On a glorious sunny day at the end of July, the Sussex Martlets gathered at Arundel Castle for the third attempt at playing a game of cricket with Ditchling CC (the games for the two previous years having been cancelled).
Consternation avoided by the arrival of Ditching just before the start of play found the Martlets chairman Stuart Ritchie not only captaining his side but also umpiring for Ditchling, with the expert support of Paul Fuller at the other end and Roger Lusted in the scorebox. Ritchie won the toss and elected to bat with Martlets stalwart Michael Loveday and Martlets U23 player Jeremy Bushell opening for the Martlets.
Loveday and Bushell were slow to start scoring with 22 from the first 10 overs, but by sticking to the task in hand, they wore down the Ditchling bowlers. Bushell was first to his half century and was followed by Loveday. Both batted classically and aside from a couple of sharp chances to the keeper, it was a flawless display. The run rate accelerated, first to 5’s in the next 10 overs, then 7’s for the next 10 overs and finally 10’s for the last 7 overs. Bushell reached his century first before being strangled down the leg side for 110. Loveday followed with his century at 102 not out – a tremendous achievement given Michael’s form going into this match. Short cameos for Darryl Rebbetts (inevitably out first ball after developing pad rash after two and a half hours waiting to bat) and Rob Bell survived the final four balls before Ritchie declared on 242 for 2 after 37 overs.
Tea taken, the Martlets took to the field and opened with Matt Sawyer from the Castle end and William Forster from the Park end. Sawyer was metronomic and tied down the Ditchling batters. Forster was more variable struggling with his length, but when hitting a full length, he was unplayable as Paul Ford found having his off stump pegged back. Doug Porter was joined by Peter “Chef” Cook and Ditchling moved to their half century before Forster drew Porter into a skied shot well taken by Loveday above his head. Wickets fell regularly to Matt Sawyer, guest Sean Connell, Martlets stalwart Peter Hartland and Joe Waylett – his best being a catch at deep long off by Ritchie to get out John Lear on 37 runs, the leading batsman for Ditchling. Rob Bell captured the final wicket to deprive Rebbetts of the chance to bowl and the Ditchling innings closed on 152 all out in 31.2 overs.
It was an excellent day of cricket at Arundel Castle enjoyed by each side – and a great opportunity for the Ditchling cricketers to play at one of the finest cricket grounds in England.
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