Surrey Championship Division Five
After two successive wins Merstham lost to hosts Kempton by four wickets.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Merstham made steady process with new opening partners George Neal (12) and Jason Kyte (11) reaching 26-0 off the first 10 overs.
As has become a regular fixture of Merstham’s batting this season they then lost three quick wickets in the space of two overs to leave the score on 28-3.
Noman Javed (27) and skipper Laurie Nicholson (36) provided some stability, with Javed in particular counterattacking effectively before being well caught in the covers. Gus Locke (25) then joined Nicholson and continued the rebuilding efforts.
Again Merstham lost wickets in clusters, moving from 113-4 to 119-6. Dawson (13) again looked good until adjudged LBW, and Will Preston (21) played positively before being caught behind.
Merstham were ruing a missed opportunity to post 200 plus from their allocation, and suffered from not having a set top order batsman at the crease towards the end of the innings. They finished on 175 all out from 48.5 overs.
Kempton started their innings with some early boundaries, and moved to 40 with relative ease.
Merstham then took an improbable three wickets in the space of three balls, starting with Nicholson taking a good catch at second slip off the bowling of Javed (1-36). Asim Jaffry (3-60) then took two wickets with the first two balls of his next over to leave Kempton 40-3.
Kempton replied with some solid partnerships, not without chances, but managed to get the game under control. George Neal (2-18) and Humayoon Nasir (0-34) bowled tightly to apply some pressure, but ultimately Kempton where able to finish off with 20 balls to spare.
Nicholson said: “It was a better all-round performance and I felt we batted well in periods, but ultimately we were still at least 25 runs short on what was a good batting pitch.”
The second team came up just 14 runs short of victory against Kingstonian in the Surrey Championship Division Four.
Merstham invited the visitors to bat at Quality Street and took an early wicket with just four scored, courtesy of Mohsin Ali (1-16 from 4). Other wickets fell just as pairings looked to settle, with 30 being the biggest for the sixth wicket, leaving the visitors 123-6.
Tim Jenkins’ tight 5-22 from 10 overs proved the catalyst for KIngstonian to only reach 152 from 47 overs, with Jack Letts taking 3-44 including a caught and bowled.
In reply, the hosts lost Ali without a run scored, but Jason Drewett (21) and Arham Ali (21) set a foundation that, on another day, could have set the platform for victory. But two wickets lost with the score on 109, leaving them seven down with the skipper Richard Feist out on 23, made the task a whole lot harder.
The hosts mustered another 30 runs but couldn’t stop the flow of wickets and Merstham were defeated after 38 overs.
In the 3rd XI East Division, the third team, losing the toss, batted first for the third week running but this time bowled out their opponents instead of having to settle for a draw.
George Chellis led the way to the teams 263-6 with an impressive innings of 132 before - exhausted - being stumped. He was the final wicket to fall on 228. Fergus Carrick was second best scorer with 56 in the 46 over innings.
Woodmansterne found the early pace of Afsar Khan (2-13) and fellow seamer Callum Letts (3-19) hard to defend, quickly losing wickets, with Carrick taking 3-11 also and James Lowe 2-19 to help finish off their hosts for 101 in the 35th over.
The fourth team again rattled up a good total - but chasing all-conquering leaders Sanderstead’s 279 was always going to be an exceptionally tough ask, even on the slick surface of the Ring. An eventual draw was always the likeliest best scenario for the hosts.
Put in to bat, the visitors didn’t score too quickly at first, restricted by the experienced Tony Rickards and aggressive bowling of youngster Brennan Calafato, whose early wicket was the first of 2-59.
Returning for a second spell after the first drinks break, Calafato at least had the satisfaction of denying one opponent a half century, dismissing him for 49 while, after the second drinks break, skipper Gopa Nair had Howard Daws caught and bowled for 90 with the first ball after the resumption. John Young and Rickards took the other wickets to give the hosts at least one bonus point from the bowling.
In response, after a wicket in the first over, Will Prior helped himself to 32 alongside Kashif Noon as Merstham’s run rate initially surpassed Sanderstead’s. However, when Prior and Young departed in quick succession, captain Nair entered the field determined to see out the draw from a long way out.
Noon continued to play flourishing shots on his way to an outstanding 74 not out (he also knocked up 73 not out on Sunday in a 60-over friendly against Smallfield) as Merstham mustered 180 in their 47 overs to frustrate their visitors.
In the past two seasons, Merstham 4s have been the only side to beat the eventual champions before they were crowned, but had to settle for a draw this time. The reverse game is on September 1, by which time Sanderstead will surely have won the title.