Sidley win cliffhanger at Gullivers

SIDLEY Cricket Club's encouraging start to the Sussex Division Two season reached a crescendo on Saturday when they edged out newly-relegated Lewes Priory in another Gullivers cliffhanger.

In an almost carbon copy of the drawn match with Roffey the previous week, this time Sidley managed to reach the winning line to complete Eddie Daniels' first win as captain.

"It was a fantastic result," Daniels said. "It was an excellent, all-round team performance and I'm very, very pleased indeed. It was the best we've played this season without doubt and what was nice was that we've taken the positives out of the first two results (they also lost narrowly to Bexhill on the opening day) and we've built on them. We've continued to bowl very well and we've built the pressure by giving them nothing in the field."

Even on early season wickets, which often favour ball more than bat, Sidley can be well-pleased with restricting their opponents to significantly less than 200 twice in a row.

Peter King was again outstanding, taking 5-72 to add to his four wickets the previous week after bowling right through the Lewes innings which finished on 154-8.

Pakistani Rizwan Ahmed was asked to bowl seam-up rather than his usual spin and kept a tight reign on the run flow by conceding less than two runs per over. Tyrone Wildman replaced him and also kept things tight, while the fielding was razor sharp.

The most prominent example came when Phil Belfield took a steepling catch on the slope to remove Suren Perera, who smashed 29 runs off 17 balls in the middle order. Michael Murray (43) was the only other Lewes batsman to really get going and Daniels knew at tea that "we had given ourselves a great chance".

Their prospects didn't look so good, though, when the previous week's fifty-maker Scott Woodroffe and opening partner Wildman fell early, followed shortly afterwards by the unfortunate Rizwan.

At 54-4 even Daniels confessed that "we were looking in a little bit of trouble", until a crucial fifth wicket partnership of 77 between Chris Hunnisett (26) and in-form Richard Matthews (53), who has now made 121 runs in three matches since his close season switch from Hastings Priory, put them back in the hunt.

Even then they still had a lot to do, but Lewes brought on spinner Perera and the gamble backfired spectacularly as King blasted an unbeaten 21 off only 14 balls - his first runs this season - to take Sidley home by three wickets with nine balls to spare.