Merstham beat Surrey Championship Division Five leaders Chertsey by five wickets thanks to Noman Javed’s outstanding 139 not out.
The Quality Street club travelled to Chertsey looking to bounce back after a performance against Kempton. They did not get off to the best start when, having just won the toss and chosen to bowl, the captain was informed that due to severe traffic both opening bowlers and the front line spinner would miss the start.
Merstham took to the field with eight, and Gus Locke (1-43) and part time seamer Will Preston (1-31) looked to contain with what was very limited fielding cover. Both bowled well, especially in Preston’s case, keeping a nagging line and length in what was his first outing with the ball all season.
Sunny Bowry (2-43) provided some control on a pitch which suited the slower bowlers. The arrival of the three absent bowlers allowed Humayoon Nasir (2-48) to exploit this as well, bowling his 14 over allocation uninterrupted. Asim Jaffry (0-30) also bowled well at the death to limit the Chertsey batsmen’s attempt to increase the run rate.
Merstham persevered through the heat and managed to contain Chertsey to 233 from 49.5 overs. While they felt they had fielded and bowled well, the victory still seemed an unlikely task due to the pitch and Merstham’s batting record to date, and Chertsey’s strong bowling attack.
The Merstham innings started off poorly again, with Jason Kyte, Andy Rivers, and Captain Laurie Nicholson departing early to leave the score at 18-3. What followed however was a dominant, match-winning display of batting by Merstham all-rounder Javed.
In his classic counter-attacking style, Noman began to dispatch the Chertsey attack to all parts, including some towering sixes over mid-on and expansive drives over the covers. He was ably supported by the impressive Locke (27) and the classy George Chellis (36) who looked confident on his debut outing for the first XI.
The day, though, belonged to Javed who completed his second successive unbeaten hundred at this ground, and ended on 139 not out hitting the winning runs over the bowler’s head with eight overs to spare and five wickets in hand.
Nicholson said: “Whilst he has been excellent with the ball this year, Noman hasn’t been at his best with the bat so far by his own high standards. I know he has been eager to contribute and it was a pleasure to see him bat like that and win us the game.”
The second team held out for a draw at home to Sinjun Grammarians, having been asked to bowl.
Sinjuns were eventually all out for 208, Asim Ashraf (3-32) ending the consternation caused by Naveed Sarwar’s 70 by bowling him out. Mohsin Ali (3-30) and Mark Beckford (3-26) were the other main wicket takers.
In reply, Merstham lost Ali early, then Joe Benson (35) and Damiyan Skakeel (20) put on 44 for the second wicket before Benson was adjudged leg before.
However, the hosts were from 79-3 to 103-7 with only Ashraf on 31 not out offering true resistance as Merstham had to hang on to finish on 153-9.
The third team had an extremely short match, being dismissed for 51 at a strong Addiscombe team, after 20 overs. Kashif Noon top scored with 12.
There was little Merstham could do as Addiscombe raced to the target in eight overs without loss.
Never mind the first team beating the leaders, the fourth team victory was christened the miracle match well before the first innings had even ended.
It was largely on account of first Tony “safe hands” Rickards catching a high dropping ball off his chest on the off side, then by Michael Pitch who celebrated as if he had won the Ashes after taking a catch in the deep on the leg side. He's been known to drop a few...
The Addiscombe skipper just couldn’t deal with one spin ball close to his feet from Matt Lehain and clipped the edge of his bat as he tried to block, only for wicketkeeper Rob Wood to leap low to his right to take the catch.
As it turned out, the visitors to the dust bowl at the Ring had a couple of other big hitters. Merstham were glad to see the back of Farrouq 23 and Tommy Smith on 39 (caught Steve Pennock in the gully off Lehain, 2-32) as the visitors went from 79-2 to 129-9.
During that time Gopa Nair took a double wicket maiden straight after a drinks break on his way to 3-5 from four overs, while Chris Greaves, a late replacement for his son Matt who was feeling unwell, was the man who bowled the chance for Pitcher’s huge celebration.
Merstham were then convinced they’d taken the last wicket caught behind, but the umpire was unmoved and the final pairing went on to make Addiscombe’s total 191 before a declaration at a daringly early 42 overs.
This gave Merstham 48 overs to chase, having made 180 a week before chasing 280 while changing tactics to try to draw mid-innings.
Pennock’s 19 was the best of the early order batsmen as Merstham found themselves 55-4 while keeping up with the required run rate.
Captain Nair (58 not out) and keeper Wood (60) played sensible innings, punishing the bad balls and Addiscombe’s young bowlers frustrated their captain, who felt he had to bowl his full 13 overs in an attempt to push for wickets.
The pair put on 126 for the fifth wicket before Wood shot one up in the air to the covers, decided to run but Nair stood firm and the keeper was run out. Nair finished the task with Asif Hayat in the 41st over, to give the fours a first victory over the Addiscombe counterparts that they can remember.