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Covers and calculators are proving just as important as bats and balls in the AJ Fordham Surrey Championship so far this season.

Richard Spiller reviews another soggy weekend around the county.

Ashtead v East Molesey

Champions East Molesey profited from Ashtead’s determination to beat the weather.

Rained off two weeks earlier, they staged a remarkable effort to beat the latest monsoon, groundstaff and helpers heading to Woodfield Lane on Friday to weigh down sheets with 30 scaffolding pipes which prevented the covers being blown out of position and then returning on Saturday morning to remove them and mop up.

That meant umpires John Flatley and Stuart Todd could pass the square fit for play with just a 30 minute delay for a 44-over per side match (each losing six), Moles squeaking it by one wicket with a ball to spare.

Having been inserted, Ashtead were given an excellent platform of 85 by former Leicestershire and Derbyshire all-rounder Wayne White (35) and Ben Geddes, the Surrey-contracted skipper reaching 52 before a direct hit run out from Cole Campbell sent him back.

Harri Aravinthan (50) and Manoj Sarathchandra (36) built on that but Dominic Reed’s 3-38 ensured Ashtead were contained to 203-6, the target being raised to 206 on DLS.

East Molesey suffered a major blow when White bowled the aggressive Reed with the first ball of the reply and they were soon in trouble at 26-3 as Ben Sidwell removed Jamie Southgate (5) and Indian import Himmat Singh for a duck.

Opener Marcus Campopiano (69) and Campbell’s 71 transformed the match in an alliance worth 94 but Ashtead were clear favourites going into the final over, when seven were needed with one wicket left. Jonathan Fawcett’s unbeaten 20 proved to be the key though and pulling Aravinthan for a boundary from the penultimate delivery made it three out of three for the Moles, stretching their lead to 18 points.

Sunbury v Reigate Priory

Without a point after two games, Reigate Priory got off the mark – but it needed the intervention of 14-year-old Adi Bali to beat Sunbury.

A low-scoring saw the hosts dismissed for 72 in the 29th over, Surrey’s Nico Reifer (17) and Kristan Baumgartner (16) the only ones to reach double-figures. Andy Delmont claimed 3-18 and Reifer’s colleague at the Kia Oval James Taylor returned 3-34.

Priory were in crisis at 12-4 and when they lost top-scorer Luke Haughton for 24 it was 52-6. But Bali kept a cool head to steer Reigate to victory by six wickets in making an unbeaten 16 in company with Richard Stevens (5no).

Wimbledon v Esher

A 67-run victory at Church Road established Wimbledon as the leading challengers to East Molesey.

They cruised to 249-8 from 50 overs, openers Adam Dewes (53) and Oliver Swann (27) paving the way for Leicestershire-contracted Nick Welch to crack 73 from 69 balls, which included three fours and four sixes.

Justin Broad collected 3-50 from his seven overs and made 37 at the top of the reply. Guy Harper’s 43 was the highest score, though, as Esher fell well short at 182-8, Oliver Pike’s 5-44 proving their greatest obstacle.

Two Premier Divisions fell victim to the weather – Banstead v Cranleigh and Weybridge v Normandy.

Best of the rest

It’s promising to be a fascinating tussle for promotion in Division One with three teams level on points at the top.

Malden Wanderers are among them, eight years on from dropping out of the elite, making it two out of three wins with a 72-run thumping of Stoke d’Abernon.

Alex Butler’s 99 picked them up from 135-5 to 203-8 from 48 overs, Joe Lavender collecting 4-22 to dismiss the visitors for 131.

Spencer are the second side after bowling out Guildford for 206 in the 48th over, Fred McMillan making 41. Two Hugos did much of the damage – Darby and Trotter – in taking three wickets each and the former was unbeaten on 49 when rain arrived at Woodbridge Road, his side well placed  at 109-1 in the 25th over. That put them well ahead of the DLS par score of 74 given further play was impossible.

Sutton reaffirmed their own promotion hopes, Fabian Cowdrey’s 3-17 heading the destruction of Leatherhead for 123 and a revised target of 116 from 40 overs being passed in the 30th thanks to Luke Smith (34) and Josh Blake (31).

Cups news

Making headway in cup competitions is proving difficult given the wet weather, Priory needing a bowl out to knock Roffey out of the ECB National Championships on Sunday. They beat the Sussex side 2-1, the crucial strike coming from Chris Murtagh, emulating older brother’s Tim deadly accuracy for Surrey in a dramatic T20 quarter-final dusk shootout at The Oval in 2005

Two Surrey Championship sides aim to utilise Bank Holiday Monday to progress – Weybridge head down the A3 to Havant while Banstead host Wimbledon.

The league’s T20 competition also brings some bank holiday afternoon action, Guildford hosting Walton and Valley End entertaining Ashford.

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