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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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