Last year’s game seems, at least in part, to have repeated itself in 2019. Ashtead vs Sunbury. At Woodfield Lane. A game finishing late in the evening. And a draw the end result. Except, this time, it was Ashtead who claimed the better result with a winning draw in Round 11 of the 2019 Surrey Championship.
Rain had been ever-present throughout the previous day, and so it proved again on Saturday morning, as the start was delayed by 40 minutes. When the two sides did get out to the middle, it was Ashtead who would be batting first, courtesy of a Sunbury decision.
The early going would not be easy, and when Michael Sanderson holed out to point in the second over, the challenge got much harder. Hayden Storey and David White worked together well to steadily accumulate, along with several fiery shots. 25-1 after 9 overs – when the rain fell again. Another half hour would be lost before lunch was called.
At 1:20, the innings resumed with a maximum of 47 overs left to bat. Losing Storey and White early on was definitely not in the Stags’ preferred script, but it gave two young guns the chance to shine. Ben Geddes and Harri Aravinthan rebuilt and played solidly, accumulating to start with and then going on the attack. Star spinner Amar Virdi was out of the attack (ending on 0-53 from 11), and it was not until the 44th over that a wicket would fall.
It would be Geddes gone first, stumped as he charged forward on 56. The platform had been set. It was finished by Aravinthan, Young and the Homes brothers. Cameos were gladly accepted, and with a strong 75 from Harri, the hosts finished on 256-9 from their 56.
44 overs would be the reply, and when Ben Sidwell claimed the dangerous scalp of John Maunders for 8, Ashtead sensed a great opportunity. Wickets continued to flow as Prince Singh, the other opening weapon, struck early as well. 29-2 after 8 overs.
It all calmed down a touch, but the introduction of Aravinthan (what a game he had) brought the wickets back. 2 in his first two overs reduced the visitors to 60-4. Game on. Unfortunately, by this time, captain White had left the field injured. Special mention to Harri’s brother, Ragu, who fielded by 35 overs in his stead.
As so often happens, drinks brought some more breakthroughs. Tom Homes was in the wickets again, capturing the crucial scalp of opener Rajan Soni for 42. Harri saw his opportunity and found his third wicket. Sunbury now on 89-7 and seemingly staring down another defeat.
Except they didn’t. Matt Harpur, and that man again, Amar Virdi, played with reckless abandon and quiet determination in equal measure. Chances aplenty, but the fortune had deserted the hosts, and nothing quite went their way. The pair batted out the overs for an unbeaten stand of 68, Virdi ending up joint high scorer for the innings on 42.
That result gave Ashtead 11 points and Sunbury 6, with Ashtead remaining in 6th place in the Championship table. Next week sees Ashtead travel to Sutton for the penultimate declaration encounter. Last year’s game, at Ashtead, saw the Stags came out on top with a 4-wicket win, and the 50 over match this year also saw the Stags take maximum points.
Let’s see if the Stags can do the double this year. Join us then.