Ashtead starts as they mean to go on
By Martyn Holloway-Neville
Ashtead started with a flourish as they took an easy 57 run win against Maori Oxshott
We’re back. It’s the end of April and Ashtead CC are back out on the luscious grass of Woodfield Lane to begin their 2019 Premier Division campaign.
First up, a pre-season 40 over friendly against Maori Oxshott. The league positions of the two clubs would suggest a straightforward victory for the hosts, and with a 59-run victory, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. However, as cricket so often is, the match was not quite so straightforward.
The visitors won the toss and elected to field first, and the Ashtead openers immediately set out their stall. Tom Laudy opened up cautiously, although with a few offensive shots early on, while Hayden Storey was instantly on full attack. It was fun while it lasted, but by the end of the third over, he was gone, snared down the leg side for 19.
The pattern was set. Laudy would bat confidently at around a run a ball at his end and let the other batsman attack to the full. John Vaughan-Davies, the veteran left-hander, produced some excellent attacking flair, and claimed the first six of the new season. When he departed for 31 in the 14th over, the Stags were already up to 99-2. A very large total seemed in the offing.
Harri Aravinthan, new to the Ashtead set-up for 2019, showed plenty of elegant stroke-making but not much in the way of run-scoring. It meant a quieter period in the scoring, and when Harri departed for 6, Harry Williams would be required to bring up the scoring rate.
Laudy, meanwhile had passed 50 and was beginning to assert himself more forcefully, and together the pair upped the ante. 200 was passed in the 32nd over, and Williams immediately fell to a sharp caught and bowled effort. Tom Homes joined the fray, and showing some quick running between the wickets, aided Laudy to finish his century. A flurry of late runs saw Ashtead reach 249-4 off their 40 overs. A stiff test, but not an impossible one.
And the start of the chase seemed to show this well. Despite the loss of an early wicket, the visitors made hay off the bowling of Prince Singh and Tayler Young. Aravinthan and Homes were brought in to quell the charge, yet at 77-1 after 13 overs, hope sprung eternal of an improbable Maori victory.
The hope was snuffed out in two parts. First, a double strike to remove both the set batsmen and kill the momentum. 77-3 looked far weaker. A period of consolidation followed, but all that was ruined by Tom Deighton and Williams, claiming three wickets in two overs to leave Maori at 124-6, leading another 126 runs with 14 overs remaining and lower order batsmen to try and get them.
The fightback was valiant, but in vain, and the return of Young saw the wickets flow again. A mini-collapse in the final over saw the tail have to bat out, and the innings finished with a whimper rather than a roar.
This result started an excellent weekend for the Stags, who went on to defeat Bromley (a Kent Cricket League Division 1 side) in Round 1 of the 2019 Royal London Club Championship. This means they will host Bexley CC, of the Kent Premier League, in Round 2.
Next week sees Ashtead host Camberley in their second and final pre-season fixture. Camberley finished 4th in the Surrey Championship Division 1 in 2018, and were in contention for potential promotion for much of the campaign. A tough test for the Stags as they prepare for a visit from Reigate Priory to start the 2019 league season. Join us then.