Club captain Richard Feist top scorer to lead his 2nd XI to victory, but his side's success was the only one for Merstham on a boiling start to the season.
For the first team, Gus Locke and Asim Jafferi both took wickets on the first day of the Surrey Championship, but, having held Old Pauline to a reasonable target of 183, Merstham’s batting let them down in their Division Five match at Quality Street as they coudl only must 91 in reply.
Locke took 2-22 from his 10 overs, including four maidens, bowling opener Ollie Ratnatunga for 26 and trapping Chris Baker-Brain lbw for a duck. That spell meant Old Pauline’s promising start of 48-1 had quickly become 58-3.
However, Tom Rigby (33) and Sures Lala (34) put on 48 for the fourth wicket before Humayoon Nasir (1-29) also had success with an lbw appeal to get rid of Rigby.
Jafferi then had Lala caught behind by Ed Dawson at 135-5, prompting a mini collapse when he also bowled Upneet Arora (0), while Noman Javed, returning to the attack for his second spell, had Joe Harris caught and bowled for 19.
Will Preston claimed a run out as Old Pauline finished on 183-9.
Merstham’s reply began badly when captain Laurie Nicholson fell lbw without scoring and keeper Dawson was bowled for 2, both gone to Chris Berkett (2-4 from five overs).
Ali Pervaiz (7), returning to the Merstham fold, and Javed steadied matters until Pervaiz was given out lbw at 36-3. Javed soon followed, caught by Arora for 24 before he could build a partnership with experienced hand Sunny Bowry, who made his way to 30 to put the hosts on 74-6. After that, only Jafferi offered any resistance as Merstham were dismissed in the 32nd over for 91.
The second team were the only Saturday adult team to emerge victorious, knocking off hosts Ripley’s 129 for the loss of five wickets.
After asking Ripley to bat - a theme developed, with all four Merstham teams asking their opponents to do so, assuming pitches would continue to dry in the sun - Merstham took wickets at regular intervals. They began by removing both openers to leave the score 21-2, Safyan Aslam (1-20) and Afsar Khan (1-15) claiming those early breakthroughs.
Imran Aslam (3-17) then proved a big thorn in Ripley’s side, with Ameer Pasha taking 2-32 and Mohsin Ali 1-28, before Struan Clark struck 2-15 in 3.3 overs to help wrap up the innings.
Although Merstham lost Mark Beckford early in the reply, fellow opener Mohsin Ali’s 26 helped steadied Merstham as the visitors lost three other batsmen cheaply, leaving them 45-4. Jack Letts (32 not out) and captain Richard Feist (35) pushed Merstham close to the winning line, before Ameer Pasha (18 not out) and Letts steered them home.
On a glorious day at The Ring, the pitch was in excellent condition considering the recent damp weather for the third team. Merstham won the toss and asked Purley to bat hoping the pitch would dry out and become easier to bat as the day went on, writes James Lowe.
This looked an excellent decision as Purley were 90-8 after some fantastic bowling from Syed Baralay 3-17, Tom Chellis 1-39, Omer Shuja 3-23 and Alvin Sathya 2-14.
Unfortunately, the Purley tail wagged and Webber and Mallett moved the score onto 171. The Merstham captain was delighted that his young side were able to bowl out a good team in 39.2 overs, under the allocated 50.
Merstham started the reply in similar fashion to Purley and were 79-8, Matt Lehain top scoring with 26. The Merstham tail wagged a little and Purley were starting to get nervous as Shuja (11) and James Lowe (25) moved the score past 120.
Alas, the Merstham tail were unable to take the team home, as with overs ticking by and the required run rate increasing they were out on 124 trying to take the attack to the 5th and 6th Purley bowlers.
The fourth team (pictured above courtesy Jayne Calafato) inserted Dorking on a wicket they thought would dry further at Westhumble, little knowing that their opponents had some big hitters at the top of the innings. Three of the first four treated affairs like a Twenty20 match and reached 100 by 15 overs.
The run rate slowed in the middle of the innings, but it proved a temporary reprieve, with dropped catches and too many extras proving critical.
After the second drinks break Dorking pushed on again, settling for 270. Wickets were taken by young openers Brennan Calafato (1-50) and Josh Young (2-45), who deserved better figures for their efforts.
Others to take wickets were new face this season Zain Abideen (1-59, eventually bowling the No 4 for 33), plus captain Gopa Nair (1-20, caught Wood) and his vice captain Ian Lamont (1-26, courtesy of Kashif Noon’s catch).
Keeper Rob Wood took two catches behind and only conceded three byes, before being the only one who could muster some proper practice in the impossible run chase, scoring 26. Merstham lasted 31 overs but only struck 47, with Young not out on seven at the end. It transpired that Dorking had had an influx of players, resulting in their lower teams being strengthened through a filtering down process.