It was week 16 of the AJ Sports Surrey Championship and a familiar name was back at the top of the Premier Division. Richard Spiller reviews the action.
Reigate Priory v Wimbledon
Leaders at the start of the day, Wimbledon suffered a grievous blow to hopes of their first title since 2013 – but Reigate kept alive their own chances.
Priory won by nine wickets in one of their best performances of an erratic campaign which could yet secure glory given they are now 20 points behind new frontrunners East Molesey but play them on Saturday.
Having lost acting skipper Jack Boyle for a duck, Wimbledon rebuilt through a second wicket stand worth 67 between opener Ben Coddington (36) and Tim Lloyd. Once that was split, though, only Lloyd – a member of Surrey’s squad for the Royal London Cup squad – lasted long as he made 81, his side being bowled out for 161 in the 44th over. Tom Massey, Michael Munday and Angus Dahl all finished with three wickets, wicketkeeper James Crosthwaite claiming four catches.
There was no comeback for the men from SW19, Richie Oliver (86no) and Sam Hall (32) putting on 97 and the industrious Crosthwaite finishing on 32no to achieve victory in the 26th over.
Now 17 points off the pace, Wimbledon must beat Weybridge and Ashtead and hope for the best while third-placed Reigate head to East Molesey before hosting Weybridge.
East Molesey v Sutton
Having already been relegated, Sutton were in no shape to stand between East Molesey and a return to the top of the table as they spy a hat-trick of titles.
It was all over by 3pm as Moles won by nine wickets, Sutton choosing to bat first but being routed for 99 in 31.4 overs. Young paceman Toby Porter proved too good for them as they removed the top half of a shaky batting order in claiming 5-25 from 10 overs, his first five-wicket haul at Premier level. Dan Edwards (23) and Ben Rutherford (22no) produced a semblance of resistance for a team who have not won a game all season but left-arm spin pair Matthew Tigg (2-11) and Jonny Fawcett (2-23) rounded up the rest.
Although Dominic Reed (9) went early in the reply, skipper Nick Stevens (42no) and Mac Wright (39no) ensured the runs were knocked off in just 12.1 overs.
That win saw East Molesey go 17 points ahead but they can make no plans for a celebration party quite yet given their final two games are against Priory and fourth-placed Esher.
Sunbury v Weybridge
Weybridge’s remaining title hopes were snuffed out by a six-wicket reverse at Sunbury.
They started the day 22 points off the summit but have now faded to fifth after being bowled out for 189, skipper Matt Laidman having chosen to bat first.
Craig Meschede’s 69 prevented the top-order collapsing completely but they were in deep enough trouble at 112-8, Phil Mann (37no) joining him in a stand worth 76 to give the innings some substance as they reached 189 all out. The cause of most problems were Sam Burgess (4-27) and Subhan Ramzan (3-26) before Burgess’s 42 ensured a speedy tempo to the reply.
Rajan Soni (55no) and Kristian Baumgartner’s electric 48no, which included five fours and three sixes, wrapped up victory in the 33rd over which finally ended any remaining worries Sunbury possessed about their place in the Premier Division last year.
Esher v Malden Wanderers
Moving into the top four and keeping alive their faint – effectively mathematical – chances of the title, Esher despatched Malden Wanderers to Division One in the process.
Back in the Premier Division after a gap of nine years, the visitors had risenj with high hopes but, like Sutton, found the gap in standard too great.
They dismissed Esher for 255 from the final delivery of the 50th over, opener Justin Broad (39) and Nicholas Smit (35) the highest scorers as Jack Morgan claimed 4-57 from 10 overs.
Losing acting captain and leading batsman Zac Elkin for three at the start of the reply was a massive blow to Malden’s hopes so that, although Aamir Raza made a defiant 60, the reply folded for 176 to confirm relegation. There were three wickets each for Smit and David Brent.
Normandy v Ashtead
Max Stevenson’s speedy 42no wrecked Ashtead’s bid for victory at Normandy.
The visitors had been in control early on, Paul Harrison (88) and Sam Homes (76) adding 125 for the third wicket in 30 overs. But from 168-2, Ashtead struggled to 244-8 at the end, pinned back by an attack led by Sreenivasa Sarma’s 4-34 from nine overs.
Olly Batchelor’s typically brisk 55 launched the response but at 182-5 with nine overs remaining, it was anyone’s game but Stevenson’s 31-ball intervention earned success by four wickets with 17 balls to spare.
Normandy, currently sixth, can still harbour hopes of finishing in the top half of the table but for Ashtead rising above their current seventh is unlikely.
Best of the rest
You need a cigarette paper to divide the teams at each end of Division One.
Cranleigh’s 31-run win at Guildford put them back on top but they only lead their hosts by a point with Spencer one more adrift.
Jack Scriven (52) and Lewis Bedford (35) got Cranes off to a rapid start and although they were trimmed back by James McMillan (3-46), George Ealham took charge. His seventh wicket alliance of 111 with younger brother Tommy (36) – watched by dad Mark, once of Kent, Nottinghamshire and England – tilted the match irrevocably Cranleigh’s way. George completed his century in the final over of the innings, taking 24 off left-arm spinner Olly Birts, to finish on 117no out of a formidable 286-7.
With Australian strokemaker Gus Lovell gone home and having made some expensive errors in the field, Guildford’s job got even harder with the needless run out of in-form Freddie Geffen for 18. Matt Teale’s 67 and Tom Geffen’s 38 kept them in with an outside chance but not even Alex Sweet’s inventive 62 from 46 balls could save his side as they were bowled out for 255.
By passing 250, tbough, the Woodbridge Road side earned a seventh bonus point which may yet prove important.
Spencer’s victory by five wickets over Stoke d’Abernon saw them dismiss the visitors for 187, opener Toby Pratt’s unbeaten 83 supervising a chase successfully completed with 13.3 overs in hand.
It’s just as tense at the other end of the table, where Old Wimbledonians – having already been deducted 13 points for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season – made life even harder for themselves by losing to the only side below them, Dulwich. Both can still escape given Beddington are just four points above and Stoke d’Abernon nine ahead.
Other promotion and relegation issues resolved on Saturday saw Worcester Park joining Cheam in the jump zone from Division Three while Woking & Horsell will move in the opposite direction.