Cuckfield reach T20 Cup final after relegation heartbreak
Cuckfield CC arrived to play their last Premier Division fixture of 2021 at newly-crowned champions Preston Nomads CC on an uncharacteristically warm day.
The surface looked to be a good one, and Cuckfield captain Ben Candfield won the toss and elected to bat.
Joe Cambridge (11) and Joe Ludlow (one) started watchfully before both fell within the first 10 overs.
As has often been the case this season, the middle order rebuilt in an attempt to take back control of the game with Ollie Graham and Nipun Karunanayake both playing nicely for 58 and 54 respectively.
Both fell, but some enterprising hitting from Harry Clark (61 off 61 balls) near the end lifted Cuckfield up to 223, slightly below par on what had been a good surface.
The visitors took the field looking to take early wickets. Nathan Poole (five) chipped tamely to mid-wicket off Joe White (2-29) and Will Rogers (2-25) found Jake Hutson’s (duck) edge and Adam O’Brien’s (duck) middle stump to leave Nomads 23-3.
Dan Phillips (five) and Bertie Foremen fell soon after, the latter having played nicely for 35 before Nick Patterson (1-7) trapped him lbw.
Cuckfield turned to spin to clean up the remaining Nomads batsmen with Karunanayake (3-16) and Josh Hayward (2-36) bowling Preston Nomads out for 114.
Unfortunately, it proved to be too little too late for Cuckfield as Hasting & St Leonards Priory’s victory consigned them to Division 2 cricket next season.
A day later, Cuckfield produced a performance of pugilistic resilience to overcome a well-organised Bognor Regis CC team in the T20 Cup semi-finals.
Winning the toss, Bognor elected to bat but never managed to establish momentum as some excellent catching, tight bowling and the odd injudicious shot characterised the innings.
Patterson grabbed 4-25, ably supported by Karunanayake (2-25) and Hayward (1-14) as Bognor mustered 112-7 from their allotted 20 overs with Gary Maskell top-scoring with 17.
Cuckfield’s response was measured. Some crisp stroke play from Cambridge (17) at the top of the order got things going for Cuckfield and Karunanayake (50), supported by Brad Gayler (15) and Graham (14), ensured a five-wicket victory for the home side with almost two overs to spare.
A final showdown with St Peter’s CC at The 1st Central County Ground, Hove awaits on September 19.
CUCKFIELD CC 2ND XI
Cuckfield CC 2nd XI entertained East Preston CC in the last game of the Division 4 West season.
Cuckfield’s captain, George Galbraith-Gibbons, won the toss and elected to bat first. Wickets fell in quick succession with East Preston opening bowlers, Mark Coskin (4-29) and Ryan De Gruchy (4-36), taking five wickets within the first 10 overs.
Dominic Sear (23) and Chris Taylor (26) steadied the ship and laid the platform for Josh Downey to play expressive, counter attacking shots.
After passing his 50, Downey kicked on and unleashed some quick boundary hitting to top-score with 80 while, ably supported by Sam Candfield (21), Cuckfield posted 185 all out off 44 overs.
In reply, East Preston started steadily before a quick fire two wickets from Candfield (2-38) made inroads into the batting order.
First change bowlers Downey (1-16) and Taylor (0-22) continued to keep the run scoring to a slow rate during the middle overs.
East Preston opening batsmen Gary Weedon posted his 50 off 116 balls in the 34th over then holed out to a good catch by Matt Slinger of the bowling of Henry Rogers (2-48).
The introduction of Slinger (3-21) into the bowling attack immediately proved fruitful with another two quick wickets.
A fantastic run out from Sammy Hart and good death bowling from Rogers sealed the win for Cuckfield with fine runs to spare, with East Preston bowled out for 180 in the last over.
The win cemented Cuckfield’s fourth place position at the end of the season
CUCKFIELD CC 3RD XI
On yet another overcast Saturday afternoon Cuckfield CC 3rd XI faced off against Hurstpierpoint CC in a battle for third place in Division 7 Central.
Stand-in captain Rodney Candfield won the toss for Cuckfield and decided to have a bat.
