Surrey Championship Challenge Cup Group 5 – 1st August 2020
Leatherhead CC (20 points), 242-3 off allotted 40-overs, beat Sutton CC (4 points), 237 all out off 39.3-overs, by 5-runs.
Openers assault sets platform for visitor’s Challenge Cup Group 5 victory.
On an afternoon of warm sunny intervals, in complete contrast to last week’s inclement and chilly weather, Leatherhead won the toss and elected, unsurprisingly, to bat. The wicket looked a good ‘un, and so it proved with almost 500-runs on the day.
Simon Roberts and Joel Walker set about Sutton’s early bowling at around 6-runs an over until, in the 34th over, at 183-runs, Sam Woods had Walker caught at deep mid-wicket by Sam Blake for a superb 90-runs off 102-balls.
Roberts, on 84, was then joined at the wicket by former Sutton stalwart, Dave Mercer. 5-overs later Roberts fell LBW to Sagar Joshi, in his second spell, 2-runs short of what would have been a well-deserved, and well-constructed ton; but not before he and his batting partner had rattled-up another 47-runs, of which Mercer contributed 29 off just 18-balls, leaving Leatherhead at a healthy 230-2 off 39-overs.
Mercer was caught at deep mid-on by Luke Smith off Connor Griffin in the last overwithout adding to his score. Notwithstanding the openers individual scores, Mercer’s brisk contribution proved highly significant in the context of the game’s eventual result. Leatherhead added another 12-runs off the final 5-balls to end their innings on 242-3, with those last 5-overs notching a decisive 59-runs!
So, Sutton were faced with the challenge of scoring at a rate of 6-runs an over to win. A tall order at any level of cricket. Things were looking good for Sutton as openers Sam Seadon and Sagar Joshi took to their task with relish.
After dispatching opening bowler Charlie Hill for a straight 6 in the 4th over, Joshi stood on 24-runs off just 10-balls; and Sutton on 36-0 with Sam Seadon 12no. Joshi was then ‘yorked’ by Hill at the end of that over and proceedings started to slow down a bit. However, a decent run rate was maintained as Seadon and Josh Blake added 31-runs together in the next 5-overs before, off the first ball of the 10th over Seadon fell to a Mark Farrant catch in the gully as Hill claimed his second wicket of the day. At 67 for 2 wickets off 9.1-overs, and Blake 14 no, Sutton were well up with the run rate required.
The next 11-overs produced 54-runs, as Blake 31no, and Etinder Bopara 34no, consolidated Sutton’s position. Needing 122-runs off 19-overs to win, the required run rate had ticked-up a tad to around 6.50 an over; but with 8-wickets remaining the odds were beginning to favour the home XI. The introduction of Leatherhead’s all-rounder Dave Mercer soon saw that idea shattered.
Sutton, on 121-2 at the end of the 21st over, succumbed to 135-5 by the middle of the 26th, as Mercer quickly destroyed a section of middle-order batting. Bopara caught at deep mid-on for 34, Blake at short square-leg 39 and Ratnasapabathy, caught at mid-wicket 7. The required run-rate had now ticked-up to near 7.75 per over, a tough ask.
After surviving Mercer’s final over Sam Woods and Dan Edwards tried valiantly to place Sutton back in the game. They put on 56-runs in 8.2-overs before Woods, having a crack at another lofted cover drive, mis-timed and was caught at mid-off in the 35th over by Jonathan Tribe, for 38-runs in 31 balls off the bowling of returning Mark Tarrant. 192-6 and 51-runs needed off 5.3-overs.
A brave attempt was made by Edwards together with Sutton’s lower order to reach the required total but Tarrant, who seemed to have gained an extra yard of pace since his first spell earlier in the innings, was having none of it. He proceeded to dismiss Smith for 8, Edwards for 30-runs off 32 balls, and Griffin for 9, all three bowled. 227 for 9.
Needing 13-runs to win off the last over Sam Blake timed a lovely pull for 4, and Aneesh Jhalla scrambled his way to a couple. At 236-9, the third ball of the over was delivered to Blake by Charlie Hill and dispatched to square; but in attempting a second run, Jhalla was run out for 2-runs. Blake ending not out on 8.
Sutton’s 237 all out, just 6-runs short of victory, was a courageous bid on a challenging Leatherhead total. A closely fought match, which entertained until the end. It could have gone either way. Then again, the visitor’s opening stand of 183-runs and the dominance of Dave Mercer’s all-round performance really did support a well-deserved Leatherhead win.
Sutton Cricket Club 1st XI 2020
Back row L to R: Sam Seadon – Sagar Joshi – Dan Edwards (WK) – Sam Woods – Josh Blake – Rehan Ratna
Front row L to R: Connor Griffin – Etinder Bopara – Luke Smith (Capt.) – Sam Blake – Aneesh Jhalla