Cuckfield 1st XI beat Preston Nomads by 34 runs at Fulking on Saturday. On a glorious late spring afternoon league leaders Cuckfield travelled to the Spen Cama Memorial Ground.
Cuckfield had never managed a win there in the SPCL but winning the toss was a good start as batting first on a good bouncy deck was an easy decision.
Steffan Piolet and Greg Wisdom started confidently and scored at a healthy lick - two sixes from Piolet showcased his class. Wisdom (14) fell with the score on 76 having played a solid part in the opening partnership and, unfortunately for Cuckfield, Cummins was adjudged LBW the very next ball to halt the progress of the Cuckfield innings. Piolet (65) then fell shortly after looking to take the game away from Nomads he scuffed a lofted drive to mid-on off the bowling of Rigg. Chris Mole then dragged one back on from a foot outside his off-stump which forced Cuckfield to rebuild at 107-4. Thanks to the stellar start given by their openers Cuckfield could afford to sit in and consolidate, which is exactly what Tom Mole (29) and Harry Clark (41*) did. Despite the good batting surface, runs were actually quite hard to come by as the large outfield was quite slow and the pitch offered plenty of movement and bounce. Tom Mole nudged and nurdled well until he edged a Carl Simon off-cutter, Mole walked off with a nod of acknowledgement to Carl for his 500th league wicket in his 11 seasons at Nomads – take a bow Carl.
The story of the rest of the innings was one of quick fire dismissals by Faith (4-44) and Simon (3-54) and one critical partnership between Clark and Patterson (24) worth 44 runs. The innings ebbed and flowed, but this partnership was the difference between a below par score and a competitive score of 195 all out. Both batsmen looked in fine fettle which augurs well for the season.
As with the first innings, Cuckfield stamped their authority at the beginning of the second innings, led again by Steff Piolet – he didn’t get his rewards though as catches went down off his bowling, but at least a smart run out by Browning spared the guilty Cuckfield players’ blushes!
Cuckfield’s Browning was firing down some pacey away swingers to complement Piolet’s box of tricks, both generating a lot of movement in the air. This movement created many chances, too many to evade, and the wickets started to tumble, sending Nomads reeling at 87-7. Nomads have not, however, won the title umpteen times before without batting deep and having fight. It was Faith (44*) and Simon (30) who stepped up for Nomads this time round as they struck 71 in 19 overs and looked on the verge of breaking Cuckfield’s hold on the game. All three results were in the balance as the pitch was still offering movement and the ball was still swinging and time was running out. The new Cuckfield skipper Josh Hayward bowled a beguiling spell of left-arm orthodox spin with a display of remarkable control of variation in pace, spin and drift – his 17-6-40-3 did the lion’s share of damage in the early part of Nomads’ innings and this was initially supported by and then completed by Patterson’s 14.4-3-43-4. Simon and Faith were seeing it well and striking it cleanly down the ground but Patterson’s discipline in line and length made scoring risky and difficult and ultimately this pressure told. Simon holed out off Patterson to a fine high catch by Clark, and then the final two wickets fell giving Cuckfield a stunning victory.
Cuckfield entertain 2014 Premier League Champions, Roffey, on Saturday.