It was week four of the the AJ Sports Surrey Championship as the teams completed the first group of 50-over matches. Richard Spiller reviews the action.
Malden Wanderers v Reigate Priory
Aiming to end a wait of eight years since they last claimed the title, Reigate Priory hit the summit as they beat Malden Wanderers by five wickets.
The hosts, promoted last year, once again proved dependent on Zac Elkin for their runs. The South African opener hit 93 out of his adopted team’s 149 all out, the next highest score being 10, as they crumbled to former Somerset leg-spinner Michael Munday (4-25). The foundations had already been loosened by experienced seam duo Andy Delmont (2-30) and Richard Stevens (3-32).
Although Richie Oliver departed for a duck, Reigate were seen most of the way to victory by Sam Hall (25), Luke Houghton (34) and Ed Fluck’s 42 and they now share the top spot with Wimbledon.
East Molesey v Weybridge
Strength in depth is a crucial factor for all successful teams and East Molesey displayed it as they ended Weybridge’s 100% record.
Beaten for the first time this season at Wimbledon a week earlier, the champions were missing three key players – including skipper Nick Stevens – but were still good enough to win by 69 runs. That was despite being restricted to 236-7, Tasmanian Mac Wright key to lifting them from 19/2 as he made 85 from 112 balls.
Cole Campbell (42) and Jamie Southgate (32) were key allies against an attack led by Harshil Patel (3-56) and which included former Surrey and England paceman Jade Dernbach, who finished with 1-32 from his 10 overs on his debut.
Sarel Erwee (46) and Ryan Schlanders (27) got the reply off to a fine start in putting on 86 but after that only skipper Matt Laidman (36*) lasted long as Weybridge crumbled to 167 all out. It was the left-arm spinners who did the damage, Matt Tigg’s 5-27 complemented by Jonny Fawcett’s 3-27, the happiest man surely being club chair Sam Burge, who took over as both captain and keeper for the day. He can hand back both roles to Stevens with Moles in third, two points off the top.
Esher v Wimbledon
Centuries from Justin Broad and Nicholas Smit were the undoing of Wimbledon to end their unbeaten record.
They made Esher’s second win of the campaign look easy despite the joint leaders having run up 268/9 from their 50 overs. That score was built around Leicestershire-contracted Nick Welch making 97 from 106 balls and David Scott’s 61. Both fell to all-rounder Broad, in his second season with the New Road club, who with Khurram Irshad kept the visitors within bounds.
When Esher slipped to 47/2 in the eighth over, their chase looked increasingly difficult but Broad and Smit attacked hard, reaching their centuries in 93 and 90 balls respectively. Smit departed for 118, with just 29 required off 10.2 overs but Broad stayed to the end for an unbeaten 119 to leave Esher sixth, six points off a slot in the top half of the table.
Normandy v Sunbury
What started as a season of struggle for Normandy is flowering rather nicely. Having been bowled out for 69 by East Molesey on the opening day of the season and then losing to Esher, they have taken the scalps of both Reigate and now Sunbury.
The visitors recovered from 132/6 – off-spinner Chris Jones’s 5-23 doing the damage – to make 235/7 thanks to Liam Scott’s unbeaten 100, made off 102 deliveries. He was aided by Subhan Ramzan (31*) in an unbroken stand of 85 for the eighth wicket.
But what looked a competitive total proved to be no such thing thanks to Joel Foster and Jones. Foster, the Sydney-based all-rounder, hammered an unbeaten 131 from 133 balls and, after losing opening partner Olly Batchelor (23) at 70, saw Jones make an unbeaten 70 as Normandy stormed to victory by nine wickets with five overs to spare. Both teams have won two and lost two, Sunbury placed fifth and their hosts two places behind.
Sutton v Ashtead
Matthew Breetzke’s century drove Ashtead to their first victory of the season – and left Sutton still seeking a breakthrough.
The 23-year-old South African cracked 12 fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 134 which ensured the visitors totalled 298/5 after choosing to bat at Cheam Road. He added 91 for the second wicket with Marcus Caprano-Wint (50) and 115 for the fourth with Paul Harrison, who cracked a quickfire 64.
Soon in trouble at 23/2, Sutton never looked like challenging that total as they could only muster 224/9, owing much of that to Josh Blake. Having made a century in a losing cause against Weybridge a week earlier, the left-hander hit 101 this time but only a breezy 30 from West Indian Dane Currency offered much assistance.
That win lifted Ashtead out of the relegation zone but sorry Sutton lie bottom, having taken just 14 points from four outings so far and hoping that the switch to time games for the next nine weeks will suit them rather more.
Best of the rest
There are runs aplenty for Cranleigh as they attempt to make an immediate return to the Premier Division.
Strugglers Beddington were brushed aside by 95 runs to give Cranes the ideal start of four out of four, their decision to bat first justified by Jack Scriven hammering 109. He put on 176 for the first wicket with brother Brad (65) in what is proving a prolific season for them both.
Bruno Broughton’s 33 helped the visitors to 278 all out, quickly reducing Beddington to 60-6. Chris Beck’s 66 offered respectability but his side limped to 183 all out, Jack Scriven’s excellent afternoon completed by 3-33.
Keeping pace with Cranes are Spencer, who ended Guildford’s 100% record in winning by 30 runs. Opener William De Cani (87) was instrumental in guiding the home side to 262 all out, Guildford’s 23 wides proving costly, as did the run out of in-form Australian Angus Lovell for 34. The match was still in the balance while Tom Geffen was hitting a lively 39 but his side now lie 13 points off the front pair.
If it’s heart-stopping finishes you enjoy then try watching Valley End. Having inched past Stoke d’Abernon by two runs, they bowled out Dulwich for 166 and looked hot favourites for a third success of the campaign. But a dramatic collapse against Frankie Brown (5-36) saw Dulwich snatch victory by the same two-run margin – the south Londoners’ first win since promotion – on another pulsating Saturday.