Billingshurst Cricket Club had a weekend to remember with a thrilling match against a Sussex XI coming hot on the heels of the 1st XI’s promotion to the Sussex Premier League.
After securing their berth in the top tier of club cricket in Sussex with a win over Goring on Sea on Saturday, Billingshurst hosted Michael Yardy’s Sussex XI at Jubilee Fields on Sunday.
More than 500 spectators turned out to bask in the sunshine and watch Sussex overcome Billingshurst in a tightly contested 25 overs-per-side game, which formed part of the ex-England player’s benefit year.
Yardy’s XI, featuring stars Chris Nash, Ben Brown, Chris Liddle, Craig Cachopa, Will Beer, Matt Machan and Harry Finch batted first and knocked up 160 all out off 24.5 overs.
The wickets were shared out amongst the ‘hurst bowlers, while Ben Brown proved the mainstay of the Sussex XI batting, scoring 42 before holing out in the deep in the final over.
Billingshurst, who were being guest managed by England wicketkeeper Matt Prior for the day, got off to a really strong start in reply, with Scott Stratton (50) and Mike Burroughs (55) taking the score to 105-1 before the batting fell away and Billingshurst subsided to 145 all out.
Chris Nash took 3-11, while the game was rounded off by colt Tom Alexander, 13, who came on as a substitute bowler for the Sussex XI in the final over to take two wickets, including that of his red-faced dad, Jon.
Billingshurst captain Ben Williams said: “It was a fantastic day all round for families, cricket fans and Billingshurst Cricket Club.
“The Sussex lads were a credit to Mike Yardy who is obviously a really influential player down at Hove. It was an honour to play against them and be involved in the whole day.
“To have a weekend like this with us winning promotion and then playing Sussex just doesn’t happen. It was a really good finish to the game with us coming up just 15 runs short.
“Thanks to Matt Prior as well for his contribution to the day. He’s a role model for youngsters and was a fantastic ambassador for the day.
“It was also great to see Chairman Jim Burroughs at the game after his recent illness. He has done such a lot for the club, which without him wouldn’t exist.”
Yardy, who was a key member of England’s T20 World Cup winning side in the West Indies with England in 2010, said: “It’s been a good day to come with Billingshurst getting promoted yesterday.
“I’m associated with Hastings and unfortunately they have just been relegated for the first time ever, so the two teams will be swapping leagues.”
Yardy is supporting mental health charity Mind and the Rockinghorse Children’s Charity – the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton – during his benefit year.
He said: “The benefit year has gone really well. I have been supported by the club and obviously Billingshurst today and lots of different companies and sponsors who have supported all the events. I can’t thank everyone enough for what they have done over the year.
“I have done a lot of work with Mind this year raising awareness of mental health and I want to support them as much as possible because I think they do a great job for that.
“The other charity I’m involved with is Rockinghorse. They do an absolutely brilliant job for children. I was able to go down and see the work they do when my son had a couple of small operations there. The work the physios do there and the rapport and relationships they have with the kids is special. They do an absolutely brilliant job for children.”
Yardy, who has played for Sussex since 1999 and has 42 England caps, took part in a coaching session with youngsters from Billingshurst before the main event, while Sussex mascot Sharky was also on hand to entertain the crowd.