A Strange Willett Combination Make It 6 In A Row.
An all-round, man of match, performance from George Willett and a blistering spell with the ball from Dan Strange against East Grinstead 2nd XI made it 6 wins out of 6.
Skipper Joe Maskell won the toss for the 9th Time in 10 games this season and elected to bat, on what looked like a hard deck, despite it being an early 11am start. Opening pair Tom Trowbridge and Ben Hopkins looked to take advantage of the hard track, quick outfield and short boundaries. The experienced Lee Granger opened the bowling for East Grinstead and bowled a great length with plenty of plays and misses. Trowbridge was dropped at 1st before Granger eventually got his reward when Trowbridge (7) was caught behind. The leagues top run scorer Kevin Ramsey entered the field and straight away got into his stride, hitting some beautiful drives through cover. His Partner Hopkins was going well, some lusty blows down the ground being the highlight. Hopkins himself was dropped twice, once a first slip and at cover before East Grinstead captain Max Stow brought himself on to bowl. He had Hopkins (17) caught and bowled with his fourth delivery. Ian Simpson came to crease and looked to build a strong, long partnership with Ramsey. Simpson hit some cracking sweep shots for 4, as he and Ramsey took Hill to drinks at 63-2 from 17 overs. After drinks East Grinstead brought on the talented James Adkin who bowled aggressively. Simpson (14) was outdone by Adkin by cutting him to gully. Tom Penfold was next in, but his partnership with Ramsey didn’t last long, as Stow got his second victim, Ramsey (26) chipped a simple catch to Stow to claim another catch. Another two quick wickets fell, Stow took his third when he bowled the inform Penfold (10) before the returning Granger bowled Maskell (0) leaving Hill 77-5. Dan Strange and Lewis Mamoany needed to dig in and create a partnership, however after a shot through cover, Strange was magnificently caught at square leg for 5. Wicketkeeper Luke Vick and Mamoany decided that counter attacking was the best form of defence. Vick played some powerful shots round the ground, taking hill about 100 before he was adjudged LBW for 14. Mamoany batted sensibly for 16 before he was caught behind, giving Stow his fourth wicket. Hill were staring at well below par score when Peter Billinghay joined George Willett. The score read 133-9, with 20 overs remaining. Willett opened his arms, taking on the attack of both Stow and Ravi Cryer. He hit 7 quick fire fours around the ground, Billinghay hit two fours himself before Willett was eventually bowled for 37. A partnership of 43 for the last wicket was comfortably the highest with Willett top scoring. 176 all out.
Timings prior to start of the game were decided, we were going to play until 2.50 before a 2-hour break for the football. The clock read 2.20 when Hill were bowled out, meaning East Grinstead had a tricky half hour to negotiate. Its something they couldn’t quite do, despite James Adkin hitting Strange for 2 consecutive fours in first over, he chased a wide ball and was caught behind for 8. Strange picked up a second wicket before the break, he dismissed Matt Heppell, caught behind as well. East Grinstead were 12-2 after 9 overs at the tea break. After a refreshing break, which some enjoyed more than others, there was a real game on, Hill need 8 wickets in 44 overs, and East Grinstead required another 165 runs to win. The first ball after the break was very entertaining… Strange bowled, Granger cut a full toss straight into hands of Kevin Ramsey. Hill went off celebrating, before the umpires came together and decided it was a waist high no ball, not out the final call. However, in the all the confusion Hill opening batsmen Hopkins was screaming having pulled his calf celebrating the non-wicket!! They had to play with 10 fielders for the rest of the game. The next 22 overs were all about Burgess Hill and their opening bowlers. Strange took the next 2 wickets, one caught and bowled, the other caught by Penfold. Willett eventually got the rewards he deserved, he got Granger caught behind for 7, leaving East Grinstead 33-5. Strange picked up his 5th wicket by bowling Zach Riley (4) and picked up his 6th wicket when Rafe Liebers was caught behind for 6. The score read 52-7 and Hill were looking to pick up the final 3 wickets. Drinks were called when Captain Stow and Jay Ansley were batting. They had formed a decent partnership, but needed to bat for another 30 overs for a draw. Strange took a break, and Willett came back on down the hill. He bowled a destructive returning over, bowling Stow and Ravi Cryer in consecutive balls. It only took 2 balls of his next over to finally seal the win for Hill, another top ball bowling Ryan Trotter for 0. East Grinstead were 76 all out, and hill claimed 26 points from the game.
It was an exceptional bowling performance from Hill, Strange finishing with 6-49 from his 14 overs, and Willett 4-20 from his 10.2 overs. It leaves Hill 9 point clear of Second Placed Portslade, and they host Crawley Eagles next week at home.