Scores level again in nail-biter at the Priory
304-7 plays 304-9. 5th draw of the year for the Stags
You really can’t make it up. For the second time this season, Ashtead ended up on a draw with the scores level at the end of the game. This was the scene at Reigate Priory, as the Stags completed an unbeaten July in Round 13 of the Surrey Championship Premier League.
Ashtead won the toss (that’s 9 out of 13 league games in 2018) and elected to bat first on a used surface that had some grass atop it. Despite some early maidens, David White and Ben Geddes made some early strides until Geddes was caught for 21. Conor Young entered the fray, and together with White, the score began to climb. At drinks after an hour, Ashtead were 59-1 off 16 and going well.
As usual, however, the break in play brings a wicket – or, in this case, three. Young, caught at slip for 18. Guy Harper, the Ashtead run machine of 2018, caught behind for no score. Damien Shirazi, who saw the Stags home against Sutton last week, LBW for 4. The visitors were now 79-4 and potentially in deep trouble.
David White, until this game, had scored 340 runs in 11 innings, with 4 scores between 50 and 61. When he was dropped, in a regulation manner, on just 7, this writer remarked that ‘today was going to be his day’. What a piece of foretelling that turned out to be.
White and Sam Homes steadied the ship and saw the side safely through to the lunch interval. 119-4 off 31. Following the break, both batsmen pushed on and with spin ineffective at both ends, the runs flowed freely. 12 overs after lunch, when a brief rain shower momentarily halted play, White was on 99 and the score had reached 192-4. White completed his century off 122 balls.
There were more runs to come. Despite losing Sam Homes for 42, Hayden Storey and then Tom Homes provided a useful foil for White to continue his barrage. He finally fell attacking the boundary in the 64th over, which brought the declaration. White had scored 152 off 182 balls, and the total now read 304-7.
The second innings started very quickly for the hosts, with Richard Oliver applying his trademark attacking mentality to bludgeon a quick 36. His partner, Andrew Delmont, and his replacement, Bradley Scriven, continued to cause problems and at tea, Priory were 94-1 and cruising to the target.
Despite plenty of bowling changes and a wide source of variety in pace, line and length, nothing seemed to break the deadlock. Both batsmen crossed 50, and the partnership reached 93 when Scriven holed out to White off Tom Deighton. 163-2.
Drinks after a couple more overs brought another wicket, as Delmont was bowled for 72. Wickets then dried up for a patch as skipper Chris Murtagh and wicketkeeper Sam Hall accumulated quickly and effectively. The double strike of Harshil Patel to remove the pair of them stunted the charge. With 9 overs to go and 5 wickets left, Priory needed 58 to win. A tight finish on the cards.
Too tight, as it turned out. 4 overs to go and the equation now read 23 to win, still with 5 wickets left. Then wickets began to fall. Tom Homes claimed the first and second, but with runs continuing to flow, the task seemed hopeless.
Sam Homes would bowl the final over. 4 to win. 3 wickets left. Wicket off the first ball. Dot for the second. WICKET for the third ball. Priory now need 4 from 3 balls with 1 wicket left. They got three of them. Close but no cigar.
That draw sees Ashtead remain in 6th place in the league table, bringing them ever closer to safety. Next week sees the Stags travel to Sunbury for the return of 50 over cricket. The timed fixture at the beginning of June was a tight draw. Let’s see if Ashtead can rediscover winning ways. Join us then.