Billingshurst move second but skip is cautious on promotion

Stuart Barber (left) and Dhanushka Mitipolaarachchi (right) hit the winning runs for Billingshurst in sunny conditions down at Going. Picture Derek Martin
Stuart Barber (left) and Dhanushka Mitipolaarachchi (right) hit the winning runs for Billingshurst in sunny conditions down at Going. Picture Derek Martin
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In-form Billingshurst are up to second in Division Two after a comfortable victory down at Goring-By-Sea on Saturday.

‘Hurst skipper Ben Williams hailed a “great all-round team performance” as all his bowlers took wickets before opener Stuart Barber’s unbeaten half century helped chase down a modest sub 130 target.

“Everybody contributed, and although Stuart again really impressed it was all about a great team performance,” Williams beamed. “We couldn’t believe it when they won the toss and chose to bat, there were two big wet patches on the pitch so we were very happy bowling.”

The visitors’ main strike bowler Andy Barr took a wicket in the first over - a short ball which accounted for Alex Maynard - and it set the tone for the rest of the innings.

“That’s about the fourth time he’s got a wicket in the first over this season, when you strike that early all the pressure shifts to the opposition. Andy’s improved so much and gets better each week and it’s all down to his commitment,” Williams (1-13) said of Barr, who finished with 2-23.

Fellow opening bowler Kelly Russell (1-19) was his usual consistent self, and Dhanushka Mitipolaarachchi, Jon Alexander and David Dunn all chipped in with two wickets apiece. Only Goring opener Sam Thorns put up resistance and he was the last batsman to depart having made a gritty 69 from 143 balls as the hosts were out for 125 in 50.1 overs.

‘Hurst wicketkeeper Richard Bown took three good catches behind the stumps

Young opening batsman Barber is growing in confidence every week and he again carried his bat for an assured 66 from 53 balls.

“Stuart got us off to a really positive start, he’s a great guy to have in the team,” Williams praised. “Even when things weren’t going his way early on he always got behind the guys and now he’s looking top class. That’s two weeks now he’s batted through the innings for us and I’m sure both times he would have got a big score if we had been chasing more.”

Though fellow opener Scott Stratton departed early and Mike Burroughs fell to an LBW decision which Williams said was “unlucky”, Mitipolaarachchi provided the partner Barber needed.

The classy Sri Lankan player struck an unbeaten 43 from 28 balls as Billingshurst cruised home to an eight-wicket win in just 20.2 overs.

Having been promoted only last year, skipper Williams is naturally cautious about Billingshurst’s chances of reaching the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history. He said: “It just shows the club is in a really good place in all areas. If we win our next two games then maybe we’ll start talking about it (promotion).”

This Sunday Billingshurst will play in front of 5,000 people when they take on Blagdon Cricket Club at their Surrey home. The game is part of Barbados Day and is the warm up before a Barbados team take on a talented Australian side in front of a big crowd.