Haywards Heath started their 2019 season with the long trip to sunny Bognor and were soon searching through bags for spare layers once the formalities of team photos were done.
Heath lost the toss and were inserted on a wicket which looked like it may be tricky for batting. Bognor impressed early with consistent bowling and some sharp in-fielding making scoring difficult.
Heath found themselves in trouble at 25-2 and it was clear this was not going to be a high scoring affair. Heath attempted to rebuild through the mature beyond his years Ben Matthew and skipper Callum Smith.
After reaching 60-2 through the 20 over mark Heath then lost another couple of quick wickets to be 60-4 at which point Ollie Bailey joined Matthew and the pair looked to push the total up over 100. Matthew departed for a super knock of 59 whilst trying to up the ante with around 10 overs to go, and Bailey who had settled in well was joined by new signing Jonny Young.
The pair pushed Heath up to a very competitive 167 for 5 off the allotted 45 overs after some great late hitting, particularly from Bailey, who finished 48 not out and put Heath in a strong position. The pick of the Bognor bowlers was Scott Bingham with 3-35, but all the home bowlers were economical and the fielding throughout must be commended.
After the tea break Heath looked to make early inroads and got the big scalp of Ryan Maskell in the 6th over through the bowling of David Everett, but the runs were flowing and Bognor reached 40-1 through the first 10.
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Jethro Menzies was introduced and immediately struck but had to be withdrawn from the attack through injury which was a blow for the Heath. At 60-2 off 20 Bognor looked well set but the spin of Smith and Jonny Phelps really squeezed the middle overs and Heath were able to gain some control, also picking up wickets at regular intervals.
Smith finished with 3-24 from his 9 and Phelps, who also bowled with great control, returned figures of 1/19 off 9.
With 10 overs to go Bognor needed 60 to win and still fancied their chances. Jim Fallick scored freely on his way to 36 before he and the tail were blown away by the return of opening bowler Ben Van Rensburg who repeatedly sent stumps flying as he ended the game in fine style to finish with figures of 3-26 from 7. Bognor were all out for 132 so Heath picked up the full 30 points.
The game was played in great spirits and both teams shared beers in the dressing rooms after the game. Heath host St James next week at Clair Park looking to continue the good start.