Hurstpierpoint's opening bowlers Lloyd Stevens (2-28) and Umair Chaudry (3-34) bowled a very tight opening spell on a pitch offering a bit of assistance to the new ball, with Chaudry removing both Cuckfield openers for single figures.
Bertie Sheldon (11) and Sam Shepherd (12) steadied the ship to take Cuckfield past 50 before both falling in quick succession to leave Cuckfield 61-4.
Josh Dolan (3-34) and Matt Parsons (1-14) bowled excellent spells in the middle overs to put the squeeze on as Cuckfield looked to rebuild their innings, before Caleb Hawkins (49) went through the gears only to fall agonisingly short of a half century to a stunning catch at deep mid-on from Dolan.
Useful lower order contributions from Piers Harrison (28), Joe Cotton (19) and Christopher Osborne (18) gave Cuckfield hope of reaching 200, only for Dolan to come back for the final over of his spell and finish off the innings with a hat-trick to leave Cuckfield all out for 192.
Cuckfield got off to a dream start with the ball as Osborne (2-24) picked up the wicket of Ted Bloomfield with the third ball of the innings with a perfect seamer's delivery which kissed the off stump.
A frustrating period for the bowlers followed as Myles Burrows (14) and Anthony Andrews (18) rode their luck with a series of edges not going to hand and balls just missing the stumps.
Burrows' luck eventually ran out as he chopped on off Osborne before Andrews was beaten for pace by a Theo Barker (1-38) yorker.
From then on it was all Hurstpierpoint, Alexander Bushell (88) and Ben Potter (36 not out) combined for a partnership of 112, with Bushell showing a mix of elegant cover drives and effortless power through the leg side as the pitch flattened out.
With the light fading and the game wrapped up, Bushell decided to try to finish the match in spectacular style only to hole out to Candfield off the bowling of Cotton (1-24), but Hurstpierpoint completed a six-wicket win the very next ball to take maximum points and wrap up third place.
CUCKFIELD CC 4TH XI
The last and final game of the season saw Cuckfield CC 4th XI take on Forest Row CC 2nd XI at their amazing ground, set in the Ashdown Forest.
Whilst beautiful, the satnav directions sent the majority of Cuckfield players down a scenic drive to the bottom of a hill so meant the game started several players down.
Luckily, Cuckfield had been put in to bat by a very fun and lively opposition captain. The batting order needed to be switched around a bit as players were still trying to find the ground, which meant the heavier hitters in Keith Rogers and Glenn Smith found themselves at the crease for the first over.
With the first six coming off the second over, an onslaught began as Smith and Rogers piled on the runs with some lusty blows before Rogers was superbly caught at deep mid-wicket by Charlie O’Hara for 38 off 35 balls leaving Cuckfield at 69-1 off 10 overs.
Smith (29) fell shortly after to a great in-cutter by Andrew Angelow Thilagarajan (5-14) and Adam Bennett was back in the changing room for a duck.
Adam Jull stepped up and settled the quick wicket losses with a very calm and mature innings of 55 before becoming another of Thilagarajan’s victims.
Cuckfield continued to add runs progressively with some cameos from Matt Power (28), Richard Loveridge (22) and Tim Power (15).
Cuckfield had put on 239-9 at the end of their 40 overs, with everyone getting a decent chance to bat.
George Ponsford (0-31) and Jamie Tuddenham (0-28) opened the bowling with some great pressure bowling which restricted the run rate for Forest Row. They were very unlucky to not pick up any wickets but had done the heavy lifting we needed.
The required run rate continued to climb despite Ranith De Silva (54), Merlin Styles-Weate (37), Thilagarajan (29) and Harry O’Hara (25) offering resistance.
Cuckfield replaced the opening pair with young spinners Matt Power (2-51) and Will Ward (1-41) and wickets started to fall.
Having done some damage, the veteran pair of Jull (2-22) and Tim Power (4-10) quickly ended the Forest Row resistance, bowling beautifully to threaten the stumps and the outside edge to see Cuckfield to victory.