Bronze medal confirmed as Ashtead continue winning streak
By Martyn Holloway-Neville
Ashtead secured third place in the 2018 Championship Premier Division with a strong 6-wicket win at Banstead
9 games unbeaten and 4 wins in a row. Ashtead, by beating Banstead by 6 wickets on Saturday, have confirmed themselves in 3rd place in the 2018 Surrey Championship Premier Division, the highest ever finish for this team.
Ashtead won the toss (that’s 12 out of 17, by the way, for a side that always struggled with the coin flip) and elected to field – a good decision, given a wet outfield that would dry throughout the day and damp patches on a wicket that would hopefully calm as the game progressed.
The regular opening bowlers of late, Harshil Patel and Damien Shirazi, were working hard again and, as we have come to expect, Harshil struck early with a pair of wickets to leave the hosts on 12-2 after 5 overs. Shirazi, whilst not finding the wickets column, was very economical and the run scoring was kept to a bare minimum.
When Sam Homes entered the attack in place of Patel, the scoreline was 36-2 after 12 overs. By drinks, after 26 overs, Banstead had been reduced to 62-5. Homes Snr claimed all three of those strikes, first despatching the set opening batsman for 14. He then claimed the prize wickets of Neil Baker (with Guy Harper taking an astounding catch running from square leg to short fine leg with a full-stretch dive) and Tom Lancefield (with David White pouching a difficult effort that went extremely high).
After drinks, the lower order settled, and the runs began to flow a touch easier. Despite the erstwhile Tom Deighton removing the Banstead overseas for an innings high score of 34, wickets dried up and with 6 overs to go, the hosts sat on 124-6 and looked set to pile on the runs in the final overs.
Returning to the fray, it would be Patel and Tom Homes that mopped up the tail, with three late wickets for Homes Jnr sealing Banstead’s fate on 154 all out with a ball to spare. Hayden Storey, the Stags’ young wicketkeeper, was kept busy all innings and finished with 2 catches and 3 stumpings to his name.
The chase was conducted in a much more positive way than the hosts produced, with the winning combination of Michael Sanderson and David White piling on the runs again. Sanderson would provide a solid anchor for the innings, freeing his colleagues to play more expansively.
They added 71 for the first wicket, with the opening fast bowlers being driven and cut to all parts of the ground. White would be the first to go, breaking his run of 4 half-centuries in a row with a score of 49, LBW to spin. With Guy Harper also falling quickly, wickets would come in pairs.
Conor Young joined Sanderson at the crease and proceeded to play with his usual gusto and attack. Highlights in his innings included 2 sixes off Tom Lancefield, usually so incisive against the Stags but seemingly unable to find any weapons at all. His three overs would go for 26 as Ashtead neared the total.
Young would eventually be out LBW to spin for 50, and with Shirazi also falling swiftly, it would be left to Hayden Storey to finish the innings off – with Sanderson, who patiently toiled for a solid 32 not out. The total was eclipsed in the 26th over, with a rate of exactly a run a ball – nearly twice as fast as the opposition. The difference in form and ability was clear.
This victory, as stated in the headline, guarantees Ashtead 3rd place in the 2018 Championship with a game to spare. Their final outing of the campaign will be at Wimbledon, who lie 5th. Last week saw them defeat a strong Sunbury side (and in so doing, confirmed Ashtead’s bronze medal), and the previous game played this year saw Wimbledon powerfully chase down a strong Ashtead total.
Let’s see if the Stags can finish on a 5-game win streak and a 10-game unbeaten run. Join us then.