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The second week of the Surrey Championship campaign saw a spicy meeting between two of the top teams. Richard Spiller reports.

East Molesey v Sunbury

Champions versus runners-up is always expected to be a testy encounter and so it proved as East Molesey squeezed home by 16 runs at Graburn Way.

Sunbury were the only team to beat them last year – doing it twice, the Moles’ only defeats as they cruised to the title by 50 points – and after inserting the hosts saw openers Mac Wright (52) and Jake Kings (57) put on 98. Once that stand was broken there were regular breakthroughs, Matt Harpur and Vishal Manro collecting three wickets each while Surrey off-spinner Amar Virdi was unfortunate not to finish with better figures than 1-39 in eight overs.

Cole Campbell (29) and Andy Westphal’s 31 inflated the East Molesey total to 251 all out. There was controversy in the 48th over when Sunbury captain Kevin Smith made physical contact in mid-pitch with Johnny Fawcett, five penalty runs being awarded with another five added after a verbal incident soon after. Smith has been reported to the league disciplinary committee for two level two offences by the umpires.

That additional 10 runs proved expensive later on, Rajan Soni opening the reply with 67 while Surrey-contracted Nico Reifer kept the visitors afloat in making 49. Conor Fulton’s 30 was another important contribution and Kristian Baumgartner threatened to snatch the match.  He blasted four sixes in his express 32 before becoming one of four victims for Westphal as the visitors were dismissed for 235 with eight balls unused.

Ashtead v Reigate Priory

There are few more destructive players in the Premier Division than Priory skipper Richie Oliver. The left-hander’s ability to ruin the best laid plans of bowlers and captains were amply demonstrated by his unbeaten run a ball 118 which shredded Ashtead.

Beaten by Weybridge in the opening round, the hosts battled their way to 205-9 from 50, owing much to South African Matthew Breetzke’s 87 from 85 deliveries which included 13 boundaries. Next best was Tom Homes’s 21 down the order, given Surrey youngster Ben Geddes fell early on for 12. Angus Dahl’s 3-53 was augmented by two wickets apiece for Robin Lines, Richard Stevens and Michael Munday.

Former Worcestershire opener Oliver’s 119, aided by 75 from Sam Hall, soon proved that total was inadequate, stroking 19 fours and a six, the opening alliance worth 200 in 34.1 overs and victory arriving seven balls later.

Esher v Normandy

A match-changing alliance between Nicholas Smit and Freddie Harrison was behind Esher’s 74-run victory over Normandy. Having lost to Reigate Priory in the opening round, the hosts sank to 80-6 with Middlesex leg-spinner Nathan Sowter striking twice. But South African all-rounder Smit cracked an unbeaten 102 and found an ideal partner in Harrison, whose 72 came from just 65 balls with seven fours and three sixes, driving Esher to 246-7. George Barlow took 2-58.

That proved more than enough against Normandy’s struggling batting line-up, Sowter hitting 50 before being run out and leg-spinner Harrison claiming 3-41 as Normandy went down to their second defeat.

Malden Wanderers v Weybridge

Surrey’s Cameron Steel found his 91 was not enough to save Malden Wanderers from a six-wicket reverse. Steel stroked seven fours and two sixes in his 112-ball knock but the next highest score was South African opener Zac Elkin’s 29 – the pair adding 55 for the second wicket – to complete 50 overs with 227-4 on the board.

Hopes that would be sufficient were raised when South African Test opener Sarel Erwee, whose arrival had been delayed by Covid and visa issues, departed for seven. Odge Davey’s run-a-ball 45 dominated a stand of 69 with Nathan Tilley until leg-spinner Steel bowled Davey.

Tilley has masterminded plenty of successful chases and when he was joined by captain Matt Laidman (24no) for a partnership worth 51 ensured Weybridge made it two out of two so far, Tilley finishing unbeaten on 99 to secure the 20 points with an over in hand.

Sutton v Wimbledon

Having bounced straight back from relegation to reclaim a Premier Division place, Sutton in danger of hitting the buffers. They suffered an eight-wicket trouncing at the hands of Wimbledon in the Thameslink Derby, Sam Seadon following up his successful summer last year by making 52 for the hosts after they had chosen to bat, the hosts gaining a solid platform at 107-2 helped by Josh Blake’s 21.

But Surrey’s left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty struck two quick blows – claiming 3-19 in 10 frugal overs overall – and Sutton were shunted into a siding at 116-8. Late resistance from Dane Currency and Sam Blake signalled a change but their side could only muster 145 before being dismissed from the final ball of their 50 overs. Jack Palser’s 3-30 was highly influential.

Seeing hard-hitting Leicestershire opener Nick Welch run out without facing was a blow to Wimbledon’s run chase but skipper Jon Webb (74no) and Jack Boyle (58) all but decided the game in a second wicket alliance, victory coming in just 30.3 overs to ensure the visitors kept up full steam with two wins and left their opponents without a point.

Best of the rest

Relegated Banstead bounced back from an opening round reverse by sinking Old Wimbledonians in Division One. They had Freddy Clinton’s 3-10 from three overs to thank for finishing off OWs for 178 before Harawal Ahmed Wassam’s 101no – his maiden century – engineered a successful by run chase by nine wickets from just 22 overs.

Cranleigh, the other side to go down last year, dished out a 162-run hammering to Valley End – fourth last year – after cruising to 256-6. Brothers Jack (40) and Brad Scriven (55) set it up for George Ealham to hammer 77no, former Gloucestershire all-rounder Ed Young’s 3-41 applying the brake temporarily.

Only Russell Lane’s 30 delayed the Cranes bowlers for long, dismissing Valley End for 94 in the 26th over as Will Rollings (3-21) spearheaded the attack.

Guildford made it two out off two, containing Beddington to 205-4 – Tor Burrowes and Kyle Moolman making 59 apiece – but that never looked like testing the visitors after Angus Lovell (72) and Jacques Sharam (52) put on 87 for the second wicket. Fred McMillan’s 38 brought up victory by six wickets with four overs in hand

Sunday extra

Rain made an unwelcome intervention to interrupt matches in the ECB National Club Championship first round on Sunday. Normandy’s trip to Banbury in group 12 saw them concede 175-7 from 32 overs and after being set 142 from 26 on D/L could only muster 120-7 despite Joel Foster’s 76.

East Molesey’s ambitions of progressing from group 15 were halted by Kent side Blackheath, who smashed 196-8 from 20 overs and then limited the response to 164-8, the efforts of former captains Sam Burge (53) and Dominic Reed insufficient to overcome a disastrous start. Wimbledon’s trip to Preston Nomads fell victim to the weather and will be played next Sunday, as will Esher’s home date with Middleton.