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It was the opening week of the new league season in the A.J. Fordham Surrey Championship and although rain did its best to hamper the first of 18 rounds – due to be 50 overs per side – clubs were keen to get the action underway.

Richard Spiller reports on what was still a busy weekend of club cricket activity up and down the county.

Weybridge v East Molesey

Sam Burge may devote much of his time to being chairman of East Molesey these days but he’s still a vital player for the defending champions.

On the opening weekend, Burge found his club in crisis at 113-5 – soon to be 119-6 – as they chased 158 from 33 overs at Weybridge.

The home side had been indebted to Odge Davey (41) and Matt Laidman (64) in reaching 157-9 after being inserted, Dominic Reed’s 3-35 from seven overs making him the most successful of Moles’ attack.

Skipper Reed’s typically aggressive 23 to lead the reply was cut short by a magnificent catch from Nathan Tilley, who snaffled another next ball which removed Jamie Southgate to reward Harshil Patel again. While Indian strokemaker Himmat Singh was in the middle, East Molesey were strong favourites but when he departed for 42 it meant the onus was on Burge.

His typically unorthodox 32no from 31 balls saw the visitors to victory by three wickets with four balls to spare as Moles set out for another title. Simon Reeves claimed 2-16 in seven overs.

Reigate Priory v Esher

There was time for 25 overs per side by the time conditions were fit for play at Reigate and Esher took advantage to win by six wickets.

Inserting the hosts, they restricted Priory to 128-7, which owed much to Brad Scriven’s 51, seamer Khurram Irshad’s 4-18 from five overs combining with Justin Broad (2-24) to restrict a powerful batting line-up.

Left-arm seamer Andy Delmont made early inroads as Esher slipped to 34-3, early resistance led by 20-year-old Broad. The Cape Town-based all-rounder, who has been a regular for Surrey’s second team this season, made 27 and then saw David Brent’s unbeaten 54 from 59 balls lead an unbroken partnership worth 48 with wicketkeeper Alex Martin (18no) to claim victory with two overs to spare.

Sunbury v Normandy

Heaviest win of the day came for Sunbury in a contest reduced to 41 overs. They might have questioned skipper Kevin Smith’s wisdom in choosing to bat first when Sam Burgess and John Maunders were removed early by Russell Withey.

Surrey’s Nico Reiffer led the fightback in stroking 45, Rajan Soni (25) and wicketkeeper Conor Fulton (33no) pumping up the hosts to 194-9. Middlesex leg-spinner Nathan Sowter’s 3-24 from nine overs were augmented by a run out but his side donated 18 runs in wides.

Normandy, Division One champions in 2019, never threatened that score as they were bowled out for 121 – Viggy Venkataswaran making the best of 24 – as Smith’s 3-24 was joined by two victims apiece for Vashal Manro and Burgess.

Wimbledon v Cranleigh

Cranleigh’s return to the Premier Division started with a five-wicket defeat at Wimbledon.

They battled through their 40 overs to be 143 all out, Bruno Broughton’s 26 and captain Jonathan Gonszor’s 20 the main reasons as a typically efficient bowling display by Wimbledon was headlined by Richie Lamb (4-36), aided by two wickets apiece for Oliver Pike, Jack Palser and Jonathan Dewes.

Having gone wicketless in his seven overs, Ryan Patel made up for it with the bat, following his century for Surrey’s second team at Hove in the preceding days by making 83no. His 91-ball innings included five fours and two sixes, seeing the hosts to victory in 34.4 overs.

Ashtead v Banstead

Heavy overnight and morning rain proved too much for the Woodfield Lane ground, so Ashtead and Banstead took five points each and will be hoping for better luck next weekend.

Best of the rest

Favourites Sutton got their promotion campaign off to a comfortable start as they saw off Camberley by six wickets.

Former Kent all-rounder Fabian Cowdrey’s 5-18 from 7.5 overs proved key, his left-arm chinamen tearing through the Camberley lower-order to bowl them out for 103 as he benefited from tight support from Sam Blake, Dane Currrency – both returning 2-19 in nine overs – and Aneesh Jhalla.

Luke Smith (41no) and Josh Blake (29) did most of the heavy lifting on the way to victory.

Guildford’s return to Division One proved less successful as they went down by three wickets at Beddington. Inserted in bowler-friendly conditions, they were reduced to 77-8 – seamer Seb Chmielinski’s 4-23 wiping out the middle-order – until new captain Olly Birts (34) led a spirited response.

At 103-7 the match was still open, Birts and fellow spinner Shoaib Bashir both claiming two cheap wickets, but Graham Lester (26no) and Chmielinski (16no) ensured it went Beddington’s way with 19 balls to spare.