revised to 106. Overs were not the issue but with more rain on the horizon Cuckfield needed to get the remaining runs quickly.

The flamboyant Rossiter took it upon himself to take any rain out of the equation, hitting Dominic Fecher for 26 in an over, including two towering sixes.

Rossiter (55) fell the next over and the game was seen home by a composed Taylor (16*) and Tommy Watson (two*).

The win keeps Cuckfield’s promotion hopes alive as they look forward to hosting Horsham Trinity CC next week.

CUCKFIELD CC 3RD XI

With grey skies overhead and the promise of showers throughout the day, a youthful Cuckfield CC 3rd XI took on Portslade CC 2nd XI on the North Pitch in Division 7 Central.

With experienced players Goff Baker and Rodney Candfield unavailable, stand in captain Jack Best won the toss and decided to bowl first.

The young pair of Theo Barker (2-22) and Sammy Hart (0-18) quickly hit their stride and took a few early wickets whilst restricting Portslade to very few runs off the bat.

Only Scott Ridge (33), who did his best Stuart Broad in the 2013 Ashes impression, offered any meaningful resistance.

Despite the odd rain break, Cuckfield continued to work away with the ball. Best (2-21) replaced Barker and Sam Shepherd (1-28) replaced Hart as rain kept on threatening.

Wickets fell at regular intervals as Portslade struggled against a disciplined attack, partnered with excellent work in the field.

After drinks Rev Taites (1-28) replaced Best and found a quick wicket before Wills Buttress (21) pounced on a few bad balls.

Leg spinner Jamie Hatt (2-12) came down the hill and was the pick of the bowlers. His exceptional control of line and length gave the remaining Portslade batsmen little chance of easy runs.

Hatt’s outstanding spell of seven overs for just 12 runs - taking two wickets - as well as some good pressure from Barker and Best meant that Portslade finished on 136-8.

Portslade were a few runs short of a good total but with more rain forecast it was always going to be a tricky chase.

After a short innings break, Tom Wright and Tom Hay were sent in to weather the early storm. Tasked with seeing off the new ball, both openers were watchful under overcast conditions.

Runs were at a premium and Hay was unlucky to fall on the first ball back after a short rain delay for six. This brought Alex Hardwicke to the crease who looked to battle back against a decent Portslade attack.

Wright fell for eight and the form man, Dom Seed came to the crease. The pair battled well as Portslade chopped and changed their attack to find another breakthrough.

Rain came again, this time altering the match. Due to lost time CCC were chasing 130 from their now 38 overs.

This looked to be very achievable before Hardwicke fell on 30, chipping and easy chance back to Buttress (3-27). Once Seed fell for 22 Cuckfield needed their experienced middle order to see the job through.

Runs continued at a trickle but Piers Harrison (13), Best (nine) and Shepherd (duck) all failed to see the game out. Hart (eight) defended staunchly but runs were at a premium as Portslade fought their way back into the contest.

With 20 runs needed off 10 overs, Rev Taites entered the fray. Portslade knew another wicket would pile on the pressure, but the Cuckfield number nine had other ideas.

Wasting little time, Taites (13*) swept bravely to the boundary before dispatching another one to the rope for the win.

Another win for the 3rd XI gives them an opportunity to fight their way into the promotion places but they have the top three in the league still to face.

CUCKFIELD CC 4TH XI

On a warm and humid day, with an almost 100 per cent chance of some sort of rain delay, Cuckfield CC 4th XI made their longest trip of the season to the edges of Kent to take on Dormansland CC 2nd XI in Division 11 Central (North).

With Dormansland just above Cuckfield in the league, having played a game more and with a 20 point cushion, this was ’must win’ for Cuckfield and fingers were crossed for the rain to skirt round and get a full game played.

On arrival, the ground looked in excellent condition, despite the rain from the day before – appreciation to the Dormansland ground team must be given, and a few early arrivals from the 4th XI assisted in erecting the sight screens.

