Belief returning, says Bexhill skipper

James Walker displays a solid defence for Bexhill against Horsham last weekend. Pictures by Simon Newstead
James Walker displays a solid defence for Bexhill against Horsham last weekend. Pictures by Simon Newstead
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Bexhill captain Johnathan Haffenden feels as though the belief is returning to the cricket club following some improved recent performances.

Although unable to record back-to-back Sussex Premier League wins, Bexhill were only edged out by two wickets at home to high-riding Horsham last weekend.

Shawn Johnson digs out a full length delivery last weekend.

Shawn Johnson digs out a full length delivery last weekend.

Haffenden said: “I just feel there’s a bit of belief back in what we’re doing. The only way we’re ever going to get over the line is to put in some good solid performances individually and we’re doing that now.

“But the boys that are doing it need some back-up from a few of the rest of us. Everyone’s trying their hardest and we’re trying to get there.”

Bexhill remain second-from-bottom of the table, although they are now just 19 points behind neighbours Hastings Priory, who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom. Bexhill will host Hastings, incidentally, in the final game of the first half of the season on Saturday July 1.

“From what I’ve seen so far, we’ve got the capability to win a lot of games,” continued Haffenden. “We just need to keep picking up points.

In-form Bexhill batsman Malcolm Johnson lines up a drive against Horsham.

In-form Bexhill batsman Malcolm Johnson lines up a drive against Horsham.

“You can have a weekend of a 30-point swing if someone has an off day and, as I’ve said before, with 120 points to play for in the last four (games of the season, all of which will be played under the win or lose limited overs format), that could be massive.”

Despite being bowled out for 155, Bexhill almost pulled off an improbable victory against Horsham when they reduced the opposition to 119-7 in reply before Horsham got over the line.

“The second half was decent; the first half probably not good enough,” Haffenden went on. “We’re probably not far off, but we’re not quite there.

“Batting first on a day like that you always want to post more. It was very good up top from Mal (Johnson) again, but after that there were a couple of starts and not much offered up to be honest. I know Michael Munday’s a good bowler, but to let him get eight wickets is not acceptable.

“We knew we had to bowl well and our bowling has been pretty good to be fair. We were always in the game the whole (Horsham) innings, we took wickets regularly.

“We believed from probably five down (in Horsham’s reply) we were always in with a good shout. I can’t fault anyone. The effort we put in in the field was unbelievable and we were probably only 20, 30 runs shy of putting in a winning performance.

“If we put that intensity and performance in again, I’m sure we will win games. We’re playing some good cricket; we just need to tie up a few loose ends.”

Bexhill will be on their travels tomorrow (Saturday) in a tough-looking fixture away to second-placed Cuckfield.

“It’s a tough place to go,” added Haffenden. “They play their ground pretty well so we’ll have to be good.”

Bexhill have a few injury concerns. Shawn Johnson picked up a twinge in his groin during the warm-up against Horsham and was unable to bowl as a result, while James Walker did well to battle through a calf injury in the same game.

Bradley Payne is still struggling with his groin problem, but Bexhill are hoping the bowling all-rounder will be fit in time for the Hastings game.

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 7 matches): 1 East Grinstead 184pts, 2 Cuckfield 168, 3 Roffey 167, 4 Horsham 157, 5 Preston Nomads 141, 6 Middleton 133, 7 Brighton & Hove 112, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 70, 10 Ansty 43.