Bexhill face key basement battle

Shawn Johnson bowling for Bexhill during their recent league fixture at home to Preston Nomads. Picture courtesy Andy Hodder
Shawn Johnson bowling for Bexhill during their recent league fixture at home to Preston Nomads. Picture courtesy Andy Hodder

We may be less than a third of the way through the season, but Bexhill Cricket Club faces what looks to be a key game today (Saturday).

Bexhill will travel to Ansty for a match in which both sides will be desperate to get their Sussex Premier League campaigns up and running after five consecutive defeats.

“It’s one that we will be looking to win even though we’ve not produced any good displays yet,” said Bexhill captain Johnathan Haffenden.

“But it’s still early in the season. I think the difference is this year you can still pick up 120 points in the last four games (all of which will be played under the win or lose limited overs format).”

Second-bottom Bexhill are four points better off than tomorrow’s opponents, but are already 46 adrift of neighbours Hastings Priory, who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom.

“It’s important that we pick up points, but we need to win - that’s the big thing we need to get behind us,” continued Haffenden. “Until we start to improve our performance, we’re going to struggle to get there playing the way we are.

“We need to step up and that’s every single one of us as well. Usually in cricket if a couple are out of form, someone else is in form and you can get by. But at the moment we’ve not got anyone who’s been in good nick and the pressure keeps building.”

After five win or lose 50-overs-per-side limited overs matches, the next nine will be played under the timed format used in previous seasons, where a draw is also possible. And Bexhill will be hoping the change of format can help spark a change in fortune.

“I thought we would play the 50-over cricket a lot better than we have done,” admitted Haffenden. “It hasn’t worked for us.

“It’s an extra 10 overs (under the timed format). I’m not overly sure we’ll approach it any differently to what we have done anyway. We always seem to play the same way whatever format we play.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a few different team selections, but we’re sticking with our boys and that’s the way we’re going to go.”

Bexhill’s current points total of 32 is thought to be their lowest after five matches in any season since they joined the Sussex League in 1978.

But with the Ansty game being followed by a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup second round tie at home to Preston Nomads tomorrow (1pm start), Haffenden is hoping they will get their campaign going this weekend.

“This could be the first week I don’t have to make a change (in personnel),” he went on. “That’s what we need; a bit of consistency in our side and consistency in our play.

“It’s always hard when you’re chopping and changing, and hopefully we can get settled and kick-start our season with two big wins.”

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 5 matches): 1 Roffey 128pts, 2 East Grinstead 126, 3 Brighton & Hove 110, 4 Cuckfield 108, 5 Preston Nomads 104, 6 Horsham 97, 7 Middleton 92, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 78, BEXHILL 32, 10 Ansty 28.