Crowhurst Park Cricket Club’s first team achieved its third consecutive victory on Saturday.
A five-wicket win at home to Hailsham lifted Park up to fourth in 1st Central Sussex Cricket League Division Four East.
Park skipper Nick Taylor lost the toss and Hailsham chose to bat on a glorious-looking wicket, prepared by club stalwart Gordon Pells and his glamorous assistant Dave Shillabeer.
The home side got off to a disciplined start as Ben Naylor and Brad Payne gave the Hailsham openers a minimal amount of balls to free their hands at. The pressure soon told as Payne made an early breakthrough, claiming the wicket of the dangerous Robert Wilkinson (12).
The introduction of Josh Jones brought about another breakthrough and when Clive Tong, replacing the exhausted Payne, got in on the act, the visitors were 30-3 after 16 overs.
Varun Khullar and Aaron Norwood looked to rebuild with a mixture of patience and careful aggression. Although a useful partnership developed, Park never allowed them to get away from them.
Hailsham knew a run rate of three-per-over wouldn’t suffice on this pitch. In looking to up the tempo, Khullar was well caught by Matt Constable off the bowling of Tong for 39.
Ollie McDonald (16) joined Norwood and they took Hailsham to 140-4 with 10 overs left and 200 potentially in site.
But with spinners Archie Fairfax-Ross and Tim Hambridge operating from one end, and the ever-reliable death-over bowling of Constable at the other, Park were able to check Hailsham’s progress. The latter picked up the key wicket of Norwood, who grafted well for 66.
Once he fell, the Hailsham tail-enders didn’t look like troubling the scorers as Hambridge and Constable finished with three wickets apiece, reducing the visitors to 182 all out.
Although both sides knew it was a below par score, Park still had a job to do, and with Hambridge falling in the second over of their reply, to an unfortunate drag-on, a few nerves rumbled around.
Nevertheless, the in-form Ed Smissen and Martin Barry put together a crucial partnership of 70, laying a solid foundation on which to build. Smissen, in particular, took a liking to the Hailsham attack as he despatched the ball to all parts of the ground.
Park’s momentum was checked as Barry fell for a well-made 28, but Payne and Smissen looked set to take the side home until Payne fell to Khullar (2-43) for a useful 23.
Fifteen-year-old Fairfax-Ross and Smissen looked to take Park over the line with some lusty blows, but James McDonald saw the back of Fairfax-Ross (15) and Smissen for a classy 70.
At 155-5, a famous Park collapse didn’t look too far away, but Rak Patel and the skipper saw the side home inside 27 overs, capping off a comfortable victory.
The Claremont School man of the match was Smissen for his match-winning innings.
Park will look to continue their good run of form as they travel to East Grinstead seconds next Saturday.
1st Central Sussex Cricket League Division Four East standings (played 5 matches unless stated): 1 Buxted Park 133pts, 2 Glynde & Beddingham (6) 133, 3 St Peters 111, 4 CROWHURST PARK 108, 5 Mayfield II 104, 6 East Grinstead II 103, 7 Keymer & Hassocks 83, 8 LITTLE COMMON RAMBLERS 74, 9 Hailsham 71, 10 BEXHILL II (6) 62.