Damp opening weekend of cricket expected

HOR 040807 Roffey cricket. DM
HOR 040807 Roffey cricket. DM

NEAR NEIGHBOURS Horsham and Billingshurst are due to face off in the first round of the National Knock-Out Cup this Sunday as the new cricket season gets under way.

Roffey are also in action in the competition they excelled in last season when they travel to newly relegated Three Bridges.

Today (Saturday) is also due to mark the start of the Invitation Cricket League, though the persistent downpours all week have left cricket grounds around the county drenched, leaving action of any kind in doubt.

Horsham skipper Craig Gallagher admitted on Thursday their game against Hurst was already in doubt. He said: “We are due to play Worthing in a friendly on Saturday and Billingshurst in the cup the next day but both games already look very unlikely to go ahead.

“The covers have been on for the last seven or eight days so the groundsmen haven’t even been able to mark out the pitch and there’s a lot of water on the outfield.”

If the Sunday match does go ahead Horsham have leg spinner Will Beer available as well as opening bowler James Johnson, back from university. John Burroughs won’t be available to face his old club as he is playing hockey, and wicketkeeper Sam Bell and Sam Cushing are both away.

Billingshurst, two divisions below, always relish pitting their wits against their local rivals and enjoyed cup success against Sussex Premier opposition with wins over Three Bridges and Roffey last season.

Roffey enjoyed a fabulous run in the KO Cup last year, reaching the last 16 in the country in what was a memorable debut season in the Premier Division.

And they will be eyeing a similar run this year, but first will have to overcome a youthful Bridges side who are looking to rebuild following relegation to Division 2.

In the Invitation League Southwater begin at Selsey in Division 1, while in Division 2 newly promoted pair West Chiltington and Storrington host Chippingdale and RAM respectively.

In Division 3 Broadbridge Heath go to Worthing III, and Partridge Green host Ifield III in Division 4.