Why Stirlands have never been happier after defeat

Stirlands' first XI, pictured earlier in the season / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Stirlands' first XI, pictured earlier in the season / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Stirlands lost their final game of the season - but their 14-point haul from a close affair at home to Goring was enough to see them promoted from Sussex League division four.

They hosted champions Goring knowing promotion was in their own hands – a 30-point victory would guarantee promotion regardless of the result between nearest rivals Steyning and Slinfold.

Home captain Torquil Deacon won the toss and chose to bat, relying on Mike Clowes and George Briance setting the platform against Goring’s dangerous overseas player Kellon Carmichael.

Carmichael was seen off but new-ball partner Ross Baumann produced a fine spell removing Clowes, Briance and Will Gubbins, all for single-figure scores.

Deacon and Jamaine Bullen saw off Baumann but Stirlands lost their captain to an excellent delivery from Oliver Watkins.

Dan Mugford and Bullen swung momentum towards the home side, with singles and punishing stroke play. Bullen brought up his third 50 for the club to immense cheers from the home support.

A quick calculation confirmed Stirlands’ promotion, to the delight of all present.

Bullen increased his scoring rate as he and Mugford pushed the home side towards 200. Mugford edged behind on 42 before nother product of the Stirlands youth ranks, Jake Moores, joined Bullen.

The pair ensured full batting points were secured with two overs remaining.

Moores tried to help Bullen to his ton but time ran out and Bullen finished on a magnificent 94 not out; even more remarkable given he was struggling with a side strain.

The home side needed to take ten wickets for promotion, whie the visitors required 210.

Goring openers Alex Maynard and Ben Cartwright rotated the strike easily and put away the regular ‘four balls’. At the mid-innings drinks break, Goring still had their opening pair at the crease.

Raj Maru was introduced and quickly achieved a double breakthrough, removing the openers in successive overs, both lbw misjudging the sweep shot. This gave the home side a sudden injection of energy and suddenly things started happening.

Gubbins was reintroduced from the Church end, inducing a faint edge from the dangerous Carmichael which wasn’t detected by the umpire.

Four runs later Carmichael had an almighty hoik and was caught by David Briance. Bullen was reintroduced and quickly picked up two wickets in an excellent spell.

A rumour filtered through that Steyning had beaten Slinfold, meaning 13 points would put Stirlands into division three.

The home side were still focused on trying to secure the win that would guarantee promotion. Twelve runs were required off the last two overs when Bullen was launched over his head for six.

Into the final over, George Briance took the ninth wicket to raise everyone’s heart rate. Two balls later, the game was over as Aaron Wyatt chipped Briance over the covers and scrambled the required two runs Goring needed.

The rumours from Steyning proved correct as the home side’s supporters confirmed a phone call had been received from Steyning, who hopeful of promotion themselves were keen to know the result.

A quick calculation confirmed Stirlands’ promotion, to the delight of all present – and that of nervous club captain George Coles, who was helpless on a cycling holiday in Europe.

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