Final day drama sees Burgess Hill promoted to highest ever standard

Kevin Ramsay hit 679 runs for Burgess Hiill this year
Kevin Ramsay hit 679 runs for Burgess Hiill this year

In 2019 Burgess Hill will be playing the highest standard they have ever played by gaining promotion on the final day, thanks to a 6 wicket win and a defeat for Portslade.

Sitting second in the league at the start of the day, Burgess Hill knew they would need some luck on their side to gain promotion by the end of day.

Knowing only 30 points would be enough for a challenge for the title they travelled to Brighton and Hove 2nd XI, who last week lost to Portslade.

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Having won the first 14 tosses this season, captain Joe Maskell has lost the last four and Brighton decided to bat first on a fresh wicket.

The wicket looked flat with a tinge of grass but certainly a batting day. Hill were looking for the ever-threatening Dan Strange to make some early in-roads and he set the tone early doors. Having beaten the bat on many occasions he finally got his rewards by bowling Luke Chafer for 3.

At the other end George Willett was again bowling exceptionally without much luck. Opener Duncan Jenkinson was batting hard and was supported well by Guy Williamson who was watchful to start but tried to up the scoring against Willett by scoring back to back boundaries.

Having both played Strange very watchfully it was the left arm spin of Karl Boffey who replaced Strange and with just his second ball broke the partnership. Williamson (28) tried to defend a full toss, but only managed to set a chance straight back to Boffey. At 50-2 Brighton looked well placed, but that quickly became 53-3 as Willett deservedly got the wicket of Kurt John who was caught by Tom Penfold for three at mid-wicket. Jenkinson was joined at this point by George Machan and they sat on 69-3 after 19 overs.

With four overs to go till drinks, the game could go either way.

One big over from Burgess Hill could rock Brighton, but if Brighton could hang in and build another partnership, 200 was possible. The big over came in the 20th, Captain Maskell was bowling and after some tight lines eventually had Jenkinson LBW for 17.

In his final appearance as captain for Brighton, Paul Hardwick joined Machan but it didn’t last long, just two balls in fact as Maskell had his stumps shacking with a fantastic delivery. Fergus Guppy then came in at 7, but he lasted just one ball as Maskell had him caught behind by Luke Vick for 0.

In one over Brighton had gone from 69-3 to 69-6 and staring at a below par score. That quickly became 71-7 as Jake Comaschi was run out by Tom Penfold after some poor communication from himself and Machan.

Drinks came after 23 overs and Burgess Hill knew they were in a fantastic position, they needed to pick up the last three wickets and wanted to get them quickly! Matt Charman was brought into the attack and was soon in the wickets.

Set batsman Machan was the last real hope for Brighton, but having got to 12, he went for a big shot and was bowled leaving Brighton 83-8. Strange was brought back into the attack to try and end the innings quickly and he did that in his last over by picking up the wicket of Alfie Harrison for 3. Dave Mates and Jonathan Goldstraw were the final pairing for Brighton and got Brighton up to 100 when Maskell picked up the final wicket. Brighton were all out for 100, with Maskell having figures of 6 overs, 1 maiden, 4 wickets for 10 runs.

Hill had done the first half of their job, having picked up their 10 bowling bonus points meaning a win would get 30 points and put pressure on Portslade. Tom Trowbridge was opening again with Ben Hopkins, having put on a 100-run partnership last week and they were both in good form.

They were both watchful and putting away the bad balls. The score was on 31 when the first wicket fell, pinch-hitter Hopkins was out LBW for 3 from 38 balls. Not quite the scoring rate he has been at this season! Kevin Ramsay joined Trowbridge and they both looked set. Ramsay was scoring quickly and hit some emphatic shots for 4. They took the score to 85 before Ramsay was adjudged LBW for 32, breaking the partnership.

Ian Simpson didn’t last long as he was LBW for 1 to Guy Williamson. With only 13 needed, Tom Penfold came to the crease and quickly hit a 4 before being out himself bowled for just 5. 85-1 became 95-4 very quickly and a few nerves were set in as everyone has witnessed many a Burgess Hill collapse! However, Karl Boffey came in and let Trowbridge finish the game with a lovely boundary as he finished with 41 not out. Burgess Hill won by six wickets and got the 30 points they needed.

Having finished at 4.30 Burgess Hill knew they would be waiting a while if they were to be crowned champions. News was filtering through that Portslade score 199-9 from their 45 overs and knew it would be a tough ask for Seaford to chase the runs.

At 6pm when everyone was back watching the 2nd team more news came through, Seaford going well at 168-5 from 36 overs. Only needing 32 from 9 overs. A few players and fans got a bit excited, but then Seaford lost a wicket it was a nervous wait. At this point there was 30 odd people watching the 2nd team and waiting for scores. At 6.23pm on Saturday the 1st September it was confirmed that Seaford had scored the 200 required meaning Burgess Hill were top of the league, winning promotion from Portslade by 16 points.

Chairman Mike Trowbridge said – ‘it’s a great achievement by everyone at the club. I cannot be prouder of the players and all who has contributed this season. 1999 was the last time we won a league title and there have been some hard times since then. This title is richly deserved by this true team who worked so hard for each other. Everyone who has played for Burgess Hill and supported the club’s growth and development during the previous decade deserves this moment we now have.

Captain Joe Maskell said: "I am just delighted to be 1st XI captain of a great team in a great club. We have done fantastically well to win so many games this season and fully believe we deserve everything we have achieved this season. The attitude from everyone has been outstanding. We just can’t wait to get going again next season."

Special mentions must go to Dan Strange who took a club record of 67 league wickets this season, which also made him the leading wicket taker in the county. Also Kevin Ramsay who scored an invaluable 679 league runs this season.