With a third of the programme now completed, Richard Spiller surveys the latest action in the  AJ Sports Surrey Championship.

Sunbury v Wimbledon

The flashing blade of Nick Welch led Wimbledon to becoming undisputed leaders of the table as they chase a first title since 2014 in beating Sunbury by 79 runs.

The Leicestershire-contracted opener hammered 111 out of 246-9, dominating an opening partnership of 111 with skipper Jonathon Webb (30) as he cracked 12 fours and four sixes in his usual aggressive style.

It’s a very special bat too, provided by World Class Willow, as Welch is using it to publicise the charity Race Against Dementia. More details can be found at www.raceagainstdementia.com.

Scoring runs proved more difficult for everyone else, Ben Coddington’s 41 the next best as the visitors were forced to go the full 66 overs by a persistent attack in which left-arm spinner Vishal Manro claimed 6-79 from a marathon 25 overs.

Sunbury’s reply hit early trouble at 5-2, Surrey’s Nico Reifer producing early resistance to hit 26 while Conor Fulton (35) and Kristian Baumgartner (53) held up Wimbledon. But they proved no match for Aristides Karvelas, who returned to polish off the tail for 6-43 from 15.3 overs as the hosts were bowled out for 167.

It was Wimbledon’s fifth win in six matches but Sunbury’s third defeat in a row, sending them into the bottom half of the table, underlining how much they have missed suspended skipper Kev Smith.

East Molesey v Malden Wanderers

An overwhelming victory over Malden Wanderers moved East Molesey into second place.

Wanderers are finding life back in the Premier Division – having returned after a gap of nine years – pretty tough, having lost four out of six so far. And they failed to collect even a point against the champions, being rolled for 126.

Having taken five wickets against Ashtead seven days earlier, Andy Westphal went two better in claiming 7-26 from 18.3 overs of well-controlled seam and swing. It needed Dominic Reed to break the opening partnership of 34 by removing Dan Euston for 21 but after that Westphal charged through, his victims including prolific South African Zac Elkin for 55 and encountering little resistance after that.

Jake Kings (30) and Nick Stevens (28) launched the reply in a partnership worth 61, Cole Campbell’s 35 ensuring victory by six wickets despite James Rimmer’s 3-36.

With five wins out of six so far, Moles have made an impressive start towards a hat-trick of titles.

Esher v Ashtead

A morale-boosting 15-run victory for Ashtead has dragged Esher into the battle for survival in the bottom half.

Having been sent in, the visitors were struggling at 5-2, opener Ragu Aravinthan (39) and Sam Homes (46) adding 53 before Sam Homes (46) and Harry Williams (64) added substance as they batted the maximum 66 overs to reach 225-8.

Good news for Esher was having all-rounder Justin Broad back in the side following a finger injury playing for Surrey seconds, his 13 overs grossing 4-34 and following it up at 39 at the top of the reply.

But skipper Will Edwards could find insufficient support – the best coming from Nathan Roberts (39) and Freddie Harrison (32) – before being last man out for 60, the final three wickets falling without a run scored at 210. Tom Homes wrapped up both victory and a haul of 5-65 from 23.1 overs by taking a return catch from Edwards, Ben Sidwell having returned to scatter the tail in his 3-39.

Normandy v Weybridge

There are few cleaner strikers of a ball than Olly Batchelor, as Weybridge found to their cost at Normandy when the opener ran amok.

His devastating unbeaten 209 – the first double-century in the competition since Dominic Sibley’s 2009 for Ashtead against Weybridge 11 years ago – pulverised the visitors after they had set Normandy an apparently difficult 290 for victory.

Craig Meschede, the South African who played for Somerset, Glamorgan and Germany, had taken the early batting honours, his 111 featuring in stands of 130 with Nathan Tilley (66) and 88 with Steven Reeves (45no) on the way to 289-4dec, Matt Laidman declaring after 62 overs.

Normandy, beaten in three out of the first five matches, have lost the services of all-rounder Nathan Sowter for at least a month after he moved from Middlesex to Durham. But they were given a fine start by Batchelor – whose interest in horse racing has grown to the extent of having his own bloodstock company – dominating the start of the reply with a partnership of 83 with Joel Foster (24).

He made Weybridge pay heavily for both missing a chance and being down to 10 fielders by hammering 31 fours and four sixes. Chris Jones enjoyed the show from the other end while contributing 57no to knock off the runs the 46th over for a nine-wicket triumph.

That pushed Normandy into the top half of the table, Weybridge slipping to fourth and now 21 points off the pace.

Reigate Priory v Sutton

Having been making the pace alongside Wimbledon, Reigate found a cussed Sutton side getting in their way.

Sent in after losing the toss, the basement boys showed their fighting display against Malden Wanderers a week earlier was no illusion by making 215 all out from 65.3 overs. It was founded on an opening partnership worth 67 between Rehan Ratnasapabathy (43) and Chris Morris (48), skipper Sam Seadon taking top billing with 73. Michael Munday claimed 5-59 from 27.3 overs, supported by Angus Dahl’s 4-70 in 23.

A week on from making an unbeaten 167 to hammer Sunbury, Priory captain Richie Oliver was on song again but this time found little support. Opening partner Luke Haughton’s 20 and Dahl’s 38 the were the exceptions until Will Hodgson (17no) helped the former Worcestershire left-hander add 29 for the eighth wicket. Opposite number Seadon (4-41) removed Oliver, though, leaving the hosts to claim a winning draw at 203-8, taking 12 points to their opponents’ seven.

Best of the rest

Six out of six is Cranleigh’s proud record at the top of Division One after they crushed promotion rivals Spencer by a massive 198 runs.

In-form brothers cum openers Jack and Brad Scriven set the tone by adding 75, making 52 and 24 respectively, before leaving Clyde Fortuin (131no) and George Ealham (136no) to put on an unbeaten 275 for the third wicket. Their alliance equalled the league record, set by Paul Harrison and Akbar Ansari for Cheam in 2005, the declaration coming at 356-2 from 58 overs.

Spencer’s had suffered their first reverse of the campaign seven days earlier and crumbling to 32-4 meant another was sure to follow. James Godrich’s 48 held up Cranes longest before the visitors were finished off for 158. Seamer Archie Freeth’s 4-48 took the honours.

Guildford enjoyed a convincing eight-wicket victory over Old Wimbledonians, who had been indebted to Brandon McCabe (93) and Clint McCabe’s elegant 105 to gross 247-9 from the maximum 66 overs against a persevering attack.

With 57 overs back, the hosts made short work of it thanks to Australian opener Gus Lovell’s 105no, although he was outshone by a superb maiden league century from Tom Geffen.  The 18-year-old wicketkeeper cracked nine fours and five sixes to finish with 104no which his side home with 7.5 overs in hand, leaving them 13 points behind Cranleigh. The two meet next weekend.

Leading their respective divisions with six weeks gone are – Premier: Wimbledon; Division 1: Cranleigh; Division 2: Camberley; Division 3: Cheam; Division 4: Horsley & Send; Division 5: SinjunGrammarians.