The first of the Sussex under 14 league matches took place on Sunday 25th May at an excellent Cuddington Golf Course in Surrey. In the league, Sussex, Kent and Surrey play each other three times with the winner of the league playing off against the winner of the other division (Hertfordshire, Essex and Hampshire) later in the year.
With 12 players in each team and a playing reserve, the logistics of getting 13 three balls off the tee with minimum disruption provide a challenge to the host county and club but all 39 boys played their parts in ensuring that it worked at Cuddington.
In the match up of the reserves, debut boy Josh Dance overcame his understandable first tee nerves to win comfortably against Kent but couldn’t manage a win against a strong Surrey boy. It was still an encouraging start to his county career.
In the match itself, a strangely out of sorts Charlie Hilton looked to be heading for a double defeat but rallied strongly to defeat Aadam Syed (Surrey) making his own day a little better. Kent had a strong start to the match with Charlie losing to Luke Welham and then Will Townsend losing to both Kent and Surrey but relief for Sussex was at hand with an excellent double win for Jake Stoneham and then for Tom Welch over Kent. Tom had been in command for most of both his matches but a determined finish from Thomas Spreadborough (Surrey) turned a possible win for Tom into a narrow loss. Jamie Dart found both his opponents on very good form and lost his matches early in the round but Kane Fernando secured another valuable two points with his win against Kent. He could do nothing to stop his Surrey opponent from securing a victory though. Ben Clarke had one of his rare off days and was easily beaten by both counties but despite his obvious disappointment he was still out on the course supporting his fellow players – good to see!
At that stage of the match, Team management (Ian and Ben Knight) were not smiling much but the young guns at the bottom of the order came through with a series of great results to lighten the afternoon.
First irrepressible Jack Holmwood, with a smile as wide as you can get, beat Surrey comfortably and then finished off Kent on the 17th, followed by the return to winning ways for Harvey Evans who had two good wins. Ollie Smith then showed his fighting spirit and great will to win by beating Kent and then coming back from a likely defeat by Surrey by winning the last two holes to secure a half. His momentum was helped by a fantastic long bunker shot and a single putt on the 17th to win that hole. Erik Anderberg was soon down in both his matches but hung on against Kent until the 17th hole which was a good effort. Finally, another new boy Zack Bacon showing no nerves at all won against Kent very easily but found his Surrey opponent a much tougher proposition. He finally went down on the by now infamous 17th hole but another very promising under 14 debut.
Final result was much as expected with Surrey beating both Sussex and Kent although it was a much improved result against them for Sussex. In the match between Sussex and Kent, despite the early unpromising scores, the later results helped Sussex to a narrow win.
Selecting a man of the match was tough but for his two wins playing at number 3 in the order, I have chosen Jake Stoneham. There is a special mention though for Jack, Harvey and Ollie for their outstanding performances.
Thanks to the host county – Surrey - for an excellent day and to Cuddington Golf Club for a great course in excellent condition and for granting access to 39 little tigers to show off their excellent games.
Thursday 29th in Kent is the next meeting of the three counties.
|Please click here for a match sheet.|