Arriving at Whitemans Green we knew we were back for another seasons of Mid Sussex Division 2 cricket. Until arrival we were unaware that the pitch was artificial, so studs it was! Prev didn’t seem too worried however, managing to wait a whole 20 minutes before cracking open his first lager of the season. Nothing had changed…. Oh, apart from some we had some bloke called Jim Fuller playing for us?
Harvey James won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch that should theoretically play like a net. Clearly this was not the case for the opening partnership of Tom Black and Pete Newson. Young Tom was bowled for just 12 in the 8th over after taking a dirty sweep at a ball clearly going down leg side. Although Tom’s 12 runs were 12 more than what the HK resident South African Pete Newson managed to put together, as our Kolpak player failed to impress. Better next week please Pete….
As it turned out, the two early wickets wouldn’t matter, as Robbo and Alex Waters came in and formed a short, yet explosive partnership. Alex’s agricultural style helped him on his way to 55 from no more than 25 balls, which was only interrupted by a proper “village” moment, as a Yorkshire Terrier gave his owner the run around on the pitch for a good minute or two. After the brief pause in play, Alex went caught and bowled, and Harvey joined Robbo, who was still out there batting a textbook Tom Robinson test style innings.
To everyone’s surprise, Harvey was soon bowled for 11 despite it still being unclear what quite happened. HK veteran Dave Lancaster came in at six, and was simply buzzing to get out the house for the new season. Lancs, or Lance to some, made a quick fire 29 before having his leg stump taken out to a huge in swinger. Graham James came in, and was about to create my favourite moment of the season so far. However, first Robbo was out LBW after making a delicious 66. At number 8, the wild dog Mickey Tindall came in fresh off Sussex Vets duties, only to be caught minutes later. Jim Fuller arrived at the crease and looked pumped to recreate an Alex Waters style innings…
Only an over into the partnership, Grum had already suffered a near run out experience, clearly not reaching Jim’s expectations of his pace between the wickets. At this point Graham turned to me, as umpire, stating ‘I haven’t been run out by a Fuller for a few years, and I don’t want it to be today’. Now Jim, still on 0 after a couple of overs, nudged the ball to the leg side, gave the shout to Grum and attempted a quick single that even a Kevin Pitersen in his prime years would have fallen short on. Moments later, with Blair coming in at number 10, we would experience a de ja vu moment, where from Square Leg umpire I could see a sprinting Blair Jarvis fail to make the crease by at least 5 yards. This situation was only made more painful by everyone being treated to Jim missing out on four consecutive cut shots the previous over.
In came Prev to show everyone how village cricket batting is meant to look. With minimal foot movement, and a beer inside him, Prev hit a punchy drive straight over the bowler’s head for four, and then played the cut shot amounting to the same result. That glorious brace of fours from our specialist number 11 rewarded us with 10 bonus points for reaching 200, as HK finished on 205.
Burgess Hill’s innings was a shorter state of affairs as Harvey James used the artificial track to his advantage, applying plenty of pace and bounce. He reaped the rewards and took 4 wickets. At the other end Jim Fuller redeemed his batting escapades, using swing and pinpoint accuracy to also take 4 wickets. The last 2 wickets only needed an over each from Robbo and Tom Black to be mopped up, and bowl the opposition out for 103, securing us 30 points and leaving us top of the league one game in.