Tough season's start for Merstham: weekly match round-up

  • May 13, 2019
  • Ian Lamont

Merstham 1st XI begin the season with an enthusiastic outlook in the Surrey Championship Division Five. With the return of Ammar Tahir and Simon Rivers to the 1st XI ranks, in addition to some promising new members, they go in to the 2019 season with arguably their most rounded squad in recent years.


Albeit star all-rounder Noman Javed undoubtedly will be a miss early in the season, prior to his potential return later in the year.


The first game against Alleyn’s, who missed out on promotion last term by the narrowest of margins, was always going to prove a stern test of this new look side. With rain in the air and a slightly damp pitch the correct call at the toss and decision to bowl seemed like an early victory.

Merstham proceeded to bowl well in the opening 10 overs, with new look partnership Amir Jaffry and Tahir restricting the Alleyn’s batsman and beating the outside edge on multiple occasions, both unfortunate not to pick up a wicket.


The Alleyn’s top order managed to accelerate the run rate through the middle of their innings to good effect, although the spin partnership of Simon Rivers and Humayoon Nasir was promising, with Rivers picking up two wickets on his return to the club.


With the Alleyn’s skipper at the crease showing great touch and control the final 10 overs proved productive for the opposition, and following multiple rain delays the home side posted an above par 191 from 41 overs, later adjusted to 222 under Duckworth Lewis.


An excellent batting performance would be required for the Magics to secure the victory, but with their bolstered batting they were confident they could have a good go.


Merstham started their chase watchfully, and new addition James Coggins seemed at ease against the new ball.


Unfortunately, Merstham were never able to keep up with the rate, and after a number of disappointing dismissals they found themselves 55-5.


The lower order managed to push the total to a more respectable 135 all out, although Merstham were never truly threatening in the run chase, and were restricted by an accurate and varied Alleyn’s bowling attack.


A disappointing start for the 1st XI then, but plenty of promise for the year ahead with a strong squad and an unquestionable team spirit.


The second team secured the only victory of the weekly from the club's Saturday teams. They scored 222-9 at Quality Street in their alloted overs and bowled out Addiscombe for 93 in 31 overs.


The third team bowled out hosts Ewell for 175, but could only manage 132 in reply.


The forecast rain missed God’s own country down at the Ring, where the fourth XI began the season-long 40-over format with a narrow, five-run defeat to Cheam, who were easily the second strongest side in the division last season.

Asif Akhtar’s stunning return as an opening bowler (six maidens, 1-2) helped restrict the visitors early doors to 9-2 and then just 30 off the first 10 overs, with young Luca Retter at the other end (2-27) also picking up a wicket in his opening spell.


Cheam, though, attacked especially after drinks and it was only in Retter’s second spell that top scorer Khan was dismissed for 87, Rob Wood’s second caught behind of the day.


George Corrie’s consistency also kept the runs down until the final throws when Cheam chased every hint of a run, with wickets in hand. That tactic resulted in three run-outs in Ben Snelling’s final over, Michael PItcher claiming one in this spell having already helped to snaffle the dangerous looking Chris Donald. The visitors reached 200-9, something few teams achieved in 45 overs previously.


The early stages of Merstham’s reply were equally slow, as the openers were seen off, before Matt Hill started the march of the big hitters, he and Akhtar putting on 79 for the fifth wicket which put the fourth team well in with a chance of winning. Rob “no byes” Wood smacked one of  only two six of the innings in a blistering 37 not out, as John Young (7), Corrie (11) and Snelling (18) all attacked, sensing the run rate was achieveable.


There was still a chance in the final over, with 13 needed, but it wasn’t to be although Retter did his best to give the final ball a smack for the required six.