Horley Under-14s will contest the final of the Sussex Junior Cricket Festival Under-14s Bowl next month after earning maximum points from their two Bowl matches which escaped the rain last week – and seeing one of their players score a maiden century.
Horley had been due to play on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday but the last two games were a washout for all 12 teams involved in the competition. However, Horley were top of the table thanks to great wins in the first two games and so qualified to play second-placed Rottingdean in the final, which should have been played on Sunday but had to be postponed due to the rain.
Christian Kelly was the star of the show in Horley’s opening win over West Chiltington and Thakeham on Monday 6 August as he hit 101 not out, becoming only the second player from any Horley team – adult or colts – to reach three figures this season.
Kelly’s previous highest score was 53, and the 14-year-old’s maiden century was crucial in allowing Horley to build an impressive total of 262 for five declared from 35 overs.
He opened the batting with Udith Molanguri, who was out for 44. Further down the order Ben Cooper made 41 and Zack Collins 20.
When West Chiltington and Thakeham replied Aryan Patel took three wickets for 13 from 4.1 overs, Bailey Warren took two for 12 from three overs, Collins two for 30 from six overs and there was one wicket each for Freddie Holland, Evan Grimwood and Molanguri.
Having wrapped up that 122-run win, with maximum bonus points, Horley entertained East Grinstead the following day and picked up another 20 points, this time winning by just two wickets.
East Grinstead batted first and were bowled out for 214 in 40 overs. Josh Barrott top-scored with 52, Collins and Cooper took three wickets each for Horley, Grimwood took two and Holland and Molanguri one each.
Kelly made 39 this time before he was run out, Collins top-scored with 58 while skipper Patel made 47. Warren and Shae Meacher saw Horley home under great pressure from a vocal East Grinstead side, with the innings ending at 218 for eight from 36 overs.
This Horley age-group side won the Sussex Festival Shield when they were under-11s, moved up a tier to the top-level Festival Bowl and were the losing finalists in the U13s competition last year and are now through to the showpiece once again.