Battle out of drop zone after first win of season

Curtis Coombes steered Battle to victory against Chiddingly with an unbeaten half-century
Curtis Coombes steered Battle to victory against Chiddingly with an unbeaten half-century

Battle Cricket Club’s first team has moved out of the 1st Central Sussex Cricket League Division Five East relegation zone.

Curtis Coombes and Ben Newman forged a match-winning partnership as Battle won by seven wickets at home to Chiddingly - their first victory since beating the same opposition at the tail end of last season.

For the first time this season, Battle lost the toss - and an important one it looked too after considerable midweek rain and a lack of drying opportunities. Lady luck smiled on Battle, though, as late arrivals forced Chiddingly to bat first.

See also: * Crowhurst Park’s winning run ended by home defeat
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* Hastings’ bid for back-to-back wins thwarted by rain

Battle skipper Colin Driscoll seems to have found the secret to a good start and Dave Baldock is it! Although wicketless, the control he gave allowed Battle to build immediate pressure.

Steve Lucent, finally semi-fit following a prolonged injury, benefited by claiming a comeback wicket; one of his specialities.

Unfairly dubbed ‘the stout Jimmy Anderson’, Lucent (1-23) was replaced by newcomer George Howard-Smith (3-23), who offered a rare bit of variety into the Battle attack.

After a nervous start, the youngster produced the key spell of the game. A super outswinger clipped the top of Mike Parker’s (19) off stump and a confidence surge led to two further wickets in his next five balls, including the set George Lofthouse (40).

With Chiddingly in trouble at 80-4, Battle had chances to further turn the screw - but both batsman were dropped in the gully region to difficult chances.

Little did this matter, though, as Newman (1-25) and Coombes (1-20) kept the score contained while adding an attacking threat. Newman, in particular, could have had more and bowled with the fire of old.

Harvey Faulkner (1-29) added a further wicket and Jo Carthew (2-4) finished off the tail as Chiddingly limped to 156 all out.

Regular visitors to George Meadow will know that the wicket can often be at its finest when a little damp and Battle’s opening batsman were able to walk to the wicket after tea with some confidence that the bounce was consistent, with just a small amount of seam movement.

This notion was quickly kicked into touch as the visitors copied Battle’s approach of opening with an off-spinner and Phill Dunn generated considerable turn from ball one.

At the other end, Jack Meacher generated pace significantly quicker than anything seen in the league so far. Carthew suffered some enormous bruises until three boundaries in the final over of Meacher’s spell took the smile from his face a little.

By this time, Jim Philcox had been bowled by Dunn (1-30). Carthew (29) fell in identical fashion to numerous other innings this season, throwing his wicket away to the change bowlers.

Ed Monnington (2-30) quickly followed up with Faulkner’s wicket and at 69-3 there was a little pressure.

Never looking rushed, Coombes’ chanceless innings frustrated every bowler. As the innings wore on, he increased his strike rate and combined with the hitting of Newman, the pair quickly took the game away from the visitors.

Scoring just shy of a run a ball, Newman (41 not out) was lucky to see a couple of aerial shots evade the fielders while Coombes (63 not out) kept a cool head to steer the ship home.

The highlight of the innings for most was an enormous straight six hit by Newman off the first ball of Meacher’s second spell.

Battle can travel to Bells Yew Green tomorrow (Saturday) with renewed confidence.