The weather gods really have it in for club cricket this season, yet another Saturday’s programme being wrecked.
Richard Spiller picks up the pieces of the weekend in the AJ Fordham Surrey Championship.
East Molesey go into next Saturday’s encounter with Sunbury knowing that nine points will guarantee them their second AJ Fordham Surrey Championship Premier Division crown in a row.
The runaway leaders might have had it all sewn up by now after a remarkable effort by groundsman Nick Marsh and his team of helpers ensured Cranleigh’s visit on Saturday finally went ahead.
It was one of just four games to be played in the six divisions and the only one in the top three levels as Graburn Way’s new covers paid dividends. Cranleigh too were keen to play, given their plight at the foot of the table, positive intent from the captains – Dominic Reed and Jonathan Gonszor – and umpires Matt Johnson and Andy Storey ensuring play got started at 2.35pm.
Moles knew that victory would wrap up the title and that it was possible in the first week of August underlines their utter domination of the Premier Division this season, going into the match with a lead of 79 points.
East Molesey skipper Reed took his usual positive approach, the hosts only using 29 of the 39 possible overs to make 172-8dec. That was despite being in trouble at 43-4 but the depth of their batting was underlined by veteran Sam Burge (43) and Andy Westphal (21no) leading a revival. Young seamers Ollie Sheen (2-42) and Surrey Academy bowler George Ealham (3-29) impressed, as so often during this difficult season for the visitors.
Left 39 overs to get the runs, Cranleigh soon lost Harry Windridge (7) and Lewis Bedford (9) to seamer Reed, Ealham (14) and Jack Scriven (17) launching a counterattack before each falling to catches by Jamie Southgate off left-arm spinner Matt Tigg.
Three more overs were lost to a shower, Bruno Broughton’s 38no steadying the innings but the target becoming increasingly beyond the visitors. Tommy Ealham (11no) and Ryan Anderson (18) were victims of Jonathan Fawcett, Cranleigh finishing on 117-6.
Moles took eight points and Cranes four – two fewer than if they had stayed in the pavilion, ironically – to leave them 26 points off safety but still alive given there are four more rounds to play.
Should East Molesey secure the title on Saturday, it will be the ideal launch to their cricket week, which runs from August 16-22 and includes a Beer Festival on the final few days for a club who should have plenty to toast.
Best of the rest
You could hardly blame Old Whitgiftians for being keen to get a game on, their 47-run victory over strugglers Churt opening up a 20-point gap over third-placed Old Hamptonians in Division Three.
Not surprisingly, it was a low-scoring affair, OWs having opener Syed Fawad (35) and Ahsan Salim (24) to thank for leading them to 127 all out despite Matt Crane’s 5-32 from nine overs.
The visitors were never in the hunt, sinking to 29-5, and wicketkeeper Arran Higgins (17) made the highest score as they were despatched for 80. Krish Patel and Shaz Rana’s 3-2 finished the job.
Division Five managed two matches, excitement being in more generous supply than runs at Ashford, where SinjunGrammarians were beaten by one wicket. Wendell Sebastian was the hero for the hosts, following 5-46 – dismissing the Wandsworth side for 114 – by making 32 at the top of the reply. It still needed last pair David Merchant (12no) and Jamie Tilt (2no) to inch them over the finishing line.
As expected, the first of the promotion and relegation issues was settled as the Championship’s basement team, Byfleet, had their season-long struggle against the drop confirmed.
They inserted Egham and saw them reach 182-8 from 37.5 overs, Michael Ramsbottom’s 70 heading the attack against an attack led by Charlie Black (3-42). Byfleet’s wobbly batting once more failed to fire, being dismissed for 85 with the final five wickets falling for four runs. Shivam Mishra cleaned up by claiming 5-7 in 3.1 overs.
Bowl out success
The rain refused to release it’s grip on the weekend, which meant Weybridge’s second attempt to play their ECB National Championship last 16 tie at Ealing on Sunday went the same way as the first two weeks earlier.
That meant a bowl out, which was standing at 2-2 until Joe Barrs stepped up to deliver the killer blow and take Weybridge into a quarter-final date with Bath at home, scheduled for Sunday August 22.