Eastbourne Cricket Club will meet Hastings and St Leonards Priory under the floodlights at Hove after booking their place in the Grey Nicholls Twenty20 Cup final on Sunday.
Mark Tomsett’s men cruised to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Premier League club Cuckfield to set up a date at Sussex’s Probiz County Ground on Sunday, August 18.
The win was more convincing than many may have imagined. While Eastbourne were the in-form side, their visitors have been plying their trade very respectably in the top flight, currently enjoying a mid-table standing.
On a good wicket, Cuckfield won the toss and opted to bat, bringing opening pair Oliver Altendorf and Gregory Wisdom to the crease.Both were dismissed for eight and ten runs respectively and, with the wicket of Tom Cummins in between for 20, Cuckfield suddenly found themselves on 46-3.
Hereafter, wickets tumbled at regular intervals. Keshav Maharaj top-scored for his side with 45 but once he fell, bowled by Stuart Pulford, the rest of the order crumbled and the remaining seven batsmen put on just 27 runs.
With two balls of the innings left, Cuckfield were skittled out for 125, with Pulford registering the best bowling figures of the afternoon with 3-16. David Twine and Tomsett also pitched in with two wickets a-piece.
Eastbourne needed just five batsmen to pass the tally, with captain Tomsett posting an unbeaten 77 from 62 balls to help his men on their way to 127-3.
Fellow opener Toby Finzel fell for 14, while Dan Wells got a knock of 22.
James Walker went for a duck, allowing Matthew Cooke to come in and hit a useful six runs to nudge the home side over the target with two overs to spare.
Elated skipper Tomsett said, “It was fantastic. I’d say it was probably the most all-round, complete performance we’ve produced for a long time. We were a class above Cuckfield for the entire game and everyone was really fired up for it.
“It’s not every day you get an opportunity to play at Hove so I just told everyone to give it their best. Even if we came off with nothing, at least we’d know we gave 100 per cent. To win by two overs, at a canter really, is a great achievement.
“We gave it everything and we’re absolutely delighted to get to the final, which I’m sure will be a great experience for everyone.”
Eastbourne will have to pull off another Premier League scalp if they’re to lift the trophy, with local rivals Hastings now all that stands in their way.
Tomsett added, “It will be a special occasion. We’re hoping for a big crowd - everyone who’s associated with the club and from a town that loves cricket.
“Hastings are a lot like us in that they have a lot of local players. It will be a local derby and we will give them all the respect they deserve.”