2009 - Dave Robinson and Mick Armstrong (AU)
2010 - Mick Armstrong (Dave briefly returned for a few games) (AU)
2011 - Justin Creed (AU)
2012-14 - Mick Armstrong (AU)
2015 - No overseas player (Mick played a bit but considered a resident)
2016 - Sanchit Batra and Nikhil Grover (IN)
2017 - Manideep Singh (IN)
2018 - Mithelesh Rawat (IN)
2019 - Morné Louw (RSA)
There have been a few changes to our club since the two villages merged 20 years ago. The colts’ section is the prime reason why we have climbed the Sussex leagues over the years but another factor has undoubtedly been our overseas players. They’ve been coming here (or staying here) for ten years now so we thought it high time to assess their value. Some of our foreign types were already residents here before they came to the club like Brian Chambers and Jon Taylor but all of the players listed above have come over to play for us and have improved our sides with them being in the team.
We started ten years ago with two strange Victorians from Down Under. Contrasting chaps - one a snarling no nonsense bowling all rounder (think that’s what he was) who contrasted sharply with a laid back bulldozing wicket keeping batsman. Back in those days, we were a big fish in a fairly mediocre league by today’s standards. There was the odd closely competitive game but one or two others which were not. As today, overseas players couldn’t both play 1s so Dave Robinson turned out for Martin Glover’s 2s whilst Mick Armstrong played for the 1s. They were both clearly too good for the leagues we were in and in those days, amused Chilt adults batted at the other end or fielded whilst the pair of them rinsed the oppo. Back home, Mick bowled fast and batters nicked off. Over here in the old Sussex League, he soon learned to target the stumps as none of the opposing batsmen could get near the ball... They were better than what we had but not so much better that they were poached by better clubs. Why would they want to go anyway? Like many other players, they fell in love with us and everyone benefitted. At the end of the season, Mick needed five wickets in the final Sunday game against Warnham to bag 100. In the event, he took none but I don’t think any adult player (not playing colts games) as ever come close to that. He also played 37 games that year. Dave will be best remembered for dismantling a Sunday attack at Midhurst having had only a few hours sleep. They had a sleepover at the Rec before a home SJCF match. Don’t think they won the next day because they’d all been up till the small hours playing games.
A year later, Mick was still around and just repeated what he did a year earlier. The kids were starting to come through in numbers by now and playing 1s and 2s. Even more than the older guys, they really blossomed and learned a few Aussie tricks to improve their games. In 2011, Mick returned home (which hadn’t been approved but we’ll let him off) and recommended another Victorian, Justin Creed, to us. Creedy was again a real asset to the batting line up and we won the Div 3 Invitation League that year much to Mick’s dissatisfaction as we hadn’t managed a title in his first two years.
By 2012, in Olympic year, Mick was back and eager to prove he could win us the title too. So we did! Division Two was bagged and we were into the old Invitation League Div 1 for the first time. In 2013 and 14, he gave us two more good years before his appearances started decreasing as he moved up to London. And all the while, the kids got older and better and better. It wasn’t just down to the coaching and by now, we had acquired characters like Jarvis, Howgate and Monday and those kids just kept on lapping up the wisdom of how to play the beautiful game.
We didn’t have an overseas in 2015 for various reasons but then we were into the Indians. Our connection to Rohit at Roffey proving invaluable as the Chairman initially acquired two batsmen (one who could keep) followed by a Sikh spinner and a player destined for the IPL from Delhi. Like Dave and Mick before them, Nik Grover and Sachit Batra were two contrasting guys who joined us in 2016 for our only (thus far) cross Sussex division where we played the likes of Rye, Seaford, Glynde and Hellingly in our first County League season. With Henfield, Southwater and Slinfold, it was probably the toughest league we’ve been in esp with all the travelling. I remember JEM had a great year that season and his dad’s captaincy was genius in many tight situations. The more intense and focused Sanchit kept wicket for us but if we are honest, struggled with the pressure that he and others put on himself to score consistently. (He has played this season in Roffey 2s title winning team). Nikhil was the more carefree swashbuckling batsman who predominantly played 2s as Sanch could keep and we needed a keeper in the 1s. Like Dave before him, he terrorised many bowling attacks.
Year Player % of 1st XI runs % of 1st XI wickets
2009 Mick Armstrong 16% 40%
2011 Justin Creed 11%
2016 Sanchit Batra 14%
2017 Manideep Singh 11%
2018 Mithelesh Rawat 22%
2019 Morné Louw 24% 25%
Howgate will always tell you stats are only part of the story eg Mick vs Sanchit. Different teams, different times but no one can dispute that without Morné, Steyning may well still be in Division 3 and we probably wouldn’t be. Who can say who would have come in his place. Incidentally 2009 was Brian Chambers’ last regular 1st XI season so Mick’s %s that year are not bad!
If they were giving out prizes for charm and being a top bloke, Manideep Singh would be a clear leader in our overseas category. A lovely gentle guy who developed a taste for cider, he fell in love with the Jarvises and the Tears. You could argue he wasn’t our most successful overseas but the whole club loved him and rejoiced when he scored big or took wickets with his spin in his one season here two years ago. And the final Indian was Mithelesh Rawat or as Van Noort christened him, “Frank”. Mr Rawat was a fast bowling lower order batsman who got us out of a few holes when Ben Lucking and co couldn’t manage it. The scorebook showed we were more of a team last year because this season, more than any other since the Aussies arrived, we’ve relied on one man more than anyone. Morné has been a revelation. When he scored big or took wickets, we tended to win. When he failed, we tended to subside quickly. And will we ever need any more Indian players anyway now we have Bumraj?