Bexhill coach savours stunning display

Sam Roberts said he was '˜overjoyed' after his best day in a Bexhill Cricket Club shirt.

Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:30 pm
Sam Roberts bowling for Bexhill against Billingshurst. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160907-222831002)

Bexhill’s coach scored 115 with the bat and took seven wickets with the ball in Saturday’s 56-run win at home to Billingshurst.

“It turns out it was my best batting performance and best bowling performance (for Bexhill),” said Roberts, who enjoyed two highly successful seasons with the club in 1998 and 2002. “I was overjoyed, it was great fun.”

Club captain Johnathan Haffenden said it was the best individual display he’d ever seen from any Bexhill player.

“I think you’re going to struggle to top it,” said Haffenden. “It’s top class isn’t it. When it’s your day, it’s your day and he cashed in massively.

“It’s probably a good lesson for any all-rounder: when you’re in that situation, make the most of it. We always say ‘if you get in, don’t let someone else score your runs or take your wickets’ and he’s done exactly what he’s been preaching.”

Roberts initially came over from Texas for the summer as club coach, but a month ago the club decided to field Roberts as its overseas player and drop Aidan Brooker to the seconds.

The decision has been thoroughly vindicated as Roberts has now taken 21 wickets in four completed Sussex Premier League matches at an amazing average of 5.95.

“The intention was that I would only play the first game until Aidan arrived, but I knew I was in a position where I could contribute if called upon,” he said.

“The first team wasn’t travelling as well as we could and probably should, and I think a lot of that was down to a bit of experience and leadership.

“Our boys have more than enough talent, and talent is hard to ascertain, but anyone can apply themselves and concentrate. It gives me a chance to demonstrate to these guys what’s required because I’ve been fortunate enough to play at a slightly higher level.”

The 42-year-old Roberts has delivered such remarkable form despite not having played cricket for a couple of years since moving from his native Australia to the United States.

“In some respects that’s not a bad thing,” he continued. “I’ve always been confident in my ability and even when I played in Australia, my best years were from the age of 35 onwards.

“I think it’s being more comfortable with my game and where I am in the world, and a bit more relaxed about it. Additional experience stands you in good stead and I’ve always played better when I’ve been captain or coach because I always believe in trying to lead from the front.

“My control has always been very, very good and even after having some time off it feels like riding a bike. Everyone I bowl to I have vastly more experience and that additional knowledge puts you in a position where you can create a lot of pressure. I try to keep the runs down and go from there.”

Brooker, meanwhile, has now returned to his native South Africa after taking nine wickets in five first team games, five of them on debut.

Haffenden said: “He said he’s got nothing to complain about. He wasn’t happy to be playing in the twos - as an overseas pro wouldn’t be. It’s sad to see him go and we wish him all the best.”

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