WORTHING Cricket Club sealed the Sussex League Division 2 title on Saturday and with it promotion to the Premier Division – albeit in dramatic fashion.
Worthing finished as champions by a single point after crashing to a 10-wicket defeat over Saturday’s opponents Bexhill, who finished runners-up, in a nail-biting final day of the season.
A tactical declaration from Worthing captain Michael Gould after Worthing collapsed to 65-9 ensured they clinched promotion as it meant Bexhill could only take a maximum of 28 points from the game and not overtake them.
It almost saw Bexhill miss out on promotion completely but Glynde, who eventually finished third, missed out on the second promotion place by just one wicket as they were held to a draw by Haywards Heath.
Gould admitted his side had “scraped over the line” although believes they have proved worthy champions over the course of the season.
He said: “I am so proud of the club and the players as over 18 games of the season we have deserved it. I am ecstatic for the guys.
“The whole ambition was to go up and winning the league is a great bonus. It’s a great opportunity to play against the big boys in the Premier Division, and we have a lot of experience, so will hold our own.
“When we found out about 6.30pm we had won the league, we got the champagne out and had some great celebrations.
“I think we deserved it. To be where we are over the course of the season, we won six in a row which is a great thing to do and I can’t fault the boys, they have all done so well – but that is my opinion and I am sure some people will disagree because of my declaration.”
It was a case of nerves that got the better of Worthing, as, after winning the toss, they made just 65-9, with openers Gould (12) and Tim Dunn (16) the only two batsmen who made double figures, before Gould’s tactical move.
Bexhill’s Chris Topp (3-7) and Mark Steketee (2-14) led the way with the ball, before opening batsmen Malcolm Johnson (30 not out) and Callum Guest (26 not out) took the home side to victory at 69 without loss from just 10.2 overs.
Gould defended his declaration decision and added: “They were surprised at first, but, at the end of the day, you need to look out for number one.
“I admit we haven’t been great over the past four or five weeks and we have clung on.
“But it’s great for the whole club as we have all had great seasons.
“It’s been eight years since the club were in the Premier Division, and, having dominated the league throughout the season, I am very happy and proud of the whole side, especially as it’s my first season here.”