Slinfold's 'team spirit' hailed after title-winning campaign
Steve Haines hailed Slinfold’s ‘team spirit’ after the Lyons Road outfit were crowned champions of Division 4 West.
Fold recorded 13 wins, four losses and a tie as they finished 28 points ahead of second-placed Henfield and sealed promotion to Division 3 West.
Haines said: “We are delighted to be league champions in a tough division. The team spirit has been excellent throughout and everyone has contributed to our success.
“It’s been great to see the younger players coming through and playing a pivotal role at the club, both in the first and second team.
“Dan Smith has been a welcome addition to the club. He has raised the standards of everyone playing around him. His performances have also been excellent particularly with the bat, leading the division for runs scored with 762 runs.
“Mushal Murad, Sean Overton, Dan Graycon, Adam Goacher and Imran Shah have also batted well throughout the season.
“Our depth in batting and consistency of scoring over 200 runs every match has made the difference.
“Imran Shah has been our star bowler throughout the season, and fully deserves to be the league top wicket-taker. Mo Hussain, Dan Smith and Atif Hussain have also been excellent with the ball, all taking over 24 wickets.
“The club is thriving and we look forward to returning to Division 3 West next season."
After electing to bat the hosts started brightly but skipper Faisel Rehman (12) was caught off Mubbasar Hussain (1-38) at 41-1.
Fellow opener Fazlan Nizamdeen (56) and Bob Homani (91 off 86 balls) put on a 104-run second-wicket partnership as they looked to take the game away from Slinfold.
The partnership was broken as Smith (1-35) bowled Nizamdeen.
Paul Clifford (17) helped support Homani as they put on 56 at four before Clifford was trapped lbw by Shah (2-44) with the total at 201-3.
Shah then had Homani out lbw in his next over to see Crawley at 209-4.
Abdul Khan (50* off 40 balls) and Prabh Singh (38*) combined to make 92 for the fifth wicket as they guided the hosts to 301-4 from their allotted 45 overs.
The weather then took hold, meaning Slinfold were set a revised target of 228 from 33 overs.
Fold had to score quickly but Goacher (a run-a-ball 25) was trapped lbw off the bowling of Sudess Ali (1-43) with the score at 29.
Fellow opener Shah (13) was then stumped off Aqeel Imtiaz (1-28) as he looked to add to Slinfold’s total of 55.
Smith (59) and Murad (21) put on 50 for the third wicket but the partnership could not be sustained as Murad was caught off Nizamdeen (1-33).
Graycon (27) helped support Smith as the pair put together a 55-run partnership at four but Smith was run out trying to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Graycon then suffered the same fate as he was run out by keeper Homani at 187-5.
Mo Hussain was run out for a first-ball duck, again by Homani, as Slinfold desperately tried to get the required rate.
Fold captain Haines (46 off 23) tried his hardest to will his team to victory but they ultimately fell short of the adjusted total by five runs.
On the final day defeat, Haines said: “Luckily we saved our worst fielding and bowling performance of the season for this match with the league title already wrapped up.
“Crawley knew they had to win to avoid relegation and batted well, particularly early in the innings. We were always fighting to restrict them to less than 300 and there were a number of dropped catches which cost us.
“We felt confident of chasing 300 as our batting has been our strength all season. Unfortunately there was a lengthy rain interruption which reduced our innings.
“Dan Smith and Dan Graycon were going well before both were run out attempting quick singles.
“We fell short by five runs and this was a great effort given the run rate adjustment.”