Well with a 100% record entering day 4 of the festival we today hosted East Preston at the club for what turned out to be as competitive a match as previous meetings between the 2 sides have proven to be over recent seasons.
The good news is that Middleton remain unbeaten after a draw which demonstrated the importance to East Preston in not losing to our table topping team.
Result: Match Drawn
East Preston 212-7: Matt Lee 3-33
Middleton 181-6: Jack Dawling 94 not out, Ben Peach 28, Matt Pearce 15.
Winning the toss East Preston elected to bat on a pitch drying out from the rain of the previous evening.
However after 10 overs with the score on 51-4 they were probably wondering if it was the right decision as Matt Lee dismantled there top order with his most devastating spell of bowling of the week from the sea end.
With wickets tumbling it was left to East Preston’s county opening bat to keep the innings together which he did in some style scoring the first ton, indeed fifty, against Middleton in the week.
Supported by Ben Taylor (1-34) and our guest player, George Briance (2-16), East Preston’s batsmen toiled, eventually declaring on 212-7 after their maximum 42 overs allocation.
Middleton took the decision to juggle their batting order from previous games, opening with Ben Peach and George, who both started brightly until George was bowled in the 7th over.
This gave the impetus to East Preston and before long a further 2 wickets went down bringing Matt Pearce to the crease with Jack Dawling, who from his first ball had clearly made his mind up that he was going to take the game to EP.
Jack produced an innings of great authority taking apart East Preston’s front line bowlers and putting their fielders under severe pressure with his shot placement and running between the wickets.
Excellent support at the crease was offered by Matt Pearce whose steadfast defence helped in building a 88 partnership which took Middleton to the verge of turning the match in their favour.
I say on the verge however unfortunately, with the game finely balanced with 8 overs remaining and Middleton requiring 65 runs, and with the early evening watching crowd increasing around the ground for what threatened to be an exciting finish, East Preston decided that the best way to stop us from scoring the required run rate was to shut up shop, put 8 fielders on the boundary and tempt Jack with scoring singles!
Result – game effectively over.
Middleton’s maximum allocation of 38 overs closed with the team on 181-6, with Jack unbeaten on 94 not out, and East Preston’s players celebrating a draw.
As with every game this week this indeed was a strong all round team performance with everyone playing their part – Jack Doe’s fielding was outstanding, Murray Carter and Charlie Maginnis were vibrant in the field as ever whilst Lewis Faint’s and Jake Miles’ bowling development continues to impress.
On the positive side this should be seen as a great compliment to our young team of the esteem gaining a draw against Middleton is held in and with our final game scheduled at Arundel tomorrow, weather permitting, Middleton are guaranteed at least 2nd place in the SJCF league whilst victory would leave our guys topping the group.
Quite simply a fantastic achievement.
Once again my thanks to all the parents for providing an exceptionally good tea for the boys over the past couple of days, to Pete for preparing another excellent wicket and to Nigel for his scoring assistance during the week.
Off to Arundel tomorrow – don’t forget your umbrella!