24 more points as Ashtead win again
By Martyn Holloway-Neville
5 wickets the margin at Woodbridge Road as Ashtead beat Guildford
The second game against the newly promoted. The same, happy result. Ashtead ran out the victors against Guildford in Round 9 of the 2019 Surrey Championship Premier Division. Their 5-wicket win looks convincing on paper but proved to be a touch more difficult than that.
Ashtead won the toss (that’s now 7 from 9 league games) and elected to field first, on a day that looked decent for batting, and a venue that typically had a hard wicket and a short boundary. Yet, as was the case last week, the opening bowlers immediately made solid inroads. Ben Sidwell and Harri Aravinthan (no Prince Singh today) kept the runs down. Two wickets in two balls for Sidwell saw the hosts immediately on the back foot at 5-2.
The fightback came very slowly, as the batsmen sought to accumulate rather than pillage. This approach, while maintaining wickets, made for a slow opening, and when Michael Sanderson held a very smart catch at short cover, the score read 23-3 after 12. Only one more wicket fell before lunch, with Sidwell again claiming the scalp. 72-4 after 33 overs made for pretty sorry reading – at least, for the hosts.
Spin had been a major feature before the break, with Tom Homes wheeling away at one end while Sidwell toiled at the other. And it would be Homes who now entered the wickets column for the first time, striking in the first over after lunch. Two more wickets fell shortly afterwards, one each for the two bowlers, and at 94-7, all hope seemed lost.
Yet, as teams so often do against Ashtead, the tail wagged. It took another two overs for Homes to take the final three wickets of the innings, and in that time, the hosts found another 53 runs. Not many of these seemed particularly safe, although Duncan Selmes batted well for his unbeaten 24. 147 all out was the final total, Homes finishing with 5-37 in his 25th over, and Sidwell 4-48 off 19.
148 may have initially seemed an innocuous target, but the Guildford innings had shown that runs were not easy to come by, and tight bowling would be richly rewarded. By 13 overs, that had proved correct as the top order was back in the pavilion and the visitors reeling at 47-4. Edges for all, although Hayden Storey did fall awkwardly off the back of the bat.
Conor Young and that man again, Harri Aravinthan, saw off a few more overs and seemed to be steering the Stags towards tea. Yet the loss of Young for 17 in the final over before the interval saw the side at 73-5. Half the wickets gone with just under half the runs scored. A dramatic final session beckoned.
As it happened, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been. Aravinthan, and his new partner Sam Homes, saw off the initial attacks and began to play some more expansive strokes. Most memorable of these was a classic straight drive from Sam, holding his pose well after he needed to, and a hacked slog six for Harri towards cow corner. The pair finished the job with an unbeaten partnership of 75 with plenty of time remaining. Aravinthan made 60, Homes 23.
This result continues Ashtead’s return to form and retains their 6th place in the league table, although with considerably more security than before. Next week sees the Stags travel to Reigate Priory for the next of the long format fixtures. Ashtead lost to the unbeaten Reigate in the first game of the 2019 season, but last year’s fixture proved a thriller, with a scores equal draw secured off the last ball after 608 runs and 16 wickets in the day.
Join us then.