Sussex all-rounder Ashar Zaidi made a significant impact on his debut for Bexhill Cricket Club yesterday (Saturday).
The 32-year-old blasted a rapid unbeaten half-century with the bat and took three wickets with the ball as Bexhill had the better of a draw away to Eastbourne in the Sussex Cricket League Premier Division.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Bexhill totalled 247-9 from 56 overs. The visitors got off to a brilliant start with an opening partnership of 132 between Tim Hambridge and Malcolm Johnson which eventually ended when Hambridge was bowled for exactly 50 - his second half-century against Eastbourne in 2014.
Bexhill captain Johnson departed 16 runs later for a game-high 75 off 122 balls featuring 10 boundaries. Zaidi then came to the crease and promptly cracked 69 not out from just 43 balls with eight fours and three sixes.
Wickets fell at frequent intervals around Zaidi, though, as none of Bexhill’s other batsmen reached double figures. Three of them were run out, while David Twine was the most successful Eastbourne bowler with 4-66 from 17 overs. Zayne Hartley took 2-56.
Eastbourne never looked like threatening Bexhill’s total in reply, closing on 161-5 from 54 overs. Joe Cox made the initial breakthrough for Bexhill by trapping Eastbourne captain Mark Tomsett LBW for 11 with the score 20.
It was 57-2 when Zaidi bowled Luke Gallichan (14) and two more Zaidi wickets within seven runs of each other, including that of Dan Wells for 26 off 91 balls, left Eastbourne 87-4. That became 107-5 when Jamie Bristow-Diamond got rid of Sussex professional Callum Jackson for 27.
There was no further joy for Bexhill, though, as Jonathan Phelps (35 not out) and Luke Tomsett (20 not out) shared an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 54. Zaidi took 3-27 off 14 overs, while Bristow-Diamond’s nine overs went for just 15 runs.
Sussex Premier League standings (played four matches unless stated): 1 Cuckfield (5) 89pts, 2 Roffey 87, 3 East Grinstead 80, 4 Horsham 76, 5 Three Bridges (5) 70, 6 Preston Nomads 52, 7 Brighton & Hove (5) 43, 8 Eastbourne 41, 9 HASTINGS PRIORY 34, 10 BEXHILL 28.