The final league games in the West Sussex Cricket League were played last Saturday and despite an iffy end to August with the weather, the majority of games were thankfully completed.
In Division One, St Andrews’ relegation back to Division Two after just one season was confirmed with a narrow defeat at the other promoted side from last season, Ram.
Once their talisman Hayden James was dismissed for 55, the boys from Burgess Hill were skittled for just 128. However Saints knew that Ram’s batting always gives the opposition a chance and so it proved with the Crawley boys sneaking home by just one wicket. Ram finished fifth. East Preston who could still have gone down had they not picked up any points bowled out relegated Clymping cheaply to achieve ten bowling points to secure safety and then got the runs for the loss of five wickets. EP ended up finishing third in a congested table on the same amount of points as second placed Arundel who had completed their fixtures.
Littlehampton who finished seventh achieved a winning draw at home to Felbridge finishing sixth. West Chilt finishing fourth were hammered at champions Southwater. Southwater will take great encouragement from last season’s champions Portslade who were promoted this year from County Four into County Three.
It looks as though Crawley will be relegated from County Four into West Sussex One barring miracles on the final day this Saturday. Champions Steyning visit Southgate whilst nearest rivals Hellingly (who are in East Sussex anyway) travel to Keymer. Lewes Priory have already been relegated to East Sussex One.
In West Sussex Division Two, Broadwater and Horsham Trinity were promoted last week but with Broadwater finishing last Saturday, Trinity took the chance to grab the title last Saturday with a four wicket win at mid table Scaynes Hill.
As with many other games this weekend, the bowlers set victory up knocking over the Mid Sussex side out for just 125 before the batsmen took them home. At the bottom, a relieved Storrington (who won the first ever Invitation League title back in 1979) escaped relegation with victory at Maidenbower against relegated Three Bridges 3s. Bridges mustered just 95-6 off 43 overs before the Swans lost five wickets getting the runs. That result meant that Selsey were relegated for the second consecutive season with defeat at third placed Broadbridge Heath.
Heath made 160-8 off their 49 overs with captain Andy Skates making a half century and Lucas Birrell-Gray making a valuable 35. Lucas then took his first five-fer for the club and veteran Fred Bridges took 3-24 as the Crabs were rolled over for 123.
In Division Three, Eastergate and Aldwick had been promoted the previous weekend so again the focus was at the bottom. Worthing 3s were relegated after going down to an eight wicket defeat at Brighton & Hove 3s and Barns Green’s fate was sealed earlier in the day when their game against Crawley Nayee was cancelled due to unfit playing conditions. In Division Four, West Wittering are joined in Division Three next season by Horsham 3s who won the winner-takes-all game at home to their nearest rivals Findon 3s. Batting first on the John Dew Ground and going into the game in second place, the (Horsham) Lions made a strong 241-6 off their 49 overs - Matthew Butterworth falling six short of a century. Gavin Daisley and Omar Khot then took three wickets each as the (Findon) Horses were bowled out more than 100 behind. At the start of play, five sides were in danger of joining Arundel 2s in Division Five and in the end, it was both Felbridge 2s and St Matthias who drew at the Chartham Ground who were relegated. Partridge Green beat Arundel 2s and West Chilt 2s beat Southwater 2s with four balls remaining thanks mainly to Jake Hodgson’s career best 6-33.
Summing up their season, West Chilt’s Club Captain, Timothy Monday said: “Both our 2s and 3s were extremely relieved to avoid the drop and preserve our proud record of never having been relegated as a merged club. Remarkably, the 3s won their last five games to escape by a single point. What this doesn’t hide is the fact that we have a large player database with not much availability each week and the committee will be working hard so that we are ready to go again in May next year. Also the league structure in the West Sussex League does seem to be sorting itself out at last and like other clubs, we may have found our level in that structure now.”
Division Five - Promoted: Crawley Eagles 3s, Lancing Manor & Ram 2s; Relegated - Littlehampton 2s, Scaynes Hill 2s & Ifield 3s.
Division Six - Promoted: RMU, Three Bridges 4s & Chippingdale 2s; Relegated: Eastergate 2s, East Preston 2s and PK UK.
Division Seven: Promoted: Brighton & Hove 4s, Broadbridge Heath 2s & Aldwick 2s; Relegated: Rustington 2s, Goring 3s & Barns Green 2s.
Division Eight: Promoted: Portslade 3s, Worthing 4s & Horsham Trinity 3s; Relegated: Broadwater 2s, St Andrews 3s & Arundel 3s.
Division Nine: Promoted: Littlehampton 3s, Middleton Academy & West Witetring 2s; Relegated: Three Bridges & Chichester 4s.
Division Ten: Promoted: Horsham 4s, Scaynes Hill 3s & Ifield 4s