Stirlands travelled to fellow strugglers Pulborough – and came away buoyant at their first win of the season.
With patchy rain around and grass left on an under-prepared wicket, Stirlands won the toss and decided to bat first to make first use of a wicket that would only get worse.
Nick Hunt and Stuart Hanks got Stirlands off to a flyer, plundering 60 in the first six overs. Pulborough did not help themselves by offering up plenty of wides, no-balls and short wide balls for Hunt to crack through point.
Hanks at the other end matched Hunt stroke for stroke, hitting over the top and forcing Pulborough captain Imran Khan to bring himself on.
The change worked as a ball from Khan stuck in the wicket as Hanks played to short cover, Hanks departing for 26 after sharing an opening stand of 89 with Hunt.
Hunt soon followed for 40, bowled by Khan. Clowes was stumped for seven, again off Khan, and Stirlands found themselves 107 for three.
Captain Will Gubbins rebuilt with the help of George Coles, Aaron Kinchen, Adam Downing and James Lynch, reaching 51 before holing out to long off chasing quick runs at the end of the innings.
At 176 for seven with an over to go, Stirlands were in danger of failing to reach 180, but Lynch and George Briance saw them there and Stirlands finished 180 for eight from their 53 overs. Khan was the pick of the Pulborough bowlers with five for 29 from his 24 overs.
On a wicket showing dramatic variable bounce, with balls either shooting along the floor or leaping up, it was a great team effort from Stirlands and a very defendable score on that wicket with tight bowling. So it proved.
Opening up with veteran seamer Jon Philmore and left-armer Struan Cameron, the latter trapped James Heimers lbw with his first delivery and Pulborough were 0-1.
Tariq Farhan fell the same way for eight, and Pulborough were rocking. Pulborough’s hopes rested on overseas player Saurabh Tiwari’s shoulders before Philmore struck, Tiwari driving to Will Gubbins at extra cover for 12.
Stirlands all but ended the home side’s hopes when James Lynch bowled captain Khan for 14 to make it 44 for four. From then on it was a procession as Stirlands struck with regular wickets.
Only James Smillie (19) and James Chriss (20*) provided any resistance as Pulborough were all out for 100 inside 39 overs. Cameron finished with seven for 28 and Stirlands took home 28 points and closed the gap to the teams above them.