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
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
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
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
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
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.