Brilliant Battle knock leaders off their perch

Ben Newman guided Battle to victory against Ditchling with an unbeaten half-century.
Ben Newman guided Battle to victory against Ditchling with an unbeaten half-century.

Battle Cricket Club’s first team gained its first win of the season against the side which went into Saturday’s game top of the table.

Battle triumphed by six wickets at home to Ditchling and although they remain bottom of Sussex Cricket League Division Five East, Battle are now only eight points outside the top seven.

It transpired that a team wedding had severely weakened the visitors’ side, and when home captain Guy Ballard won the toss and chose to field, Battle sensed weakness.

While Ditchling were reduced in batting, Ian Poysden and Mike Nolan have clocked up many a run against Battle in recent years, and getting wickets would still prove key.

After conceding nine from his first four balls, Curtis Coombes bowled five consecutive overs without a run from the bat and Ben Newman bowled with control too, which stifled the start to the Ditchling innings.

Coombes also picked up an LBW and with the score 36-1 off 14 overs, Battle weren’t too disappointed with things, but further wickets were still required.

With his back in better shape, Ballard was the man to do it, getting the dangerous Poysden (9), also LBW, with a ball which nipped back in.

Nolan, so many times a thorn in Battle’s side, and Ben Sippy, playing a cautious opening innings, looked capable of building a long partnership and began to use their scoring shots more frequently.

With Battle’s bowlers beginning to look out of ideas, a superb diving stop, gather and direct hit from the ever-agile Ballard at wide mid-off saw Sippy run out by half a dozen yards.

Shortly after drinks, Battle had the chance to effectively wrap the game up, but both Nolan and Ben Actland (on 0) were dropped and nerves began to grip the hosts. Battle bowled a little short and the batting pair added 50 runs in little more than 50 balls.

With the score passing 100, it was time for Ballard’s second piece of fielding brilliance, somehow reacting to a blistering straight drive from Nolan (30) and catching the ball in front of his face off his own bowling.

With Nolan gone, wickets fell at regular intervals as Dave Baldock (3-40) and the returning Coombes (3-38) ran through the lower order. Actland (31), Douglas Porter (15) and Tom Carr (23) all made useful contributions, but the Ditchling total of 176 all out looked a little short.

Kieran Mayhew, playing his first Battle game of the season, was sent out to open the run chase and approached things with a rather gung-ho attitude until being superbly caught on the third man boundary.

Signs were positive for Battle, however, as the Ditchling bowlers lacked some of their usual cutting edge. Newman went on the attack, deploying powerful drives and savage cuts through the off side on a regular basis.

The 50 partnership was reached in nine overs before Jo Carthew (25) pushed Nolan’s very first delivery, a full toss, to midwicket. And when Coombes (12) also fell to Nolan to leave the score 95-3, the game had the potential to go either way.

Newman had other ideas, cruising past 50 in only 41 balls, including a run of five fours in six balls faced. Colin Driscoll (29) also looked in fine form and although he fell with the score on 142, the hobbling Jim Philcox (12 not out) accompanied Newman (75 not out) to victory.

Battle will hope to rise up the league after the trip to Fletching tomorrow (Saturday).

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