Nicholson ton leads firsts to win: Saturday round up

  • July 8, 2019
  • Ian Lamont

Merstham returned to winning ways with a complete all-round performance against league leaders Old Emmanuel in Surrey Championship Division Five, with captain Laurie Nicholson scoring a century and bowler Asim Jafferi taking five wickets.

Merstham elected to bat on what looked to be a very good Quality Street surface.

The innings didn't get off to a perfect start however, with leading run scorer Ed Dawson (8) succumbing to Akhtar Ali (3-53 from 14 overs) in the third over. Debutant Finn Harris (4) showed promise at the top of the order and looked composed against the Old Emmanuel openers. He was unfortunate to fall to a rising shorter delivery, and the Magics were left at 35-2.

With captain Nicholson (115) and Simon Rivers (32) at the crease Merstham began to rebuild. Nicholson was accumulating nicely against the three-pronged spin attack. Watchful at first, Rivers moved through the gears with some expansive shots and again looked in fine touch. The pair added 65 for the third wicket before Rivers fell to the spin of Sajid Ahmed (1-53 from 14 overs).

Ben Baker (30) arrived at the crease and continued the steady flow of runs, dovetailing nicely with the captain. Whilst the wicket was proving receptive to spin, Merstham were aware that with the good pitch combined with a rapid outfield a score of 240 plus would be needed. When Baker fell to Old Emmanuel skipper Naveed (22-1 from 5 overs) the score had moved to 177, and the platform had been laid.

Nicholson continued to bat fluently and bought up his century with a push into the offside. After his dismissal in the 48th over to Fayyaz Hashmat (3-64 from 12 overs) George Chellis (25) played calmly along with Mohsin Ali (13 not out) to ensure that Merstham finished on an above par 248 from 53 overs.

Merstham were pleased with their batting efforts but understood a side as strong as Old Emmanuel were capable of chasing down any total on such a good wicket and would be pushing for the win to continue their imperious form in the league so far.

These fears were realised when the Emmanuel openers started in an aggressive fashion. Sumit Kumar (38) in particular looked dangerous as he plundered 5 boundaries from the opening few overs.

It was clear that the Merstham bowlers needed to stick to their plans, and the managed to remain calm in the face of the early onslaught. Humayon Nasir (1-54 from 10 overs) managed to break the opening partnership, and the returning Lithon Tarofder (3-55 from 13 overs) picked up regular wickets.

Emmanuel had slumped from 31-0 to 68-5 thanks not only to the accurate bowling but also a succession of smart catches from William Preston and Asim Jafferi. Merstham in general had a good fielding performance which would be a large factor in their win.

Asim Jafferi (5-51 from 13.2 overs) bowled exceptionally. At times his pace was simply too much for the Emmanuel batsman, and as the run rate crept up he was able to pick up wickets.

It was not until Emmanuel had fallen to 177-8 that they began to change tact and start batting for the draw. Sajid Ahmed (61 not out) proved to be wily in farming the strike, and Merstham were becoming exasperated as the overs slipped away.

Ultimately Jafferi began his final over with the Old Emmanuel number 11 on strike, and it felt like the last chance to secure the victory. Jafferi duly delivered to the delight of his teammates, keeping Merstham clear of the bottom two as they continue to strive towards the top end of a hotly contested fifth division.

The second team were given a massive target of 263-4 to chase, by hosts Old Hamptonians. Bobby Sharp took two of the wickets, and played a part in the other, catching one opener off Nav Saeed. Will Matthews had the other stumped. Imran Rashid bagged a century for the hosts in a punishing day in the field for the visitors, who inserted their hosts.

In reply, Saeed made a decent start with 22, Amir Pasha went for nought, Haseeb Qureshi took 54 including nine fours, Ben Hatton (27) and Will Matthews (24) contributed in the middle order, but the tale couldn't wag very hard apart from Imran Aslam (21) at number nine. Merstham were all out for 187 in 38 overs.

At the Ring, there were nearly 500 runs scored as a mix of the third team and future third /fifth team players took part in a friendly, after the third team was called off by Epsom on Thursday.

Shakir Khan (39) got some practice at the top of the order with Jack Letts (29), while Zee Murtaza struck 57 and Struan Clark 55 as the "third" team made 245-4 from 40 overs.

Of the eight bowlers, the experience hands of James Lowe (1-22), George Corrie (1-23) Mitchael Pitcher (1-46) and Ashar Sed (1-24) took the wickets, while Ben Carter (0-17 with two maidens) was the most economic.

In the field, the third team faced the blistering batting of openers David Reeves (75) and Ashar Syed (86) who set about the total as if they had a party to go to (Mark Robson's. Who knew?). Their partnership, broken when Matt Greaves had Reeves caught by Steve Duncan, set up a commanding position (Greaves also ran out Syed) before Luca Retter notched 23 to out-bat his brother (who had scored 21 not out for the threes). Then Ben Carter (11) and Corrie (30) steered the fifth team over the line after 31 overs.

Duncan also had Retter caught by Tony Rickards along the way.

The fourth team escaped to victory, making heavy weather of it against what turned out to be a week Addiscombe side. Electing to bat on a football pitch green wicket, because of the likely stronger batting line up, Ian Lamont was soon regretting the decision with two batsmen back in the Addington 1743 pavilion pretty quickly, courtesy of mistakes on the even bounce.

Kashif Noon did his best to hold up the innings from the front, scoring 30 and surviving three run out shouts before being dismissed on a fourth, when taking a tumble for a second time in the effort to make his ground.

The team were grateful for the experience of Ed Loader (31), blocking all the straight ones that stayed low - and tthere were a lot - until being bowled taking a risk to a straight one which appeared to go under his bat.

He build a great foundation with Asif Akhtar (24) as Merstham moved towards a defendable total. Rob Wood went for the big shots and hit 4, 1 and a straight 6 in a quick innings of 11 and then Merstham finished on 161 after 35.2 overs, more than four short of their allocated overs, on a therefore unnecessary run out. No matter. Their inexperienced hosts had conceded 51 extras, giving Merstham a defendable total if they could hold their nerve with the ball.

Fortunately, the total proved to be enough but only just. After the opening spell of bowling had been a little generous in giving Addiscombe's finest the chance to get a few quick runs, Afsar Khan, who injured his hamstring while batting, bravely started second change off a short run up. His injury gradually eased and he was able to bowl at more or less full pelt by the time he had completed his eight overs (2-33).

Akhat, across his two spells, bowled terrifically for 2-24 off eight while Harrish Jospeh bowled like a demon for 1-13 off five, like Akhtar delivering three maidens.

Even so, the Addiscombe No 7 was building the score too close to comfort. It took a loose ball - first ball - from wily, experienced off spinner Glen Mollan to tempt him into a long on swipe where Jason Kyte was waiting on the boundary. It was the catch that pushed the lid back on the bubbling score and the other batsmen proved less troublesome as Mollan went on to take 3-4 as an astute Rob Wood stumping soon followed, then a run out courtesy of Khan and in the end an lbw decision gave Merstham victory. Some of the fielding will still have to be tidied up for Merstham 4s to make proper progress, but the hosts were all out for 128, bowling changes proving judicious.

Pictures of the first team courtesy of Harry David