Stirlands endured the cruellest imaginable end to their Sussex League division two season – taking 28 points out of 30 as they successfully chased a big total at Cuckfield, only to find Ifield had taken maximum points to send them down by one point.
No-one deserved sympathy more than youngster Nick Gubbins, who hit a remarkable unbeaten 199.
Stirlands travelled to Cuckfield knowing maximum points would see them stay up, having gone a point ahead of Ifield a week earlier.
Cuckfield elected to bat and applied themselves well despite the early loss of A Edwards (14), who was caught by Hunt off the bowling of Cox with the score on 23.
Cuckfield stalwart Tom Mole (63) and Kiwi Brook Hatfield (112) helped set an imposing target.
The dismissal of Mole brought the opportunity for Stirlands to make further inroads into the Cuckfield line-up. The resistance of Hatfield came to an end, slowing the accumulation of runs further until Cuckfield declared with a score of 283 for eight from 50 overs.
The declaration took chances of survival out of Stirlands’ hands, and even with a win they would be looking for Ifield to drop points to go their way.
Nick Hunt and Nick Gubbins strode on to the oval with their team-mates and supporters hoping for a strong showing.
The loss of Hunt to the first ball was a blow. Alex Garlick and Gubbins steadied the ship before Garlick was dismissed, followed soon by Gooding for a duck.
But a sumptuous knock from Gubbins continued to develop as his brother Will built a good partnership with him. After Will’s demise Nick’s batting was a delight to watch as the Middlesex Academy player demonstrated his range of shots in scoring a blistering 199 from 133 balls to seal the victory for Stirlands and 28 points. But his wondrous display was in vain.
News filtered through that Ifield had won and the points were being feverishly calculated.
Despite not achieving the full ten batting points by only scoring 172, under the County League’s unique scoring system, Ifield were awarded 30 points following the capitulation by Goring-by-Sea to a paltry 47 – leaving Stirlands to reflect on a future in the third tier.