Bexhill Cricket Club’s first team suffered a losing start to the Sussex Premier League season on Saturday.
Johnathan Haffenden’s side was beaten by 84 runs away to newly-promoted Middleton, despite a half-century from the skipper himself.
Middleton amassed 249 after winning the toss and choosing to bat in a 50-overs-per-side affair as the league adopted the limited overs format for the first time.
Jake Lewis (3-0-21-1) made an early breakthrough for Bexhill, bowling Angus Robson with a top class delivery, but newly-arrived South African, Gerhardt Abrahams, and Middleton skipper Sean Heather put on 68 for the second wicket.
Shawn Johnson (8-2-30-3) pinned Abrahams leg before for a swift 42 off 34 balls and he then had Ben Farbrache caught by Ethan Guest for one just two runs later to leave Middleton 74-3. That became 119-4 when Joe Cox (5-1-36-1) trapped Patrick Colvin in front for 29 off 25 balls.
But a fifth wicket partnership of 89 between Heather and Jamie Thompson took Middleton past the 200 mark and put them on course for a substantial total. It finally ended when Heather dragged a Nick Peters (10-0-47-2) ball back onto his stumps for 81.
Bexhill did well thereafter to pick up five more wickets for 41 runs as they kept Middleton just under 250. Josh Beeslee (10-0-43-1) took the first of them, Peters picked up his second and Bradley Payne (7.3-1-36-2) claimed his first two league wickets for the club either side of Johnson bowling Thompson for 53.
Bexhill got off to a poor start in reply. Lewis was bowled by Tommy Davies for one with the score just two and Shawn Johnson fell in identical fashion for two to leave the visitors 17-2.
Malcolm Johnson and Haffenden repaired some of the damage until Johnson was caught for a brisk 34 off 29 balls with the score 49. Then came the highest partnership of the innings as Haffenden and Tim Hambridge put on 65 for the fourth wicket, Hambridge eventually becoming the first victim of Heather (8-1-20-4) for 24.
None of Bexhill’s final six batsmen made it to double figures, though, as the innings subsided from 114-3 to 165 all out, with Heather and Craig Fowle (9.2-0-32-3) taking all of the last seven wickets. Haffenden was eighth man out for 65 off 67 balls having hit nine fours and a six.
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