Bailey inspires Haywards Heath to near perfect result

Ollie Bailey was the star man for Haywards Heath
Ollie Bailey was the star man for Haywards Heath

Haywards Heath enjoyed a near perfect result on Saturday as they came away with a 30 points to two victory over Billinghurst, who had gone in to the weekend top of Division 2.

Billingshurst won the toss and invited Heath to bat first on a damp wicket.

Openers Jonny Young and Jethro Menzies applied themselves brilliantly to carve out a 50-run partnership before Ben Williams trapped Menzies lbw for 21.

Williams and Paul Osbourne bowled with great control through the middle overs of the innings and the pressure brought more wickets for Williams, first Max Barson was caught and bowled for 11 before an attempt by Jonny Phelps to hit Williams off his length found a man in the deep.

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It was clear by this stage that anything more than 150 was going to be a respectable total in the conditions, but when Jonny Young (34) was bowled by Williams Heath were still stuttering a bit on 79 for 4.

Chris Blunt hit a relatively quick 21 in partnership with Callum Smith as they took the score on to 115 before Blunt played a shot too many to gift Williams his fifth wicket.

The return of opening bowler Andy Barr brought an end to Smith (21) but Ollie Bailey and Tashaffi Shams put on a near run-a-ball 50 partnership to lift Heath to 174 for 6 by the end of 53 overs.

Shams (12*) did well to support Bailey who cleared the ropes regularly in the closing overs on his way to 41*. Williams who was the pick of the bowlers with 5 for 64 off 18.

At tea Heath were very confident of defending the target and when Ben Van Rensburg struck twice in the opening over Billingshurst were left with a mountain to climb. Louis Storey and Josh Wood steadied things with a 47-run partnership but the introduction of Ollie Bailey’s leg spin pushed the game forward at a pace.

The delivery that clean bowled Wood for 17 was something special and set the tone for what was to follow. Number 5 Scott Stratton played nicely for 25 but once he went to a good catch by Blunt here was no chance of a Billingshurst win.

The overs were ticking by, but Bailey was a constant threat as he bowled with great skill to rip through the Billingshurst line-up in a spell of 7 for 28 from 12.5 overs.

With 10 overs to go and two wickets still to get Van Rensburg was brought back in to the attack and removed Mortimer (9) to leave Andy Barr and Ben Williams to try and see the game through to a draw. Fittingly it was Bailey that wrapped up the game in the 43rd over to cap off a brilliant all-round performance.

The win closes things up at the top of the league and brings Heath right back into the mix.