Tropical temperatures marked week 11 of the AJ Sports Surrey Championship, which left teams happily warming to their task. Richard Spiller surveys the Premier Division action
Sunbury v East Molesey
Few rivalries are fought as keenly as the battle of the two sides divided by a short stretch of the River Thames.
So East Molesey took especial enjoyment from completing a double over Sunbury, following their narrow 16-run victory in May with a more clear-cut success by 77 runs.
That looked unlikely when they slid to 85-8 after choosing to bat first, Liam Scott (4-29) and Vishal Manro (4-34) the main dangers. It took Jamie Southgate’s unbeaten 51, aided by Jonny Fawcett (22) in a ninth wicket stand worth 38, for them to reach 155 all out in the 56th over.
Yet when push came to shove Sunbury’s batting failed them, Andy Westphal removing Sam Burgess from the first ball of the reply and with youngster Toby Porter (2-10) sending the hosts spinning to 12-5, which included Surrey’s Nico Reifer for a sixth-ball duck. Westphal’s 10 overs brought him 5-25, left-arm spinner Fawcett (3-10) doing the rest to finish off the hosts for a miserable 74. Kristian Baumgartner’s 24 was the modest highest score, his side just 30 points off the drop zone while Moles remain top if only by two points.
Wimbledon v Sutton
If lowly Sutton ponder how to catch a break in their fight to avoid relegation, then a word with Tom Cooper might help.
The wicketkeeper took five catches in Wimbledon’s 130-run victory, which followed their eight-wicket success in the first leg of the Thameslink derby back in May.
Getting anything out of the game looked unlikely for Sutton after they inserted their hosts and saw them amass 299-9 in the maximum 66 overs, at least giving themselves as much time as possible through a rapid over-rate which saw them bowl 40 of them by lunch. Jonathon Webb (71), Jack Boyle (84) and David Scott (63)f provided the bulk of that total, skipper Sam Seadon’s 4-53 supported by Rehan Ratnasapabathy (3-60).
Not for the first time, Sutton were offered hope by their top-order, Ratnaspabathy (65) and wicketkeeper Josh Blake (53) adding 120 for the second wicket, but the rest folded in familiar style to be all out for 169. Scott underlined his all-round worth by claiming 5-27 in 11 overs.
That kept Wimbledon in second place, trailing East Molesey by just two points, while Sutton are now 55 points off safety and may soon need binoculars to see the rest.
Weybridge v Malden Wanderers
A top-order failure set the tone for Malden Wanderers on the way to being crushed by eight wickets at Weybridge.
South African opener Zac Elkin – having made a trio of hundreds and three other half-centuries – could make only 10 and Surrey’s Cameron Steel fell for a sixth-ball duck to leave the visitors 19-3. Only Raleh Jafri (37) and Joe Lavender (30) made much impact on the way to being dismissed for 155 in the 58th over. Seamer Brent Kay and off-spinner Phil Mann claimed three wickets apiece.
That was never likely to trouble Weybridge, Joe Lavender removing Northamptonshire opener Ben Curran for 13 before a second wicket partnership worth 83 all but ended the game. Sarel Erwee, shortly to join up with South Africa’s Test tourists, hit six fours and three sixes in making 52 before being bowled by leg-spinner Steel but Nathan Tilley (69no) proved immovable. He was assisted by Craig Meschede (20no) in cantering home.
It was the ideal way for Weybridge to bounce back from a 190-run trouncing at Ashtead seven days earlier, leaving them third and 19 points off the summit. For Wanderers the story is starker, sitting ninth and now 30 points from safety.
Reigate Priory v Ashtead
It took a superb unbeaten 120 from Matthew Breetzke for Ashtead to defy Priory and claim a draw.
The South African has now scored two tons plus four half-centuries, totalling 702 runs, playing a leading part in his adopted club’s struggle for survival.
Reigate’s choice to bat first looked questionable at 31-3 but Luke Haughton’s 51 at the top of the order set the stage for Ed Fluck to crack 147 from 156 balls. Further interventions from Sam Hall (28) and Jonathan Flanders (36no) enabled the hosts to declare after 62 overs with 298-6 on the board.
Any prospects of a chase had been expunged by the time Ashtead limped to 62-5 but Breetzke found worthy partners in Harry Williams (22) and Tom Homes (15), steering Ashtead to 201-8 from their 58 overs back in finishing with six points for a losing draw. Jacob McLoughlin claimed 4-27.
Priory’s 11 points took them back into the top half of the table, lying fourth, although they are now 35 points off the pace, Ashtead’s six being sufficient to keep them in seventh place.
Normandy v Esher
Victory by seven wickets pushed Normandy back into the top half of the table and ended Esher’s run of four victories.
Choosing to bat first rebounded on the visitors when they slipped to 27-3, Nicholas Smit launching a rescue bid by hitting 100 from 127 balls. A fourth wicket alliance worth 78 with David Brent (38) renewed their hopes of a substantial total but pacemen George Barlow (2-43) and Will Pereira (3-43) combined with left-arm spinner Viggy Venkateswaran’s 4-63 to dismiss Esher for 217 in the 52nd over.
Openers Olly Batchelor (41) and Joel Foster launched the reply in a stand worth 59, Chris Jones (46) enjoying a second wicket stand of 103 before Foster departed for 85 to ensure the chase was completed comfortably, defeat pushing Esher down two places to sixth.
Best of the rest
Two defeats in eight days have put the skids under Cranleigh’s bid for an immediate return to the Premier Division.
Straight from a shock reverse against lowly Stoke d’Abernon, they suffered a 101-run hammering at home to Valley End. That was despite having the visitors in strife at 22-3 after being inserted, former Gloucestershire all-rounder Ed Young sparking the revival by hitting 79 and captain Tom Nevin’s 57 at the end ensuring his side totalled 267 all out.
Removing Jack and Brad Scriven – whose explosive form early on played a major role in Cranleigh’s fine start – for nought and five respectively gave Valley End just the start they needed. And although South African Clyde Fortuin added 50 to his four wickets earlier on, Cranes could only muster 166 as Josh Dodd’s 6-54 reigned supreme.
That result enabled Guildford to stretch their lead from one point to 15 on the back of crushing Beddington by seven wickets.
On a Woodbridge Road pitch offering generous turn, the visitors mustered just 93 as Olly Birts (5-33) and Shoaib Bashir (3-13) cleaned up, opener Dharam Vyas making 35.
Guildford took only 12.5 overs to reach their target, Matt Teale making 50no in a fifth successive win as they bid to return to the elite, having been relegated in 2019.
Spencer remain in touch with the top two, sneaking home by two wickets against Chipstead, Coulsdon & Walcountians.
T20 finals day
The climax of the Surrey Championship’s T20 competition takes place on Sunday (July 24) at Woodbridge Road, where hosts Guildford entertain Wimbledon in the first semi-final (10am), followed by Reigate Priory v Esher at 1pm. The final is at 4pm, the winning side being presented with the Edwards Cup, which commemorates the immense services to the league of David and Virginia Edwards over many years.