Another steaming Saturday saw the AJ Surrey Championship Premier Division coming closer to the boil. Richard Spiller reviews the action.
Malden Wanderers v East Molesey
Sam Burge’s appetite for a run chase proved too tasty for Malden Wanderers as he guided East Molesey to victory by four wickets, keeping alive their hopes of a hat-trick of titles.
Chasing 217 for victory, Moles were under pressure at 75-3 and again at 137-5 when Jamie Southgate was leg-before attempting to reverse sweep Jack Morgan.
But club chairman Burge dominated a sixth wicket alliance with Australian Mac Wright, whose 77 was the backbone of his side’s pursuit and took him past 800 runs for the campaign, to make 43no as he and Matt Tigg (16no) finished the job with 2.4 overs in hand. That keeps them just two points behind leaders Wimbledon.
Earlier Wanderers – now 49 points adrift of safety and needing to win all three matches to have a hope of staying up – had taken advantage of Moles skipper Nick Stevens’s hopeless ability to spot which way a coin will land as he lost the toss for the 13th time in 15 outings.
Choosing to bat, the hosts saw South African opener Zac Elkin return to form by making 110no in his side’s 216-5, taking him to 851 for the season. Raleh Jafri’s 40 was the best contribution otherwise, Andy Westphal and Tigg claiming two wickets each.
Doomed Sutton, Reigate Priory and Weybridge are East Molesey’s final three opponents.
Wimbledon v Sunbury
Can anyone stop Wimbledon landing their first league title for nine years?
Sunbury gave it their best shot before going down by 50 runs, leaving the men from SW19 at the summit.
Acting captain Jack Boyle relished the heat in making 98 at the top of the order after being sent in, putting on 109 with opening partner Michael Turner (41) before David Scott (62) and Billy Sewell (35no) drove the hosts to 285-5.
Removing Sam Burgess – whose hurricane century had sunk Reigate Priory seven days earlier – for just 22 was a big step to victory and although Sunbury never gave up the chase, Kevin Smith’s 38 down the order was their highest score. Samer Ollie Pike finished with 4-42 in dismissing the visitors for 235.
Reigate Priory and Weybridge have the chance to damage Wimbledon’s title hopes while boosting their own over the next two weeks, a home date with Ashtead the final hurdle.
Sutton v Reigate Priory
Priory kept alive their outside hopes of the title and sent down Sutton in the process.
Stuck in the basement all season since promotion, the home side were bowled out for 199 despite 46 from Rehan Ratnasapathy and Fabian Cowdrey’s 63, Jacob McLoughlin the greatest threat in taking 4-49 from 10 overs.
Sutton have raised the hopes of their supporters many a time only to disappoint and did so again, removing Reigate’s openers to leave them 20-2.
James Crosthwaite (90) restored order although it took Andy Delmont’s unbeaten 44 to seal victory by five wickets with 7.5 overs in hand. That win kept his side 22 points off the summit in third place.
Weybridge v Normandy
While his brothers Tom and Sam are enjoying life in the Hundred, Ben Curran has found form too.
The left-hander’s 103 was instrumental in Weybridge’s eight-wicket win, which kept them 25 points off the top and still having an outside hope of the title.
Normandy, for whom defeat means a place in the top half of the table is looking increasingly unlikely, never got going sufficiently to threaten a defendable total, needing Sam Wellfare’s 48 – plus 35 extras, 29 in wides – for their final total of 233-9. Ben Ladd Gibbon’s three wickets cost 62 but Phil Mann (2-32) and Hassan Dahr (2-35) kept things under control.
And their hard work paid off while Curran, making his third Surrey Championship century, was putting on 155 with opening partner Haydir Ali (70), acting captain Nathan Tilley’s 29 finishing the job.
Ashtead v Esher
Justin Broad’s fourth league century of the season was the highlight of a high-scoring clash at Ashtead.
The prolific all-rounder, who has featured for Surrey’s second team and played for the German national side this year, cracked a run-a-ball 139 which led Esher to 333-5 from their 50 overs. Support came from county academy youngster Krish Patel (55), David Brent (54) and Alex Martin (50no).
Ashtead have spent the summer looking down rather than up but are now safe and made a decent fist of the chase, Matthew Breetzke’s 68 taking him past 900 runs for the season and Conor Young hitting 73. But they were dismissed for 276 in the 46th over, Broad adding 2-43 to his busy afternoon while Brent and Freddie Harrison also struck twice.
Esher have clashes with the bottom two teams coming up as they attempt to break into the top four and their final day clash against East Molesey – who they have already beaten once this season – could yet influence the destination of the title.
Best of the rest
The race for promotion in Division One took a new twist when Spencer stole victory by seven runs over leaders Cranleigh.
What has long been a three-way battle – Guildford are the other side involved – seems set to go to the final round.
Cranes started the day leading by two points from Guildford with the Wandsworth side another 14 adrift but that now looks rather different.
Spencer’s 225 all out – which owed much to Archie Macpherson’s 81, George Roberts (43) and Hugo Darby (44) making valuable contributions with James Hamblin’s 5-46 the main threat – appeared inadequate when the hosts made a strong start to their reply. Brothers Jack (41) and Bradley Scriven (46) and South African all-rounder Clyde Fortuin, whose 66 means he needs only another 42 for 1,000 runs, took Cranleigh to 143-2 but thereafter the wobbles set in.
Former Hampshire all-rounder Hamblin’s 11 was the best after that, three wickets apiece for Michael Snedden, Gus Grant and Max Hunt enough to force a win which puts their side right back in the mix and watching on this Saturday as Cranes head to new leaders Guildford.
Olly Birt’s men currently hold a 12-point advantage following their crushing 229-run victory at Old Wimbledonians. Tom Geffen’s 109 was the centrepiece of a total of 317 all out which featured older brother Freddie’s 48 and handy contributions of 34 apiece from Gus Lovell and Tom Humphreys.
OWs had made their job all the harder with a woeful display of fielding and crashed to 88 all out, left-arm spinner Birts relishing the turning pitch to finish with 6-16.
To make their plight worse, Wimbledonians have been hit by a 13-point penalty for fielding an ineligible player which sent them into the relegation zone.
More promotion and relegation matters were decided, Camberley confirming their return to Division One courtesy of a five-wicket success against Leatherhead.
A 148-run victory at Addiscombe means Horsley & Send will jump from Division Four, their second promotion in 12 months. SinjunGrammarians had a five-wicket success over London Gymkhana to thank for putting them beyond reach of third-placed Egham in Division Five while at the other end Long Ditton’s spell in the Surrey Championship was ended by neighbours Thames Ditton inflicting defeat by nine wickets.