Haywards Heath having challenging but enjoyable season
The Premier Division has been a challenging but enjoyable experience for Haywards Heath CC so far for captain Callum Smith.
Smith’s charges have so far recorded one win, four losses and a draw in their first season in the division.
Saturday’s draw at Hastings & St Leonards Priory CC saw Haywards Heath cut the gap between them and Mid Sussex neighbours Cuckfield CC, who hover one place above the relegation zone, to 19 points.
Smith admitted that Heath happy with their current league position but recent league performances suggested that the taste of success may be coming into reach.
The Haywards Heath captain said: “On the whole we are disappointed to be where we are so far this season.
“We have had spells in games and we could have won two or three but we just haven’t won key moments.
“The Premier Division is certainly a step up but we are enjoying it and also learning at the same time.
“We are competing in each game so that’s gives us confidence that a win or two is around the corner if we can improve in certain areas.”
Heath hung on for a draw at Hastings in the battle of the Premier Division’s bottom two last weekend.
Hastings, electing to bat, were reduced to 46-2 after a good opening spell from Jethro Menzies (2-26).
But a superb 103 from former Sussex star Harry Finch brought the hosts roaring back.
Finch and Dilshan De Zoysa (63) pummelled 129-run for the third wicket before Finch’s excellent innings was ended by Jonny Phelps (2-26). De Zoysa’s knock was ended by Ollie Bailey (2-62) with the score at 196-5.
Cameos from Harry Scowen (15) and John Morgan (23) helped Hastings’ finish 250-8dec off their allotted 55 overs.
Heath’s reply saw Max Barson (five) fall early but wicketkeeper Henry Sims (seven) and Menzies (52) added 49 for the second wicket.
Menzies’ knock was ended by the irrepressible Jed O’Brien (4-83) before Jonny Phelps was soon taken lbw by the deadly De Zoysa (4-42). De Zoysa then struck again to see Heath struggling at 97-5.
But a captain’s innings from Smith (43), aided by Bailey (39), saw Heath add 71 for the sixth wicket.
Smith and Bailey eventually both succumbed to De Zoysa in quick succession with the score at 184-7.
But Jonathan Young’s 36 helped steer Heath away from defeat. He was taken by O’Brien with the final ball of the day to see Heath finish 224-9 off their 55 overs to take a share of the points.
Smith said: “It was competitive game at Hastings. They looked like getting 300 plus so we were very happy at half-time to be chasing 250 on a good wicket.
“We looked in pole position to chase two or three times but lost wickets at key times so ended up having to shut up shop at the end.”
Heath will have to overcome tough opponents on Saturday if they are to record their second league win of the 2021 season.
Smith’s side welcome top-of-the-table Preston Nomads CC to Clair Park this weekend.
Nomads hit the summit after a convincing 183-run home win over Premier Division title-holders, and last week’s league leaders, Roffey CC.
Smith has predicted that Saturday’s clash with Nomads will be a stern test of Haywards Heath’s Premier Division credentials.
But the Heath skipper backed his players to step up to the plate and show their mettle.
He added: “This week we’re at home to Nomads which will be a tough test.
“They obviously have some quality players in good form but I hope some of our lads step up and show what we can do.”