In a thrilling finish to a low-scoring game, East Molesey could find no answer to a magical six-wicket, five over spell of bowling from Reigate’s Michael Munday as the home side slumped from 56-2 to 76 all out thereby leaving the game tied with both sides scoring 76 runs apiece.
The tie keeps the Llamas in top spot in the league tables but now sharing that top spot with rivals Weybridge. With two games to go in the season, the fixture list, written possibly by a Hollywood script-writer, now has Weybridge visiting Reigate’s home ground at Park Lane this coming Saturday for a game that is being billed as the championship decider.
The East Molesey game looked to have gone pear-shaped for the Llamas after just 10 overs as East Molesey’s opening attack of Andrew Westphal and Dominic Reed found movement and bounce from the wicket and dumped the cream of Reigate’s batting back to the pavilion for only 26 runs with five wickets gone.
For the record, that’s Andrew Delmont caught off Reed for one, Richie Oliver caught behind off Westphal for 9, Chris Murtagh leg before to Westphal for 0, Brad Scriven bowled by Westphal for 11, and Luke Haughton caught off Reed for nought.
When Murtagh trudged disconsolately off the field, adjudged leg before to his fourth delivery, at 14-3, it looked as if he’d thrown away the Championship title by deciding to bat first after he had won the toss.
From 26-5 Sam Hall and Ben Shoare put on 11 runs together before Hall was leg before to Westphal for 8 at 37-6. Shoare followed in the next over, caught behind off Reed for 7 at 44-7.
Richard Stevens lasted 9 balls before he was bowled by Westphal for 4 at 52-8. And it was left to number nine batsman Luke Beaven and number 10 Will Hodson to put together the largest partnership of the innings for 15 runs in 8 overs before Hodson was caught off left-arm spinner Matt Tigg for 1.
Beaven, who top scored with 15, was the last to go at 76 when he was given out leg before to East Molesey’s other spinner Jonathan Fawcett.
The innings had lasted 27 overs and three balls and taken one hour and 42 minutes to complete. Westphal ended with 5-23 and Reed 3-30.
Reigate took to the field in surprisingly good spirits with the idea the pitch is the same and Reigate’s bowlers are better than East Molesey’s, a concept that was rapidly called into question when East Molesey skipper Reed, opening the batting as well as the bowling, hit a ‘6’ and a ‘4’ off Stevens’s first over.
Murtagh put Beaven on for the second over, which looked to be an imaginative move until Reed then hit balls four and six for ‘6’ runs apiece. Given 5 wides, East Molesey, after two overs, were 29-0 and at the current rate of scoring liable to finish the game within six overs.
Then Stevens flattened Reed’s stumps at 30-1 and next over the other opener Niall Solomon, formerly a Wimbledon player, was leg before to Beaven at 34-2.
However Sam Burge, the former skipper of the side and always a batting threat was joined by Simon Barrett who in his last two innings against Weybridge and Wimbledon had scored a 69 and a 110.
But Barrett suddenly found run scoring difficult in this game and while Burge was hitting the occasional boundary, the score was only creeping along from 34-2 in four overs at just over two runs per over to 56-2 after 13 overs.
Murtagh, meanwhile was switching his bowlers around, changing Stevens for Hodson and then switching Beaven from the Racecourse End to the River End, trying to find the winning combination.
And then the magic touch. In over 14 Murtagh brought on Munday to bowl from the Racecourse End and with his sixth ball Munday had Barrett leg before for 2, scored in 29 balls, with the score at 56-3.
Next Munday over, it was the fifth ball when the wicket fell, another leg before. Cole Campbell was the victim, out for 1 at 60-4. As the umpire at Munday’s end later explained, all four of Munday’s leg before decisions in this game came from his googly with the batsman expecting a leg break and missing the ball, leaving the pads smack-dab in front of the wicket.
In the next over, changed now to the River End, Beaven took the wicket that Reigate wanted, that of Burge. And it took a fine diving catch at long-off by the skipper, Murtagh, to get rid of East Molesey’s joint top scorer for 22 from 38 balls at 60-5.
But it was the next over, Munday’s third and the 18th over of the innings, when the impossible began to appear possible to Reigate supporters.
Second ball of the over, Westphal hit out but was caught by Haughton for a duck at 64-6. Fifth ball of the over, new batsman Nick Stevens, facing his first ball, was leg before to Munday for nought and next ball Tigg was out bowled, also first ball.
There had been three wickets in the over for one run, Munday at this point sporting figures of five wickets for two runs. East Molesey now were 65-8, 12 runs away from the win with just two wickets left.
Beaven bowled an over for two runs and Munday then bowled his fourth over which resulted in four runs and no wickets leaving the score at 71-8, with just six runs needed for victory.
Beaven then got the breakthrough, after conceding a single, bowling number 10 batsman Jack Miller for 4 at 72-9
Number seven batsman Jake Kings who had scored 8 not out then hit Munday, second ball of his fifth over, for a boundary. The scores were tied.
But Munday still had one more googly up his sleeve to bamboozle the home side and Kings fell leg before to it on the next ball. He had scored 12.
East Molesey were all out for 76 from 21.3 overs, and the game had ended as a tie with the 20 points shared 10 points each side.
Munday finished with final figures of 4.3 overs, 1 maiden, 6 wickets for 10 runs, his best bowling of the season.
Beaven, who had conceded 18 runs in his first over from Reed’s onslaught, ended with figures of 3-35 from nine overs.
The must-win game for Reigate against Weybridge at home this Saturday starts at noon. Updated 10:28 - 20 Oct 2018 by Antony Ireland