Former England and Sussex hero can't stop Horsham from claiming crucial win
On Saturday Horsham CC had a must-win game – with the season coming to an end they welcomed St James’s Montefiore CC to Cricketfield Road with two promotion places up for grabs and the visitors breathing down Horsham’s neck for elevation into the Premier Division.
And, despite a superb cameo from a former England star, Horsham pulled off a comprehensive victory to remain in second spot with 330 points, crucially opening up a 32 gap over St James’s.
In the rain-shortened game Horsham were put in to bat and got off to a positive start with a 52-run opening stand, but had a wobble after a rain interruption reduced the game to 35 overs a side, and, after Tom Johnson had been dismissed for a brisk 72, they were 145-7 with the outcome in the balance.
But, Sam Attfield and Sam Martin-Jenkins weighed in with twenties, including a very profitable final over, to enable Horsham to set a demanding 203 run target.
Both St James’s openers went cheaply against the lively bowling of Martin-Jenkins and James Brehaut, bringing England favourite Matt Prior to the crease, to entertain the crown with a brisk 41.
But, once he had fallen to Joe Willis’ smart catch behind the stumps off Ben Williams, St James’s had little more to offer, falling more and more behind the clock, ahead of sliding to 130 all out, with Nick Oxley taking 3-22.
Earlier, Brehaut and Nick Cooper had each taken two wickets, featuring a superb overhead running catch from skipper Michael Thornely, and a diving grab in the gully by Oxley.
A full scorecard from the game can be found here.
Post-match Thornely told the County Times: “Tom Johnson gave us another great start with the bat, but after that we crumbled, until the excellent finish off our last over, shifting the momentum by taking us past the 200 barrier.
"There was turn and bounce in the wicket, but to beat them so comprehensively with Prior in their side makes me very proud – everybody contributed in this vital game for us.”
Prior played with distinction in 157 matches for England across all formats, and many times for Sussex, amassing over 25,000 runs and snaring almost 1,300 victims behind the stumps.
Although it was six years since Prior last played, he exuded class, batting with so much time, saying: “I want to see St James’s go up, so I was pleased to play – and it was good to get a couple out of the middle, until I got out to a great catch.
"I’ve got three young sons, who never saw me play professionally. Will I play again? We’ll see – I’ve got a sports business to run!”
This Saturday Horsham take the short trip up the Crawley Road to take on doomed bottom-of-the-table Roffey CC 2nd XI, Bognor Regis CC staying top with 353 points.
Meanwhile, with two matches still to be decided, in the tightly bunched remainder of the relegation zone, Billingshurst CC, Lindfield CC and Preston Nomads CC 2nd XI are struggling to survive.