Another day, yet the same result. Ashtead continued a shaky start to 2019 with a 7-wicket defeat in their first game on the road, as they visited Sunbury in Round 2 of the 2019 Surrey Championship Premier League.
Ashtead won the toss and elected to bat at a venue that typically allows for big runs, with a good wicket and a fast outfield. And, while steady, the initial overs seemed to confirm the theory. Amith Sarma, back from international duty, and Michael Sanderson made some early shots and looked to build a solid platform for the rest of the innings.
Wickets, however, were to come in pairs throughout most of the Stags’ innings and it would be Sanderson who bought it first, LBW for 23. Next in was the captain, David White, but was given out on his second ball. 36-2.
Sarma continued steadily, with Harri Aravinthan as his partner, and the runs kept flowing gently. However, the new young bowler Matt Harpur kept up the pressure, and it eventually paid off as Harri snicked off for 8. Sarma was to be the other half of the wicket pair this round, falling for 24. 59-4 after 15 overs, and Ashtead were in real trouble.
The middle order of Conor Young and Hayden Storey started slowly, restabilising the innings and moving the scoreboard along. As is often the case with this pair, the scoring rate began to shoot up, especially when Young began to attack the boundaries, including two big hits to clear the ropes. However, with big runs come big risks – and the pair were to fall within an over of each other. 129-6 with 20 overs to go was always going to be a challenge to get a reasonable score.
And despite the best efforts of the lower order and the tail, it proved to be the case. Tom Homes and Tom Laudy provided some stability while Prince Singh went hard on the offensive. Ashtead were bowled out for 213 all out with 8 balls to spare. Low but potentially competitive.
The innings got off to the best possible start when Prince scuppered one of the Sunbury openers for a golden duck. 1-1. John Maunders, the Sunbury skipper, and Sam Burgess went for the varied approach and this paid dividends for them. Maunders sat in and accumulated slowly. Burgess went after the bowlers, swinging merrily. The scoring rate went up and the target required went down.
It took the change of bowlers to break the deadlock, with Burgess departing after an excellent catch from White in the slips for 46. This could have been the moment for the visitors to take control, but instead the runs continued to flow. Chances were not forthcoming, and all too soon the milestones began to be chalked up.
Prince’s return to the action brought immediate results as the bails were dislodged again, Rajan Soni departing for 54. A chance, perhaps? Perhaps not. Maunders, ever-present and ever a thorn in Ashtead’s side, guided the side home and finished on an unbeaten 77. Sunbury reached the target with a little under 6 overs to spare.
That result, and others around the county, leaves Ashtead in 8th place in the league table, top of the sides yet to claim a victory. Next week sees Sutton travel to Woodfield Lane for the third of the opening set of 50 over matches. Sutton currently lie joint-top of the table with victories over Wimbledon and last years champions, Weybridge. Sutton hosted this fixture in 2018 and ended the victors by 16 runs.
Also, a reminder that Bank Holiday Monday sees Ashtead host Rounds 2 and 3 of the David Edwards T20 Cup, with Ashtead vs Kempton the first match.
Let’s see if Ashtead can win on this occasion. Join us then.