Aldridge Academy (188-7 in 50 overs; T Morrissey 65; M Trubshaw 4-52) beat Sussex Martlets (129 in 33.2 overs; H Clark 30; W Sheffield 3-12) by 59 runs
Given the scale of last year’s defeat in this fixture, a 59-run loss can probably be described as progress. The match ought to have been even closer but no member of the Martlets team took on the responsibility of anchoring the chase after restricting the academy to a below-par total.
Hosting the Martlets at their impressive new facilities in Falmer, the academy won the toss and elected to bat knowing that chasing teams would be faced with a pitch offering prodigious turn.
The Martlets new-ball attack of Jano Moller, Pevensey’s impressive overseas signing, and Ben Walker, making his debut, prevented the academy making a fast start and deserved better than their wicketless spells. Harry Clark, a new recruit to the Martlets for the 2017 season, picked up a wicket with his first ball, finishing with an impressive 2-27 from eight overs and apparently not breaking sweat despite bowling eight overs at the height of the late May heatwave.
Josh Burrows was economical for four overs, then horribly expensive for two, at which point the tandem spin attack of Mark Trubshaw (4-52) and Scott Kojak (0-37), another new recruit, toiled with control and perhaps even a little guile.
T Morrissey’s 65 was the backbone of the Academy innings and although W Sheffield struck a few lusty blows in the closing overs, at no point were the batting team allowed to cut loose. Had three relatively simple catches not been put down (two by Burrows, one by Peter Lamb), the final score of 188 might even have been 40 fewer.
The fact that the Martlets reply never bloomed is because Sheffield nipped it in the bud. Opening the bowling down the hill and with the wind at his back, the fast bowler dismissed openers James Cruickshank and Jens Richardson for single figures and also took the wicket of Bashir Khan, an Afghan refugee and fine cricketer who was gratefully received by the Martlets on a single-day loan from the Academy.
Lamb raised Martlets spirits with one heady over in which he drove five consecutive boundaries off M Graves – all between wide mid-on and extra cover. And there were nuggety performances by Clark (30) and Moller (23) but wickets fell with alarming consistency to the Academy spinners, A O’Brien (2-35), L O’Brien (2-30) and Morrissey (2-8).
Defeat was confirmed in the 34th over – but given that the Martlets have improved by 76 runs on last year’s performance, at this rate the team are due to win by about 30 runs next year. Naturally.
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