An agonising last ball single – when two would have won the game – meant Reigate Priory drew with Ashtead Saturday in a thrilling contest at Reigate’s Park Lane ground in a Surrey Championship match that saw 608 runs posted on the scoreboard.
Both sides ended on a score of 304 runs but Reigate’s higher run rate meant they came away with 11 points from the game to Ashtead’s 10 points. This result still leaves Reigate in top spot in the Premier Division but with Weybridge winning away at Cranleigh the lead at the top, once 25 points, then 23 points, now has been cut to just 10 points.
Ashtead won the toss, went in to bat and immediately benefitted from dropped catches that were to plague the Priory side throughout the Ashtead innings. Ashtead opener, skipper and overseas player David White was dropped in the gully when 7 at a score of only 22-0 from the last ball of the seventh over, bowled by Will Hodson.
At first this did not seem to matter that much as in the next over, bowled by Richard Stevens, there was another dropped catch before Ben Geddes, a Surrey Under-17 cricketer, was caught by Luke Beaven at deep point for 21 at a score of 28-1.
New batsman Conor Young and White then put on 43 runs together before Young was caught by Oliver at slip off Hodson for 18 at 71-2. This brought to the wicket Guy Harper, Ashtead’s main batsman who has scored over 500 runs this season with an average of 50. But he lasted just three balls before Hodson had him dispatched back to the pavilion, caught behind by Sam Hall for 0.
The number five Ashtead batsman Damian Shirazi , a first XI cricket coach at Epsom College, lasted eight balls before becoming Hodson’s third wicket, leg before for 4, at 79-4 at the end of the 21st over.
In the remaining half an hour before lunch White and new batsman Sam Homes put on 40 runs together with White enjoying a second life off the bowling of Beaven. But at 119-4 Reigate would have been happy with the morning’s work, Hodson having bowled from the Blue Anchor End throughout the session for 16 overs and taking 3-41.
After lunch, skipper Chris Murtagh turned to his spinners as he has done throughout these 120 over games in June and July - and with much justification. In the seven games before the Wimbledon win last week, when Hodson and Stevens ran through the Wimbledon batting order, Beaven and Michael Munday between them had taken 48 wickets to the 18 nabbed by the pacemen -Hodson, Stevens and Andrew Delmont. Both spinners are numbers one and number two wicket-takers in the league season to date, with Hodson being the third top wicket-taker in the league, a few wickets behind.
But for the first time this season this spinning strategy did not work. Between them Beaven, Munday and Angus Dahl, enjoying his first league bowling this season, bowled a total of 39 overs between them for just the two wickets which cost 216 runs.
White and Homes who had put on 40 runs together by lunch put on a further 87 runs after lunch, tucking into the spinners at the rate of a run a ball. White, a South African who has played 85 first class games for Eastern Province at an average of 32.08, who had taken 79 balls for his first 50, moved past the 100 mark in a further 43 balls. His hundred included three 6’s and ten 4’s.
Sam Homes was caught by Delmont off Munday for 42 at 206-5 to end this major partnership of Ashtead’s innings.
Hayden Storey, the wicketkeeper and White then put on a further 36, again at a run a ball, before Hayden was caught by Oliver off Beaven for 14 at 242-6.
The last partnership was between White and Tom Homes, Sam Homes’s younger brother, which lasted almost 13 overs and put on 62 runs to take Ashtead’s total past the 300 mark.
It took the return of Hodson to finally end White’s long innings of 152 from 182 balls, with five 6’s and 14 4’s as well as at least four lives.
After hitting Hodson for another boundary to go past the 150 mark in 180 balls, two balls later while striving for another 6, all White could do was hit the ball to long off where Murtagh gratefully took the catch. Following this dismissal, Ashtead declared at 304-7 after 64 overs.
Hodson ended with the best bowling figures for Reigate in this game of 4-58 in 18 overs.
Ashtead had scored their runs at an average rate of 4.75, but Reigate, now allotted 56 overs to bat, needed to score at a rate of 5.45 to win.
Richie Oliver and Andy Delmont started quickly enough, putting on 70 runs together in 11 overs before Oliver was caught off Harshil Patel for 36.
Delmont and Brad Scriven then set about laying the foundation of Reigate’s challenge and put on a partnership of 93 runs together in just over 23 overs. Delmont was the first to pass the 50 mark (in 77 balls), followed by Scriven (in 72 balls).
But the partnership ended in the 34th over when Scriven was caught off Tom Deighton’s bowling for 56. Delmont followed soon afterwards bowled by Shirazi for 72 at 179-3 in the 37th over.
As Hall joined Murtagh there were only 19 overs left to play and with 126 runs still needed, the required run rate had climbed to 6.5 runs an over.
In eight overs, this pair of Murtagh and Hall scampered for 47 runs before Murtagh was caught behind by Storey off Patel for 28, of which 15 were singles, at 226-4.
Hall and Angus Dahl got ahead of the run rate by adding 20 runs in just two overs. But trying for a quick two runs, Hall was run out by inches for 28 runs at 246-5 in the 47th over – 59 still needed in just over 9 overs at 6.3 an over.
Luke Haughton, another quick runner between the wickets, scored 19 (nine of them singles) before he was caught off left-arm spinner Tom Homes at 284-6 in the 53rd over. Haughton and Dahl (now 32 not out) had put on 38 runs in 34 balls, keeping up with the run rate.
As Richard Stevens came in Priory supporters clung on to the thought this batsman can hit big sixes as 21 runs still were needed in just 22 balls – the run rate (now at 5.7) seemingly relentless.
Stevens did hit a four – but no 6’s – as he was bowled by Tom Homes for 7 at 295-7, two overs later. But new batsman Luke Beaven hit a boundary 4 and a two to leave Reigate on 301 at the end of the 55th over, with Dahl still there on 36 not out.
The last over was bowled by Sam Homes, a right-arm off-spinner, whose figures, so far, were seven overs for 53 runs and no wickets. Just 4 runs were needed for victory. The advantage appeared to be with Reigate.
First ball – a disaster for Reigate. Dahl who had scored many of his runs through the reverse sweep now perished to the shot, caught Shirazi off Sam Homes for his 36 from 29 balls.
New batsman Will Hodson blocked his first ball and was caught off the second. Reigate still were 301 but now for 9 wickets - still needing that four to win with three balls to go. The advantage had switched to Ashtead.
New batsman Munday and Beaven mustered a leg bye and a single from balls four and five, leaving Munday needing to score two runs from the last ball to win. All results were possible – a win for Reigate, a win for Ashtead, a tie or a draw.
As it was, Munday turned the ball to leg but could manage only the single. Thus the game ended in a draw, both sides on 304, with honours even.
Next Saturday, last year’s league champions Normandy visit Park Lane for a 50-over game starting at noon. Fortunes have changed dramatically for the visiting side as this year they are fighting to escape the relegation zone. Updated 18:43 - 31 Aug 2018 by Antony Ireland