WHAT a season it’s been in the West Sussex Invitation for our local teams.
Eastergate and Aldwick are celebrating promotion from division three and West Wittering have won the same prize in division four.
What’s more, Aldwick and West Wittering’s second XIs have also gone up.
Here’s how they all clinched their prizes and / or celebrated...
Eastergate v Brighton & Hove III
Invitation League division three
Eastergate celebrated in style as they marked promotion and the title with another win.
Saturday’s victory capped a superb season. After the first two games of the season were cancelled, they went on an unbeaten run of ten games winning eight and drawing two.
One of the draws was against title rivals Aldwick, which gave Eastergate the upper hand in the race for glory. The only loss came to Himani but they bounced back to win at Southwick the following week and claim the title.
Players thanked Jan Thwaites for scoring every game; umpires Kevin White, Ted Richards and Ian Brittain, Ian Paine for the doing the pitch every week and other helpers like the tea ladies.
Skipper Jack Stannard said: “We’re looking forward to next season in division two.”
Against Brighton, Stannard won the toss and elected to bat. Stannard lost his opening partner Ian Blow early but a partnership of 87 with Nick Smith (49) took them to 113, when Stannard went for 61.
Smith followed and Eastergate fell to 123 for five at the hands of the Brighton spinners. Andy White counter-attacked with a quick 48 off 36 balls, taking Eastergate to a respectable 192.
Brighton looked to be positive knowing only a win would keep them in the hunt for the second promotion spot.
Early wickets from Chris Brittain (2-50) and Tom Stannard (2-44) reduced Brighton to 59 for three but with Brighton’s overseas player still there the game was in the balance until Pete Smith removed him with a beautiful ball to leave the score on 115 for four.
The runs dried up and wickets were falling to Pete Smith (3-32) and Rejo Raju (1-29).
Nick Smith (2-9) removed the last two wickets and Brighton were all out for 174, Eastergate winning by 18 runs to send the champagne corks flying extra high. This result also meant Aldwick would join Eastergate in promotion.
Aldwick v Crawley Nayee
Aldwick have clinched promotion to division two.
They approached their final league game of 2014 knowing they had to win to stay in the race and aware their nearest rival had a game in hand.
In the end, the day went perfectly for the home side as they thrashed Crawley Nayee by 100 runs and table-toppers Eastergate overturned their nearest rival, guaranteeing Aldwick promotion.
Batting first, Aldwick were consistent with Ahmit Chauhan (40) top scoring, closely followed by Joel Lodge (39) and Dean Stokes (29).
First-change bowler Manoj Parekh (4-65) must have thought he had given his side a fighting chance with a fine spell that contained Aldwick to 182 for eight.
Aldwick’s bowlers knew the importance of this game and ripped through the visitors’ batting with ease.
Keelan Belcher (2-33) and Josh Sargeant (1-18) started the rout and Ollie Smith (2-5) and Joel Lodge 4-17) took over as Crawley Nayee tumbled to 82 all out in under 34 overs.
Skipper Joel Lodge said he was proud of his young team being runners-up and achieving promotion in a tough league and was already looking forward to the challenges of division two next year.
West Wittering v Horsham III
With the title sealed, West Wittering offered a chance for their up-and-coming juniors to experience first XI cricket – and they did not disappoint.
Second-placed Horsham elected to bowl and soon ripped through the top order, leaving Wittering on 35 for five.
With regular first-teamers Gareth Lendrum, Carl Tupper, Mitch Hackshaw, Richard Hammond and Simon Lowther scoring only nine runs between them, a hero was needed.
Opener Mark Taylor stayed steady at the crease and was joined by Steen Claxton. The pair took the game away from the opposition, putting on more than 100 between them. Claxton was bowled for a match-saving 43 and Taylor (92) followed.
Young debutants Charlie Caddy, Alex Fitzgerald and Aaron Newman added an extra 15 to the total before Fitzgerald was caught off the last ball – Wittering finishing on 182 all out.
Mindful of Horsham’s determination to win, a rousing team talk from the skipper in the huddle ensured Wittering came out all guns blazing.
Alex Salmon took a wicket with his second ball and claimed his second victim two overs later. From the other end, 14-year-old Aaron Newman bowled tight lines and swung the ball beautifully, eventually claimed his first-ever first XI wicket, clean bowled.
Horsham found themselves 45 for five but Matthew Butterworth (52) offered resistance before being removed by Tupper, caught by Taylor.
Caddy bowled well on debut with no reward and Fitzgerald claimed his first first-XI wicket, caught at point by Richard Hammond.
Hammond’s spin (1-27) and Salmon’s pace tore through the tail, Salmon the pick of the bowlers, picking up six for 42 runs and claiming the joint man of the match award with Taylor.
Wittering won by 33 runs and wait to see if Horsham will join them in division three in 2015.
Rustington II v Aldwick II
Aldwick II’s fate was completely in their own hands and they beat Rustington to ensure their own promotion.
At one end, Tom Hoare (56) stood firm for the visitors with a crucial half-century as many of his team-mates fell early to the opening bowling pair of Sam Smith (2-27) and Ben Kimber (2-40).
Hoare’s support came in the shape of Luke Spindler (50) ,whose contribution was vital in a competitive final score of 218 all out.
Late flurries from Harry Rosser (23) and Ed Firlotte (16) helped bolster the final total.
It was Aldwick’s day with the ball as they shot out Rustington for just 125 in the 39th over, achieving victory and securing promotion to division six.
Simon Blowen (32) and Glen Lovegrove (30) offered resistance but Will Lewry bowled a scintillating spell of six for 20 in 9.3 overs.
Rosser (2-35) was the other main wicket taker as Aldwick completed a promotion double. They will sit out next week’s final fixtures waiting to see if they are champions.
Ram III v West Wittering II
With a win needed to secure promotion, West Wittering skipper Ben Doyle asked Ram to bat.
Kev Allsobrook and Joe Pink kept the score down and put the home team under pressure which produced wickets on a regular basis.
Joe Sissons took wickets off his first two balls and Mark Brien was magnificent.
After only 28 overs, Ram’s hopes were rapidly dimming as they were all bowled out for 77. Sissons ended up with three for 24, Pink two for 24.
In reply, Ben Doyle helped himself to some loose bowling with an array of shots. Marc Slowey couldn’t back him up and left the scene for a scratchy eight.
Liam Bates joined the rampant skipper and chipped in with an unbeaten ten, leaving Doyle joyous in achieving his well-deserved half-century and ending 58 not out.
So with promotion achieved the top two West Wittering teams, the players can take a well-earned break this weekend.
Doyle said after a long hard season he wanted the youngsters from the club to hold their heads high and be very proud of what they had achieved.
“Although next year may be harder, we are already looking forward to next season as this year’s experience will make them even more of a force to be reckoned with especially combined with some senior guidance,” he added.