Bexhill beaten by title hopefuls

Dean Crawford bowling for Bexhill against Roffey at The Polegrove on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-140816-232508002)

Dean Crawford bowling for Bexhill against Roffey at The Polegrove on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-140816-232508002)

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Bexhill Cricket Club’s run of back-to-back victories was ended by title chasing opposition on Saturday.

Bexhill went down by 73 runs at home to a Roffey side which is just seven points behind Sussex Premier League leaders Preston Nomads with a game in hand.

After winning the toss and electing to field, Bexhill bowled Roffey out for 173 in 54.4 overs. Dean Crawford made an early breakthrough by bowling Theodore Rivers for six with the score just eight.

Roffey then put together the highest partnership of the match with a second wicket stand of 40, which ended when Joe Cox flattened the off stump of away captain Josh Fleming (17) in his first over.

Ashar Zaidi was by now into the attack and giving little away from the sea end, and it was he who struck next by trapping key man Rohit Jagota LBW for 12 with the score 71. That soon became 79-4 after Cox struck again, bowling Mike Norris for 32.

Although Zaidi bowled Chris Webb for 16 to leave Roffey 100-5, a couple of useful partnerships involving Kuldeep Rawat helped get the visitors up towards a total they were comfortably able to defend.

Rawat put on 36 for the sixth wicket with Usman Khan - who was bowled by Josh Beeslee for 12 - and then 32 for the seventh wicket with Matt Davies, who was bowled by Liam Bryant for 20 off 23 balls.

Bexhill polished the Roffey innings off pretty quickly thereafter with the final four wickets falling for just five runs, including that of Rawat for a game-high 39.

Zaidi finished with 4-40 off 20.4 overs, Bryant 2-3 off three and Cox 2-39 off eight, while Crawford conceded just 17 runs from his eight overs and Shawn Johnson’s 11 overs went for only 28.

Bexhill lost their first wicket in reply with the score just six, Tim Hambridge - returning to the side after several weeks out with a hand injury - being caught behind off Rawat.

The in-form Johnson brothers started to compile another partnership until Malcolm Johnson was trapped LBW by Leigh Harrison for 14. The influential Zaidi was then caught behind first ball and 34-1 quickly became 54-7 with the victims including Shawn Johnson for 13.

Johnathan Haffenden and Bryant matched the best stand of the innings by adding 28 for the eighth wicket only for both batsmen to fall within four runs of each other, firstly Bryant for 14 and then Haffenden for 29.

Beeslee and Cox at least ensured Bexhill scraped into three figures by putting on 14 for the final wicket before the hosts were bowled out for exactly 100 in 36 overs. Harrison took 5-39, Daniel Smith 3-10 and Rawat 2-41.

Standings (played 16 matches unless stated): 1 Preston Nomads 318pts, 2 East Grinstead 311, 3 Roffey (15) 311, 4 Eastbourne 279, 5 Horsham 258, 6 Brighton & Hove 236, 7 BEXHILL 224, 8 Cuckfield 221, 9 Three Bridges 172, 10 HASTINGS PRIORY 156.