It was week seven of the league campaign and all change at the top of the Premier Division. Richard Spiller surveys the action.
Sutton v East Molesey
Jonny Fawcett joined an elite group in claiming 9-87 as East Molesey regained their now familiar place at the summit. The left-arm spinner’s 9-87 from 27 overs was key to overcoming Sutton by six wickets, which puts the Moles clear at the top by 10 points, leaving their opponents still in the basement.
It looked promising for the hosts when, having elected to bat, they saw openers Rehan Ratnasapathy (58) and Chris Morris (68) put on 106. Fawcett claimed the breakthrough when Morris was stumped by skipper Nick Stevens and worked his way through the rest to dismiss Sutton for 207 in the 64th over. He was only deprived of becoming the first bowler in Championship top division history to claim all 10 when last man Aneesh Jhalla was run out, instead becoming the 22nd to take nine.
East Molesey enjoyed their own fine start through Tasmanian Mac Wright (97) and Jake Kings (53), James Cake’s 40no securing a six-wicket success.
Ashtead v Normandy
Rain had the final word but Ashtead’s harvest of 12 points meant they collected the majority of the spoils. Having sent in the hosts, Normandy saw them amass 339-6 from their maximum 66 overs, Surrey’s Ben Geddes (46) putting on 93 for the first wicket with Ragu Aravinthan (35).
That set the tone for Conor Young (80) and Matthew Breetzke (67) to provide the ballast, with solid contributions throughout being augmented by 31 extras. Chris Jones’s 2-58 from 16 overs was the best return.
Australian Joel Foster and Jones were early victims as Normandy’s reply slipped to 11-2 but Olly Batchelor – having devastated Weybridge with a double-century seven days earlier – confirmed his fine form by hammering 131 from 101 balls, including 19 fours and four sixes. That formed the bulk of a 154-run stand for the third wicket with Liam McKendry (39) but Normandy’s best hope of survival was when rain arrived with them on 203-5 from 41 overs, still needing 137 from 13. Ben Sidwell claimed 3-35.
Malden Wanderers v Esher
Fighting back from early trouble was the key to Esher prevailing by 30 runs in a closely fought clash at Malden Wanderers. Runs were at a premium all day, key contributions for the visitors after being elected to bat being Anosh Malik’s 43 and a partnership between last pair Joe De La Fuente (15*) and Khurram Irshad which raised their side from 126-9 to 151 all out in the 43rd over. Munir Osman and Aamir Raza took three wickets apiece.
Justin Broad raised Esher’s hopes by bowling both openers – the prolific Zac Elkin (20) and Alex Butler (25) – but Wanderers were still narrow favourites at 75-2. Losing two wickets for no runs presaged a slide to 86-8 and they could only struggle to 121 all out, Broad’s 4-30 setting the tone for leg-spinner Freddie Harrison to sweep through the tail for 5-29 in 9.5 overs.
It was Wanderers’ fifth defeat in seven outings and although they lead Sutton by two points, an alarming 30-point gap looms to the rest.
Weybridge v Sunbury
A run-filled clash between neighbours was wrecked by stygian light and then rain.
Desperate to end a run of three defeats, Sunbury sped to 338-9dec from 53 overs as an opening stand of 153 between Sam Burgess (101) and Rajan Soni (50) was built upon by Surrey’s Nico Reifer (main picture) making 81 and Australian Liam Scott’s 78 from just 55 balls, which included 10 fours and two sixes. The bowlers got their reward later on, Brent Kay’s 4-102 and Steven Reeves’s 3-79 the best rewarded of a four-man attack.
Sunbury skipper Kev Smith celebrated his return from a four-week ban by removing Odge Davey for nine but Sarel Erwee (37*) and Nathan Tilley (31*) were making steady progress when conditions closed in at 90-1 from 19 overs, leaving both sides with six points.
Wimbledon v Reigate Priory
Priory knocked Wimbledon off the top and strengthened their own title chances in a 44-run victory. Missing in-form captain Richie Oliver and losing Andy Delmont to the first ball of the match after being inserted, Reigate were in big trouble at 113-7 despite opener Luke Haughton’s 41. They owed a final total of 211 all out to wicket-keeper Sam Hall’s sterling 81, gaining vital support from Matthew Hutcheon (24) in an eighth-wicket alliance worth 79.
Wimbledon’s own poor start, sliding to 13-3, included losing Surrey’s Ryan Patel for three. Although both Jack Boyle and Ben Coddington made 41, only Jonathan Dewes of the later batsmen held up the visitors, whose key man once again was former Somerset leg-spinner Michael Munday. His 5-57 from 17.1 overs finished off the hosts for 167, pushing them into third spot, 18 points off the pace. Priory are now second, 10 off the top.
Best of the rest
They might have surrendered their 100% record but Cranleigh underlined why they are leading Division One with a dominant performance against nearest challengers Guildford.
Entering on the back of winning all six matches, Cranes left Olly Birts rueing his decision to insert them by strolling to 329-8 dec from 58 overs, South African Clyde Fortuin adding 127 for the second wicket with Brad Scriven. He looked destined for his second century in eight days only to be caught behind for 99 but George Ealham’s fluent 66 took advantage of a tiring attack.
Guildford, having won five out of six, became ragged in the field, had 62 overs back but slid to 85-7 with defeat looking certain. James McMillan’s 23 headed the resistance and with Joe Morse seeing off 94 deliveries to finish 11*, they had the satisfaction of claiming a draw at 126-8 in a match where the final stages were played in steady drizzle. They took only four points to the home side’s 12 and now trail them by 22 points.
Following two defeats, Spencer made up ground courtesy of a seven-wicket triumph at Stoke d’Abernon while Banstead – relegated alongside Cranleigh last year – are picking up after a sticky start and terminated Beddington’s own revival in an emphatic 10-wicket lashing.
Sunbury’s super Sunday
A place in the last 16 is Sunbury’s prize for beating Datchet in the ECB National Club Championship on Sunday.
The Berkshire side’s 281-4 from 40 overs looked all the better when Sunbury were 9-2 but Liam Scott’s unbeaten 136 saw him add 169 for the third wicket with Colby Dyer (61) before Alex Hughes (63*) joined the Australian to finish the job with 11 balls to spare.