Cricketers aim for Sussex League and Invitation League glory

Bognor were division three champions / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Bognor were division three champions / Picture by Kate Shemilt

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Cricket is back – the local season starts in earnest this weekend and our local sides all going into the new season with hopes of success.

The West Sussex Invitation League programme starts on Saturday, while Sussex League clubs get stuck into their T20 competition.

The West Sussex Invitation League programme starts on Saturday, while Sussex League clubs get stuck into their T20 competition.

Here we look at teams throughout the Observer series area and hear of their ambitions for the season.

SUSSEX LEAGUE

MIDDLETON

Last season - 10th in Sussex Premier League

Division for 2016 - Div 2

Realistic aim – Having had a taste of premier division cricket we would love to have another crack – the target for the season is to put ourselves in with a chance of doing that. With the structure of Sussex Cricket changing dramatically in 2017 we’re looking for our second XI to finish as high up the league as is possible.

Players in – New signings include Matt Cooke from Eastbourne, Craig Fowle from East Grinstead, Matthew Reynolds from Arundel and Will Affleck from Parramatta CC.

First XI capt– - Sean Heather

Any other news? After ten seasons of skippering the second team Glen Houchen has stood down and will be replaced by youngster Will Searle with Adam Rawstrone his vice-captain. Sussex and England’s Mike Yardy is due to be coaching at the club throughout the season.

PAGHAM

Last season – 7th in Div 2

Division for 2016 – Div 2

Realistic aim – Top half

Players out – Nabid Rehman

First XI capt – Stuart Rutter

Any other news? Very big effort made on getting sponsors for the club, resulting in additional income for 2016 of around £5,000 – and club thanked all sponsors for their support.

BOGNOR

Last season – Div 3 champions

Division for 2016 – Div 2

Realistic aim – Top-five finish

Players in – Rob Willway (Middleton)

Out – Charlie La Foret (Bristol)

First XI capt – Zayne Bux

Any other news?

Following Bognor’s title win in 2015, the club are looking to cement there place in division two in 2016. Most of last year’s squad remain and with the welcome return of Rob Willway from Middleton, the omens are good.

South African maestro Zayne Bux returns again as captain-coach of the first XI with seamer Graham Bush vice-captain once more.

Bognor’s second XI has a new captain – wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Seward. With last year’s record-breaking seamer Rich Cox as vice-skipper the squad are in great shape.

This year also sees Bognor entering a third XI to aid and develop the club’s increasing group of promising colts. John Hooker moves over from Sunday captain and is helped by former Hayling Island paceman Jon Whitewood as vice-captain.

The team are a fine blend of experience and enthusiasm. Hooker continues to run the midweek team and he, Andy Lee, all-rounder Josh Broad and silky opener Mark Woolnough will take turns leading the Sunday team.

CHICHESTER PRIORY PARK

Last season - 4th in Div 3

Division for 2016 - Div 3

Realistic aim – Challenge for promotion

Players in – Sam Harvey, Richard Hancocks

Out – Daniel Weigl, James Chrissy

First XI capt – Jonny Heaven

Any other news? Second XI captain is Jamie Hopkins, third XI Michael Alder, fourth XI Andrew Barnes, U19 T20 captain is Matthew Bennison. Ladies’ training starts on April 22 and they’ll be captained by Demelza Peake.

STIRLANDS

Last season - 7th in Div 4

Division for 2016 – Div 4

Realistic aim – Captain George Coles said: “The arrival of spring brings excitement, butterflies and promise to Stirlands. Promotion is an achievable target for this Stirlands team, by some solid top order batting, tight bowling and enthusiasm in the field.

“The early season presents itself as a great opportunity for players to express themselves and get the season off to a flying start. Next week’s T20 cup fixture will be a perfect opportunity for players to hone their skills before the league kicks off on May 7.

“As the new captain of the Stirlands first XI I am looking forward to the challenge and excited at the prospect of an enjoyable and successful season in Birdham.”

Players in – Matt James from Waterlooville, who will add experience and an additional left-arm spin bowling option to the club

First XI Capt – George Coles

Any other news? Over the winter, the senior indoor side won the Arun Leisure Centre indoor league, losing only one of 12 games, which was to Middleton, and even then by only 2 runs.

This Saturday is the first and second rounds of the T20 league cup – we are hosting Chichester and Bognor’s first-round tie, beginning at midday and then we’re taking on the winner at 3.30pm.

WEST SUSSEX INVITATION LEAGUE

EASTERGATE

Last season – 1st X1 second in Div 2 and promoted; 2nd X1 third in Div 7, also promoted.

Division for 2016 – 1st X1 in Div 1 and 2nd XI in Div 6.

Realistic aim – 1st X1 mid-table, establishing themselves in Div 1; 2nd X1 promotion to Div 5.

Players in: Justin Poyser (from Australia).

1st X1 Captain: Jack Stannard.

Any other news? The firsts are looking forward to their first season in Division 1 and with a team mostly comprised of young players who have developed through Eastergate’s highly successful junior section. The club have continued to invest in coaching qualifications and facilities, and this season have new sight screens to complement the electronic scoreboard, outdoor nets and new grounds machinery.

SELSEY

Last season – Champions of Div 3

Division for 2016 - Div 2; Second XI in Div 8 after promotion

Realistic aim – To finish in mid-table.

First XI Capt – Nic Nolan

ALDWICK

Last season - First XI 5th in Div 2/Second XI 6th in Div 6

Division for 2016 - 1sts Div 2/2nds - Div 6

Realistic aim – Ppromotion for both teams is a realistic target

Players in – No new players confirmed yet but there is a possibility of new blood before the league season starts.

Out – Sorry to lose Louis Paul to Littlehampton

First XI capt – Ollie Smith

Any other news? Ambitious plans are under way to start a Colts set-up for the first time this season. A new ‘artificial strip’ has been laid to assist with this and qualified coaches will be in attendance. Aldwick have more than 100 fixtures confirmed for 2016 which includes a tour to the Isle of Wight in June.

WEST WITTERING

1st XI

Last season - 3rd in Div 3

Division for 2016 - Div 3

Realistic aim - Promotion

First XI capt - Carl Tupper

Any other news? Adult training is Wednesdays at 6pm, juniors Fridays at 6pm. Teams at U9, U11, U13 & U15 (joint with Selsey CC).

2nd XI

Last season - Champions of Div 8

Division for 2016 - Div 7

Realistic aim - Promotion

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