Heath secure promotion to Division 2 despite defeat

Haywards Heath celebrate promotion on Saturday
Haywards Heath celebrate promotion on Saturday

After a week working through all permutations and scouring over the league handbook Heath entered their game with Burgess Hill knowing that six first innings bonus points would be enough to secure promotion to Division 2, with a win bringing the league title along with it.

Following a week of poor weather it was no surprise that Burgess Hill decided to bowl first.

Johnny Phelps and Chris Blunt made a solid start by putting on 45 before the first wicket fell in an eventful over that saw Phelps strike two powerful fours down the ground, get dropped at long on, and then be stumped for 31 off the bowling of Joe Maskell.

Callum Smith and Blunt (22) had taken the score on to 62 but the dismissal of Blunt by Martyn Box triggered a nervy spell for Heath that was worsened when Smith was caught in the next over from the bowling of Billinghay, who soon followed it up with the wicket of Ed Long.

With the score on 76 Stephen Goulds became Billinghay’s third scalp and thoughts within the home support had firmly turned away from victory and on to the primary aim of reaching 160. As has been the case on numerous occasions this season players in the middle and lower order responded brilliantly to the pressure. Matt O’Keeffe made 18 to start the job and Tim Upchurch played a seemingly nerveless innings of 27 to bring Heath back into the game.

When he and Tashaffi Shams were dismissed, the father and son pairing of Dave and Josh Woodfield picked up the task and took Heath to within one run of their goal only for a breakdown in communication to result in Dave being run out. Luckily for Heath Josh was on strike and managed to get the single needed to secure promotion - the excitement was clearly all too much for number eleven Everett as he was dismissed in the next over - Heath all out for 160.

Given the conditions this looked to be a competitive score, particularly as Burgess Hill were under significant pressure themselves, needing a 30 point win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation. The first wicket came soon enough courtesy of David Everett and a fine catch in the deep by Upchurch, but the second took a little longer as Hill’s best players Ramsey and Trowbridge formed a partnership. Ramsey (20) fell to Phelps with the score on 58 and Trowbridge (21) was trapped lbw by Smith soon after. Phelps slowed the momentum of the Hill innings further still by bowling five maidens in his 9 overs and the pressure resulted in two more wickets, picked up by Everett and Smith.

Burgess Hill now needed another 80 runs for victory, and in a similar way to Heath did in their innings, managed to build partnerships in the lower order that got them over the line. Joe Maskell (14), Tom Penfold (24) and Luke Vick (20*) all stepped up for the visitors and set the stage for Andrew Ifill to finish the game in style with a 6 down the ground in the penultimate over. The loss certainly took the shine off the day for Heath as reports of a win by Chichester meant that they had taken the league title, but promotion back into Division 2 after 5 seasons in Division 3 ensured all at the club celebrated well into the night.