Stags claim the points in feisty affair
Ashtead ran out victors by 34 runs in a tight game at East Molesey
Another game at East Molesey. Another tight affair. And 24 points come the way of Ashtead, as they took the spoils by 34 runs in Round 10 of the 2018 Surrey Championship Premier Division.
East Molesey won the toss and elected to field first, believing that a chase would be the way to approach the game (incidentally, the Stags would have done the same). And the early overs would favour… the visitors, as Michael Sanderson and skipper David White scored well off the opening bowlers. It would take the introduction of spin to make the breakthrough for the hosts, as Sanderson chose to sweep and was trapped LBW for 13. 40-1.
East Molesey continued to persist with a pace-spin combination until after over 20, when a pair of fresh spin bowlers entered the fray – and were immediately effective. First to go was White, who was caught by the wicketkeeper for 57. Then followed Damien Shirazi, bowled for 7. 87-3.
Guy Harper and Conor Young saw the team through to the lunch interval but were stymied after the break and it would take the introduction of pace to get the runs flowing again. It also brought wickets, as both batsmen fell to bails flying, with Young’s wicket requiring a change of stump, chipped in the event. 150-5.
A flurry of runs from Ben Geddes and Sam Homes, the former producing some exquisite strokeplay, saw the Stags reach 200 during over 52. That same over saw the demise of Homes, stumped for 23, which precipitated a classic Ashtead collapse reminiscent of former years. The last 5 wickets, including Geddes for 40, fell for just 8 runs as the Stags were all out for 208.
In the 2017 edition of the fixture, it was Harshil Patel who caused the demise of East Molesey, and he was immediately in the wickets again, removing the hosts’ captain for just 5, Harper holding a sharp slip catch. Runs were hard to find in the early overs, and soon the wickets of the other opener, and danger batsman Sam Burge, fell too. 17-3.
Ashtead employed the seam-spin combination on both sides of the tea interval, but the batsmen played well and runs began to flow. As usual in these games, one wicket often produces another and two fell in consecutive overs. Patel and Tom Homes the culprits, both LBW. 52-5.
A partnership then developed again, as Simon Barrett and Andrew Westphal scored well and piled on the pressure. Sometimes in cricket, a moment can completely change a game, and so it seemed to be when Westphal was adjudged run out for 31, with his replacement falling LBW to his first delivery in the next over. 119-7, with 30 overs still to play.
Just as before, following two quick wickets, a partnership was forged, with Barrett and his new partner Matt Tigg causing yet more issues for the spin bowlers. When Harshil Patel returned for his fourth spell (with figures of 3-47), the hosts were less than 50 runs from victory and looking dangerous.
But Patel was not to be denied, with wickets in consecutive overs to despatch Barrett and Jonathan Fawcett, breaking the resistance and hastening the end. With the target raised just a little higher for the awarding of some penalty runs, the task seemed unachievable, and was ended the very next ball as Tom Homes claimed his third wicket. East Molesey were all out for 179.
That win sees Ashtead remain in 8th place in the standings, due to results around them, but they increased the gap to the relegation zone and moved to within a win of 3rd place in the table.
Next week sees Weybridge come to Woodfield Lane. Weybridge lie second in the table, and Game 1 of the 2018 league saw Weybridge easy victors. The 2017 timed fixture, however, saw Ashtead chase down 256 to win at the Lane. Let’s see if the Stags can do it again. Join us then.