Eastbourne take a crucial step to safety

Eastbourne v Bexhill.
Eastbourne v Bexhill.

EASTBOURNE skipper Mark Tomsett hailed his team on and off the pitch as they beat both the weather and Bexhill to ease their Sussex League relegation worries.

Heavy overnight rain on Friday had thrown the crucial clash between the leagues bottom two teams in extreme doubt.

However, a major mopping up operation at The Saffrons, co-ordinated by groundsman Jamie Ramsden, ensured the match went ahead - the only league game to finish.

Then, on the pitch, thanks to a second wicket stand of 109 between the captain and Sussex star Ben Brown, Eastbourne made the most of being putting into bat.

The hosts totalled a creditable 224 for nine in a match reduced to 100 overs, with the first batting side restricted to a maximum of 53 overs.

Despite two breaks for rain, one when Bexhill were nine wickets down, Eastbourne managed to skittle out their coastal neighbours for just 91 runs to ensure a morale-boosting 133-run victory.

“It was nice as captain for once on Sunday morning to have won a game,” reflected Mark. “It is a great feeling and hopefully we can get into the habit of winning once again.”

A week earlier after a demoralising five wicket defeat at Horsham, which had left Eastbourne rooted at the bottom of the table, Tomsett had given him team a strong talking to in the dressing room afterwards.

He accused his team-mates of playing “soft cricket” and rolling over to the opposition having lost the winning mentality. Those stern words seemed to have been taken to heart by the side who played some tremendous attacking cricket to leave fellow basement battlers Bexhill hanging on the ropes throughout.

“I warned the guys that we had little more than half the season left and if we carried on playing the way we were then we would be playing Division One cricket next summer,” he said.

“The guys responded superbly, with bat and ball.”

With a trip to fourth from bottom East Grinstead awaiting this weekend, followed by a Saffrons meeting with fellow strugglers Brighton a week later, Tomsett knows his team face a crucail next couple of weeks which could shape their season.

Win both those matches, and with a game in hand, the Eastbourne skipper firmly believes his team can ease away from the drop zone.

“I firmly believe we can avoid relegation,” he said. “I think we have got too much quality in our team to do down.

“You just have to look at the other sides in the league, and although it is only on paper I reckon we have got more match winners.

“We just know that we have got to keep on working hard for the rest of the season. I have no doubt in my own mind that we will pull away and if we play to our potential then we will be half way up the league table by the end of the season.”

Mark Tomsett was among a group of players and officials who gathered at The Saffrons from 8.30am on Saturday morning to ensure the game went ahead.

Jamie Ramsden’s father, Trevor, who is a groundsman at Sidley Cricket Club, came down to lend a hand along with a couple of Sidley players, plus Eastbourne first teamers David Twine and Aaron Mullins.

The wicket and outfield was soaked, but thanks to their efforts and with the umpires’ approval, the game went ahead an hour late.

“It was important to both teams that we got this game on to get the points,” added the skipper.