Williams to challenge batsmen after Billingshurst suffer maiden defeat

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A maiden defeat of the campaign saw Billingshurst slip from the summit of Division 2 in an early top-of-the-table clash.

Third-placed St James’ were the visitors at Jubilee Fields and recorded a 29-run success to leapfrog both their hosts and previously second-placed Hastings in the standings.

It was a first defeat in five games for Hurst and meant they slipped to second, two points behind the new leaders St James’.

It looked as though it wasn’t going to be the visitors’ day early on after they won the toss and opted to bat. Ben Mortimer (3-20) did the damage as only opener Harry Rollings (23) made any runs from the opening four batsmen.

St James’ toiled at 14-3 and 59-4, before Rollings (94*) set about a rescue job in the middle order and boosted them to 95-6 and then 202-8 in their 45 overs.

In reply, openers Louis Storey (18) and Jordan Willoughby (16) made starts before both were dismissed with the score on 53-3.

A stand-out innings of 69 from Scott Stratton took them to 143-7 when he was dismissed and only Josh Wood (38) then contributed as they closed with 173 in 43.5 overs.

Billingshurst captain Ben Williams said: “We got ourselves into a good position, but Jordan Rollings batted really well. We had a couple of chances at him, but fair play to him.

“We bowled quite well and fielded quite well. With the bat, maybe we had a few bad shot selections. Credit to Scott Stratton, he batted really well. Josh Wood got injured while keeping and had to bat lower down with a bad back which didn’t help.

“We definitely could have won the game. Jordan hit 40 off the last three overs, if maybe we kept that down, we would have been well in the game. I think I’ll challenge our batsman in the coming weeks to push those starts and turn them into big scores like Scott.”

Although the result ends, ‘Hurst’s dominant start, Williams remained upbeat and added: “We have come away with 11 points, so it is not the worst loss. It’s not panic stations at all.”