Jake Lewis played a superb innings to save Bexhill Cricket Club’s first team from embarrassment on Saturday.
The Australian overseas player scored 76 of Bexhill’s 95 runs during a seven-wicket defeat away to new Sussex Premier League leaders East Grinstead.
Facing a Grinstead side which has won 10 of its 11 completed league matches this season with a full strength team would’ve been hard enough, but without the likes of Stuart Collier, captain Johnathan Haffenden, Tim Hambridge and James Walker, Bexhill’s task was made even tougher.
Bexhill were asked to bat after losing the toss and were soon in deep trouble. Apart from Lewis, the other members of the top five were all dismissed without scoring to leave them 6-4.
Things didn’t get much better thereafter. Numbers six, seven and eight fell for a single each as Bexhill slumped to 19-6 and then 28-7.
Lewis stood tall amid the chaos at the other end and found an ally in number nine Ian May. Together they stemmed the tide by putting on 40 for the eighth wicket until May was bowled for a valuable nine.
The ninth wicket went down a run later, but Bexhill kept going. Last man Martin Phillimore held up an end in support of Lewis and they added 26 for the final wicket before Lewis’s valiant knock was ended when he was bowled by Ollie Graham.
It was Lewis’s first league fifty for Bexhill after two scores in the 40s earlier in the season and he struck 11 boundaries along the way.
All five of Grinstead’s bowlers were among the wickets. New ball pair Brad Evans (3-26 from 13 overs) and Ian Sturmer (3-22 off 10) led the way with three apiece, Graham picked up 2-19 off 4.1, and Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Bradley Hatchett claimed one each.
Grinstead proceeded to knock off the runs in 17 overs, although Bexhill took three wickets to at least ensure they didn’t head home without a point.
The home side advanced to 46 before that man Lewis (2-0-16-1), this time with the ball, bowled Will Adkin via an inside edge for 21. And Bexhill gained their point when Benji Hammond (4-1-17-1) had Hudson-Prentice caught by Shawn Johnson for nine.
Josh Beeslee (3-0-22-1) grabbed the third wicket, trapping Hatchett leg before for 41 with Grinstead needing two for victory. The formalities were duly completed just before the rain set in, with Graham finishing 17 not out.
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 14 matches): 1 East Grinstead 334pts, 2 Roffey 315, 3 Cuckfield 273, 4 Horsham 262, 5 Preston Nomads 227, 6 HASTINGS PRIORY 220, 7 Middleton 213, 8 Brighton & Hove 201, 9 BEXHILL 113, 10 Ansty 106.