No 10-game streak for the Stags, but third place secure
Wimbledon were runaway 188-run victors in Ashtead's final game of 2018.
And so another season comes to an end. With third place, and the best position for Ashtead in the Surrey Championship, already secured, the Stags travelled to Wimbledon, site of a 6-wicket battering the previous year.
Ashtead won the toss for a thirteenth time in 2018 (incidentally, equalling Wimbledon’s total) and €chose to field on a pitch that would be good for batting on all day through. And so it proved to be, at least in part.
The Wimbledon openers got off to a flier, as Harshil Patel and Aaron Rose failed to make any inroads in the early overs. Wimbledon also had nothing to lose, with a mid-table finish secured, and went on the attack from the very first ball. After 10 overs, Wimbledon were 55-0 and cruising.
Enter spin. Tom Homes was brought into the attack, and struck with his second ball, castling his opponent for 35 off just 31 balls. From there, the spinners toiled, but to no avail. The milestones began to build up – 100 runs, 50 partnership, both batsmen to 50, 150 runs, 100 partnership.
It would be Tom Deighton who finally broke through the Wimbledon pillage, removing the no. 3 batsman for 68. After 35 overs, the hosts had reached 170-2, but were in danger of stalling. And the Stags made them pay, for a time, with both Sam and Tom Homes striking gold – both with the aid of some fast hands from wicketkeeper Hayden Storey. With 6 overs to go, Wimbledon had faltered to 219-4. Keeping the total down was, indeed, possible.
Not if the remaining opener and his new partner had anything to say. Together, they plundered 81 from the final 6 overs. Sixes were ringing out all around the ground. The opener, Nick Welch, finished on an unbeaten 115 from 128 balls. His counterpart, James Brown, made 47 from 27. 300-4 the final score.
The Ashtead chase got off to the worst possible start as Michael Sanderson edged to slip off the very first ball of the innings. It got worse in the fifth over as returnee Harry Williams edged to the keeper for 8. 17-2 the score.
The Ashtead overseas, David White, and his partner Conor Young had fun while it lasted, swinging and connecting with increasing regularity. The Wimbledon opening bowlers seemingly had no answer, until Young edged behind for 31.
While White was still in, hope remained. Yet a dramatic catch from the Wimbledon overseas would dispatch him for 31, and the flood gates would then open. The first change bowler from the other end would claim 3 wickets in consecutive overs, and spin would do the rest. Ashtead were blown away for 118 in just 28.4 overs.
Despite this being the only game in which Ashtead scored 0 points in 2018, they retain the mighty position of third in the Surrey Championship Premier Division, defeating much more established teams with star-studded ranks.
This season has, as usual, been full of highs and lows. The early part of the season was hard, but the turning point came in Game 7 with a crucial win at Normandy, following by a 9-game unbeaten run that only ended on the final day. Wins in both games came against Normandy, but Banstead, Cranleigh, East Molesey and Sunbury were also unable to beat the Stags.
Individually, Ashtead boasted the best batsman in the division, David White, with Guy Harper and Conor Young also making the top 20. Tom Homes reached third place in the bowling list, with Harshil Patel a respectable twelfth.
In a final round-up for the other Saturday sides, the 2nd XI lost to Wimbledon on Saturday and finished 7th in their Premier league. The 3rd XI beat Old Whitgiftians and finished a marvellous 3rd in their Premier league. The 4th XI lost to Purley, but were safe in 8th place in Division 1.
Finally, I want to thank you all for reading these reports during 2018, and for sharing in the joys and sorrows of Ashtead Cricket Club. I hope that when battle is renewed in May 2019, you will join me for the glorious ride through an English cricketing summer. This is Martyn Holloway-Neville, signing off. Join us then.