Mid Sussex Heathens record first-ever league win
A new cricket club in Warninglid, formed by a group of friends who wanted to play cricket together, recorded their first-ever Sussex Cricket League victory on Saturday
Mid Sussex Heathens CC was founded by George Barnes, Ryan John, Jamie Wilkes and Jack Earl and already have 23 players on their books.
The club were accepted into Division 11 Central (North) of the Sussex Cricket League at the start of the 2021 campaign.
Barnes said: “Last summer, myself and a few friends were sat watching a game of cricket and thought it would be good if we were able to form our own cricket team next summer and have the opportunity to play with our friends.
“We all played cricket from a young age, we love the sport and watch it regularly - why not have a knock ourselves?
“What started off as a light-hearted comment and a bit of a pipe dream, soon became reality!
“There are four of us who were initially involved: myself, George Barnes as chairman; Ryan John as captain; Jamie Wilkes as league representative; and lastly Jack Earl as the club welfare officer.
“We were then joined by Adam Galbraith as the club secretary and Joe Russel as social secretary and media manager and my mum, Adele Barnes, as treasurer.
"We are definitely surprised by the amount of players we have signed on.
"It started off as a couple of close friends and then word quickly spread, resulting in around 23 members who are keen to play regularly every week - so we were extremely surprised!"
The Heathens’ first league game of the season, at home to Smallfield Manor CC 2nd XI, was cancelled and their second game saw them beaten at Cuckfield CC 4th XI by seven wickets.
But, at just the third time of asking, the Heathens picked up their first league victory, and in some style too.
The Heathens hosted Felbridge & Sunnyside CC 3rd XI and were asked to bat.
Superb knocks from Joe Russell (93) and wicketkeeper William Glenn (54 off 31 balls) powered the hosts to 266-6 off their allotted 40 overs.
Blistering bowling from Russell (4-14), Wilkes (2-10) and Dominic Smith (2-23) helped the Heathens skittle the visitors for just 57 in 21 overs to secure a convincing 209-run victory.
George’s dad Michael, who also sponsors the team, added: “I am extremely proud, to see all their hard work come to fruition and see them play their first match was a wonderful moment.
“To have the opportunity to sponsor this new club and see my company’s name on their shirts was the icing on the cake.
“I think what they have achieved, especially during this unsettling year, is brilliant.”
Barnes predicted that the Heathens would provide a significant boost to the area.
He said: "The season has just started and we believe that our club is going to bring a lot of local business to Warninglid through supporters and players who will be there, especially at the local pub!
"On our first game we noticed how many local residents were around the ground watching - obviously, it has been a year of uncertainty so to see everyone out and having a good time was amazing and to see this continue each game would bring the community together again.
"A couple of the residents were quite taken back yet pleasantly surprised at how young the team was.
"We are hoping this could encourage other young local residents to join in with the cricket, whether it be taking part playing in the future or enjoying watching and having a drink with us all after."
Barnes also foresaw a bright future for the club. The Heathens founder hoped to see the club climb the divisions and field a couple more teams.
He added: "Going on from the amount of players we have signed up, even within the next couple of years we are looking to get a second team created.
"We have had a lot of interest from players who haven’t signed up, who want to sign up next season as currently there is limited space being only one side.
"The idea of the club wasn’t necessary to be successful, but to bring friends together, have a good laugh and good social and of course playing the sport which we all love on a Saturday.
"It definitely started off being more for fun but as the games have gone on, no one can resist that urge to win - the competitive nature of the lads is really nice to see.
"We are hoping to win the league whether it be this season, the next, or the one after and hopefully in due course we can see ourselves climbing up the divisions.
"We started in Division 11 and hopefully in the next five years we see ourselves go up one or two divisions and have a couple of teams."