Chertsey 2XI vs Epsom 2XI – 25.08.18
By Tom Nickels
An understrength Epsom side battled hard but ultimately came off second best against champions Chertsey.
A few last minute availability issues led to some frantic phone calls on Saturday morning and a number of players adjusted their plans with a last minute call up from the 4XI. This is not ideal in the best of circumstances and with an away trip to Chertsey, who were already confirmed as league champions, Epsom knew they would have to be on top form to take anything from the game.
Stand in skipper Nickels lost the toss and so Epsom took to the field. Openers Compton and Shahid found some good areas but the odd loose ball was put ruthlessly away by the opening batsmen as Chertsey kicked off with a healthy run rate. 2XI debutant Shahid then struck twice in quick succession removing opener Bussey and No3 Wiggins to bring Epsom back into their game. Compton had the other opener Duffy caught behind a few overs alter to make it 52-3. This was shortly 73-5 as two more wickets fell to first change bowlers Patel and Jones and Epsom found themselves in a strong position. Opposition skipper Boast and Skelton then dug in and batted sensibly, running well and dispatching the odd bad ball. With spin at both ends (the veteran Patel being partnered by young Alex Wileman), Epsom managed to cut off the boundaries but could not completely tie down the Chertsey pair or find the crucial breakthrough. After an excellent spell from Patel (1-32 off 10) Wileman senior came into the attack but by now the Chertsey batsmen were set and were able to accelerate towards a commanding total. Skelton was eventually caught on the boundary by Allen off Jon Wileman’s bowling but Boast kept the run rate going and completed a well made century as Chertsey finished on 260 from their 50 overs. Despite the big total Epsom never lost heart in the field and could take positives from their efforts, including solid spells of bowling from youngsters Compton and Wileman.
Chasing a large total always requires a strong start. Unfortunately the Epsom reply never really got going in the face of accurate bowling from the Chertsey openers. Runs proved hard to come by and wickets fell at consistent intervals. Allen dug in and occupied the crease but was also not really able to break free as the Chertsey first change bowlers proved equally accurate. At 50-4 Jones came to the crease hoping to shake off last week’s golden duck and he did the best job of all the Epsom batsmen of manoeuvring the ball around and punishing the odd loose one. Allen eventually departed for a resolute 28 but the following batsmen found it equally difficult to get on top of the bowling and the run rate continued to rise and rise. Jones continued to look good and formed an entertaining 8th wicket partnership with Shahid as Epsom completed their innings on 169-7 – Jones finishing on 61*.
Chertsey showed why they are champions with a strong all round performance and there was no disgrace in losing to them. Epsom can take some consolation from their days work, having caused the top team in the league some trouble with the initial flurry of wickets and then remaining positive in the field when the runs started to flow. Some promising individual performances also bode well for the future. Next week Epsom travel to Woking for the final game of the season.