Middleton lead the charge to be Sussex’s premier team

Chi Priory Park celebratr winning the division three title at Goodwood / Picture by Malcolm Lamb
Chi Priory Park celebratr winning the division three title at Goodwood / Picture by Malcolm Lamb

It’s time for part two of our preview of the Sussex League cricket season.

Last week we focused on the sides moving from the old West sussex Invitation League to the new-look Sussex League – this week it’s the turn of the clubs who were in the new set-up’s predecessor, the Sussex Premier League.

Middleton, Bognor, Chichester, Stirlands and Pagham will all play in the top three tiers of the league. Here’s how they’re shaping up...

PREMIER DIVISION

MIDDLETON

Middleton

Division and finishing spot in 2017: Premier division, 7th

Division this year: Premier division

Realistic hopes for the season: We have a couple of new additions this year as well as a few faces moving on from last season. We have a good blend of experienced players and young players that will have a chance to develop and learn from the senior players through the course of the 2018 campaign. With possible changes on the horizon for Sussex cricket in 2019, continuing to establish ourselves as a stable premier-division club is priority as well as enjoying our cricket and playing in the right spirit.

1st team capt: Sean Heather

Players out: None

Players in: We are looking forward to welcoming Mahesh Rawat to the club, an experienced first-class cricketer from India. We also have a couple of talented youngsters joining us, Josh Wood ( previously at Worthing) and Gregory Iago from Goring. Experienced Premier League bowler Craig Fowle, whose availability was restricted last year, is set to play a full part in our season this year which will be a tremendous boost for the club.

DIVISION TWO

CHICHESTER PRIORY PARK

Division and finishing spot in 2017: Sussex Div 3, champions

Division this year: Div 2

Realistic hopes: Maintain place in division two

1st XI capt: Matt Geffen

Players out: None

Players in: Joe De La Fuente (Pagham), Joe Nicols (Brighton & Hove), Sam Caldera (Stirlands), Kevin Smith (Broadbridge Heath), Julian Caspart (Arundel), Hari Daggubati (Bath University), Hari Elisetti, Magnus Kristensen (Denmark U19s).

Any other news? Big news from the winter is the re-introduction of a girls/ladies’ section at the club. We are committed to the women’s game and aims to be leader for growth in the region. The club are offering a taster session this Sunday (April 29) at Bishop Luffa School with an aim to continue with regular training session during the summer. The ultimate aim, depending on the uptake, is to regularly enter a team to leagues/tournaments in 2019.

After two near misses, Chichester ended the 2017 season as champions of the Sussex Premier League Third Division. It was a hard fought season with the promotion places being decided on the final day of the season.

Over the winter the team has strengthened the squad, acquiring Joe De La Fuente from local rivals Pagham amongst many others. As with previous seasons.

Chichester’s strength is in their bowling attack. Captain Matt Geffen and fellow seam bowler Dan Joseph will be relied upon to take regular wickets. They will be supported by Magnus Kristensen, an exciting prospect who has represented Denmark at under-19 level.

Consistency is the objective from the batting side. Last year when the batsmen performed well, Chichester inevitably won the game. There were still a few mid-order wobbles and these need to be ironed out if the team wish to maintain their place in the second division.

They will be looking to top run-scorer from last year Jay Hartard and last year’s form batsmen Peter Lamb and Matt Bennison to get among the runs again in 2018.

BOGNOR

Division and finishing spot in 2017: Sussex Div 2, 7th

Division this year: Div 2

Realistic hopes: The loss of key and senior players means a youthful first team will be focused on consolidating their status as a division-two side, and spoiling a few parties along the way.

1st team capt: Mike Harris

Players out: Max Ashmore (Salim Akbar CC), Elliott Clarke (Harlequins CC), Joe Ashmore (Horsham CC), Rob Willway (South Wilts CC, temp)

Players in: Marquino Mindley (Jamaica), Ryan Maskell (Horsham CC)

Any other news? Bognor have opened a new matchday bottle bar, and encourage local patrons to get down to the Regis Oval to watch some high-quality cricket in the sunshine

DIVISION THREE WEST

PAGHAM

Division and finishing spot in 2017: Sussex Div 3, 4th

Division this year: Div 3 West

Realistic hopes: Top half/push for a promotion spot

1st team capt: Stuart Hanks

Players out: Joe De La Fuente, Kev Condon and Aiden Zammit

Players in: Rico Webb and Jack Stannard

Any other news? Because of a recent leak in the clubhouse, there has been a lovely new refurbishment with the club re-opening on May 5. We have just have new astro nets laid, and Gary young is the new chairman after Paul Rutter stepped down following 15 years in the role.

STIRLANDS

Division and finishing spot in 2017: Sussex Div 4, 2nd

Division this year: Div 3 West

Realistic hopes: Captain George Coles said: “Following back-to-back promotions for the Stirlands first XI, the 2018 season cannot come soon enough for those looking to challenge for the 11 spots on the teamsheet.

“Once again the Sussex leagues have been restructured and Stirlands find themselves lining up against some familiar foes, with the likes of Slinfold providing menacing opposition for a third year in a row.

“Despite this, the 2018 season offers a fantastic opportunity for this team to cement itself in the higher echelons of the Sussex leagues. With a balance of experienced club cricketers and emerging and maturing young talent, this group of players will be excited about their first competitive outing in the T20 tournament at home to Findon on April 28.

“Confidence and momentum are building at the club and backed, as ever, by the local supporters, and with a new chairman in place, is a promotion hat-trick on the cards? It is certainly possible with the talent within the club and a challenge that we are all looking forward it.”

1st team capt: George Coles

Players out: Sam Caldera (Chichester)

Players in: Hector Monro joins from Wisborough Green, Bajan all-rounder Jamaine Bullen is back for his second season.

Any other news? In recognition of more than 50 years’ service to the club, at the end of last season the committee took the unanimous decision to rename the pavilion after president Charles Hunt.

The second XI aim to combine experience and youth in what is hoped to be an exciting 2018; some senior players have chosen to step down from the first XI to help nurture younger members of the club transition to senior cricket in a move that the club believe will bring much craved success to the second XI after a few years in the doldrums, under the new captaincy of Al Grant.