THE Sussex Cricket League table makes for gloomy reading for cellar dwellers Eastbourne who suffered a crushing five wicket defeat at the hands of Horsham on Saturday.
That makes it five defeats from 10 outings for Eastbourne with almost half the season gone, and the team facing a stiff relegation battle.
With both Luke Wells and Ben Brown in action for Eastbourne for the first time this season, it was hoped that the Saffrons club could put together a big total on their trip to Horsham.
But it was their fellow Sussex star, Pakistani left-arm paceman Naveed Arif Gondal, who took the honours. He bowled with superb control and kept the pressure on throughout his marathon 20-over effort.
By the time Eastbourne slipped to 47 for three, both the club’s Sussex men were out, along with skipper Mark Tomsett, so it was left to England under-19 player Callum Jackson to dig in and ensure that his side batted out their overs and made a decent score.
With Matt Green, he added 67 for the fourth wicket before Green fell for 25. Jackson was then dismissed for 42, after which Tom Johnson stepped in and made a brisk 24.
However, Eastbourne’s 160 for eight never looked like being enough on what is one of the best batting tracks in the county.
After Stuart Pulford struck early on for Eastbourne, John Burroughs and Gondal added 86 for the second wicket, the latter falling to Wells after making 50 in just 47 balls. That partnership ensured there was little chance of a dramatic turnround, and Horsham raced on to win by five wickets in just 32.1 overs.
There was better news for Eastbourne seconds who won their second game of the season in the late evening gloom at the Saffrons against Horsham.
Meanwhile, Eastbourne third XI made quick work of Heathfield Park to secure their second successive victory to move up to fourth place in the table.
Heathfield Park were put in to bat, and an excellent opening spell from Ben Barter and Henry Smith soon had them under pressure.
With runs hard to find, eventually the wickets began to fall. Cameron Smith picked up three victims with his offspin, and there was a wicket each for Ilham Mohammadi, Ian Marshall and Giles Robinson, before Barter returned to polish off the tail and end up with figures of four for 37.
With the weather threatening to interrupt proceedings, Eastbourne were delighted to dismiss Heathfield Park for just 150.
Eastbourne’s opening batsmen made sure the rain would not deny them victory, taking the attack to Heathfield in a brutal fashion. Having faced his first eight balls without scoring, Matt Isepp went to fifty in the next 19 balls faced – eight of them going for four and three were sixes. He was eventually out in the 11th over for 55 with the score on 107.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Alex Pollard was making immaculate progress. It took him 44 balls to reach his half-century, and he would eventually finish undefeated on 63 in an innings that included 11 fours and a six. Chris Borsoi made a breezy 19 not out to ensure Eastbourne won by nine wickets in just 17.1 overs.
l Full league tables - page 38