Skipper Askew 'feared for player safety' on 'dangerous' Crawley pitch

Littlehampton skipper James Askew. Picture by Derek Martin
Littlehampton skipper James Askew. Picture by Derek Martin

James Askew criticised the ‘dangerous’ pitch Littlehampton Cricket Club encountered at Crawley on Saturday.

Several of Sussex League Division 4 West leaders Littlehampton’s players took hits to the head and blows to the body in the fiery encounter.

Despite the difficult conditions faced, Littlehampton managed to post 188-8 off their 53 overs after being stuck in.

Crawley came up short in the reply, making 166-8 in the remaining 47 overs.

Captain Askew - whose side’s eight match winning streak was ended - credited his players for the way they fought in testing conditions.

He said: “It was disappointing to only draw the game but I can’t fault my team.

“After losing the toss and being stuck in it was always going to be difficult.

“It was a great performance with the bat to get to 188 on a pitch that was simply dangerous and unplayable.

“I can’t credit my team enough as three players took blows to the head and most to the body. I thought it was a disgrace that the umpires did not abandon the game and compromised player safety.

“We then got off to a poor start with the ball, before Ryan (Budd) gave us a great chance taking seven wickets but we just couldn’t get over the line.”

The match started at an earlier time of 11.30am with an extended interval so players from both teams could watch England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden.

Littlehampton’s batsman faced a barrage from Crawley’s attack.

Opener Thomas Lee (30), Michael Askew (27), skipper James Askew (25) and an unbeaten 29 from number nine from Nathan Perry saw Littlehampton to a defendable total. they managed to post 188-8 off 53 overs.

Crawley’s bowlers caused Littlehampton problems, with Aqeel Imtiaz, Razwan Hussain and Fazlan Nizamdeen all picking up two wickets each.

Littlehampton were looking to make it nine successive victories but they couldn’t achieve that feat - despite the best efforts of Ryan Budd.

Budd finished with superb figures of 7-43 but that was not enough to see Littlehampton to victory.

Crawley opener and skipper Faisal Rahman (50) lead the way for his team.

Abdul Khan ended the innings unbeaten on 166-8 as Crawley reached 166-8 off 47 overs.

Table-toppers Littlehampton, whose lead at the top was cut to 33 points after the latest round of fixtures, host second from bottom strugglers Middleton 2nd XI on Saturday.

Skipper James Askew added: “We move on to Middleton after a little blip but we have put ourselves in a good position and now we have to bounce back with a win. We need to get back to our best.”

Crawley player Razwan Hussain rubbished claims the pitch had been heavily watered in the build-up and said: "Due to the really good weather we have had in recent weeks the pitches are really dry and hard.

"We watered the pitch twice in the week so do not know how Littlehampton believe it was watered heavily before the game.

"If this was to be the case then it would have been too wet to play on. If it still hadn’t dried then why did the umpires have no objection to starting play earlier then the normal scheduled time at 11.30am?

"If we did not water the pitch then the wicket would of been dangerous to play on, but we made sure we had a wicket in the best possible shape within our possible abilities to provide as our wickets are prepared by the council and not ourselves.

"We did not use our full pace bowling attack and if we wanted to prepare a dangerous wicket and exploit it we would not have watered the pitch during the week and used our full pace attack to bowl.

"The way I see this is that both teams played on that wicket, both teams were not bowled out in their innings and both teams scored a combined total of over 350 runs in the day. If this pitch was heavily watered and dangerous then how did we manage to have such a good game?

"This was Littlehampton’s first draw this season, they could not manage to beat us as they may have thought they would be able to and this has stopped their winning streak, deeply hurting them and they are looking for any excuse to cover this up. They should be happy with what they got out of the game and move forward, just like we have."