On closer inspection, the pitch was a little damp and soft and if Cuckfield could win the toss they would have inserted Dormansland – however, as per practically all the games so far this season the skipper lost the toss and Cuckfield were given the opportunity to have a bat.

The opening partnership of James Buckeridge (100) and Bertie Sheldon (43) had a steady start getting used to the bowling of the Dormansland openers – Dale Whitford (2-54) and Ollie Holman (1-19).

Both played sensibly showing great technique, especially from the youngster Sheldon. With the ball often gripping and sticking, several shots were played early but fortunately these mis-timed shots fell into the gaps in the field.

Holman showed great pace and Whitford was putting the ball in the right place, but the openers got into a rhythm and punished the shorter balls that sat up nicely to great effect – the surprise here was that the senior player Buckeridge was the more aggressive, reaching his 50 in double quick time resulting in a mid-innings total of 120 without loss.

Andrew Digby (3-29) was putting the ball in the right spot and slowing the run rate continued after the break, but it was the bowling of Jack Gunter (2-35) who finally made the breakthrough taking the wicket of Sheldon who just mistimed a sweep and got a top edge for a simple caught and bowled with the Cuckfield score on 136.

With the fall of the first wicket in the 25th over, and with such a good foundation, the next few batters looked to push the total on, but with the ball still sticking in the pitch the timing was not quite there.

A number of top edges and poor shot selections saw wickets tumble regularly at one end with Buckeridge holding the other and eventually hitting his century before attempting a ramp and playing on. Cuckfield eventually finishing on 187 for 9 from their 40 overs.

After the innings break, Dormansland embarked on their run chase with the rain clouds circling and thunder to be heard all around the ground.

Looking to get off to a fast start with the prospect of rain, the Cuckfield opening bowlers Adam Jull (2-25) and George Ponsford (2-23) reduced Dormansland to 31-3 from 13 overs.

At this point the weather intervened and the covers were put on at 4.35pm. The rain looked set for the rest of the day, but with an hour lost, the skies cleared and we finally got back under way.

With still around three hours daylight remaining the captains agreed to keep the full 40 overs per side.

Nick Hellier and Gunter looked to stabilise the Dormansland innings as Jull and Ponsford finished their nine over spells with Ponsford eventually taking the wicket of the dangerous looking Gunter via a smart catch at deep mid-on by Richard Loveridge, with the total on 49.

Completion of the opening bowler’s spells saw the introduction of Sheldon (4-10) and Bryce Van Straaten (1-12). The pace of Sheldon had the Dormansland batters in deep trouble.

A couple of beautiful full deliveries saw the stumps rearranged twice followed by the pick of the wickets, Hellier.

The ball angled in then lifting and nipping away to take the glove of the batsman, followed by full length dive by the keeper Adam Bennett his right to pouch the ball just above the ground.

The Dormansland wickets continued to tumble and with the skies again looking ominous, Cuckfield looked to speed through the overs as quick as possible to try and secure the win.

With Sheldon having done most of the damage with his devastating spell of six overs, Dormansland were nine down and a bowling change was required seeing the introduction of Harriet Loveridge in her first game of the season.

The skies were turning black and Cuckfield were desperate to get the final wicket to secure the win. Accurate straight from the off, her third ball drew the bat forward who tried to soften the hands, but the ball popped up towards Sheldon at short cover who completed his man of the match performance with a forward diving catch to end the innings of Dormansland on 76.

The timing was perfect with the rain arriving minutes after the teams left the field.

Overall it was a fantastic team performance with the openers creating the foundation, and the fielding and bowling looking sharp with all catches being taken, especially by Adam Hatt, Ellis Buckeridge and Jull ensuring a well-deserved victory.

But the player of the day, despite the 100 from James Buckeridge, was Sheldon with 43 runs in a fantastic opening partnership, four wickets for 10 in has six over spell and two catches in the field – an awesome display from the youngster.