Little Common Ramblers Cricket Club fell just short in the final of the InterSport Trophy on Saturday.
The Sussex League Division Five East runners-up were edged out by five wickets away to champions Hailsham.
After a late drop out on the morning of the game, the Ramblers side arrived at Hailsham short of any of their recognised front line seam bowlers.
On winning the toss, Ramblers captain Jon Meredith opted to bat first, and the team made a positive start through Tom Crathern and Tom Powell.
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Powell in particular was quick to latch on to any errant lengths from the Hailsham bowlers. Crathern fell for five after seeing off the opening spell from overseas player Varun Khullar and the league’s leading wicket-taker Andrew Anthony, but Ramblers suffered another blow when Meredith fell shortly after.
Alex Coombs joined Powell, who continued to play brilliantly on the counter-attack as he passed 50. Coombs himself began to score more freely as Ramblers looked to increase the run rate in the second half of the innings, but was trapped LBW by the opposition spinner for 25.
George Crathern came and went shortly afterwards, which brought Mike Chambers to the crease. Powell was dismissed for 62 trying to accelerate the score further, but at the other end Chambers displayed some fantastic shots as Ramblers looked to push the total as close to 200 as possible.
Tom Rose fell immediately after Powell, but Chris Meredith and Chambers forged a brilliant partnership. Both batsmen were scoring freely and finding the boundaries regularly, to the delight of the travelling Ramblers support as they moved towards a competitive score.
Chambers eventually fell for 38 and Meredith 34 before the innings closed with Little Common setting Hailsham 186 to win from 40 overs.
In the absence of any regular seamers, Jon Meredith had to be creative with the bowling options. It looked to have paid off when the spin of Tom Crathern took a wicket in the second over thanks to a superb diving catch from Coombs.
Tom Crathern added a second wicket, that of Scott Pearce, at the end of his spell, but the next breakthrough proved very tough to make, despite Jon Meredith experimenting with a variety of different options, including regular wicketkeeper Chris Meredith.
Ifti Ahmed eventually got the breakthrough, and Powell and Jon Meredith also took a wicket apiece, but Khullar continued to punish any errant bowling and won the game for Hailsham, ending on 60 not out to add to his brilliant contribution with the ball of 3-8 earlier in the game.
Missing a number of front line bowlers, it was a valiant effort from a Ramblers side which showed great character to come so close.
The team will look back on a brilliant season and look forward to playing in Division Four East next year, the highest level the club has ever operated at.