Stevens destroys Sunbury with career-best 7-29
By Antony Ireland
By Paul Bridge
A Richard Stevens career-best 7-29 saw a weakened Sunbury side skittled out before lunch on
Saturday for a paltry 75 runs in just under 26 overs.
Then, as if to compound further humiliation on the visitors, Priory openers Richard Oliver and
Sam Hall gave them a quick batting lesson by scoring the 76 runs required in 12.5 overs – a rate of
5.9 runs an over – without the loss of any wicket.
The win is the Priory’s seventh in a row and keeps them in top spot in the Surrey Championship
with 152 points, 17 points ahead of East Molesey who have won six of their seven games this
Stevens had opened the bowling from the Blue Anchor End in the absence of Will Hodson,
whose favourite end it is. The pitch, while slow, following the week’s rain, held no big dangers.
However Stevens was able to get movement off the seam.
His impact was immediate. With his sixth ball he had Matt Harpur, a new name to Sunbury’s
batting lineup this year, leg before for nought.
There then followed a partnership of 23 runs between Sam Burgess, a past thorn for Reigate in
previous games, and Sunbury’s surprise number three batsman – Amar Virdi, the Surrey spinner,
who is more typically seen coming in to bat at number nine or ten.
While Virdi did score a boundary with the first ball he faced, it was Burgess who was putting runs
on the scoreboard, principally off Reigate’s opening bowler Reece Topley.
Burgess has scored over 900 runs for Sunbury in the past two seasons, at an average in the low
30s. He scored two 50’s in the games against the Priory in 2017. This form has earned him call-ups to
both Berkshire and more recently Kent 2 nd XI for whom he scored a century against Essex 2 nd XI at the
end of April and 34 in Friday’s 2 nd XI Trophy semi-final against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
After taking a single off Stevens’s bowling, Virdi came up against the speed of Topley and it took
the Reigate paceman just one ball to induce a nick that was well held by Angus Dahl at third slip. The
experiment in moving Virdi up the order had resulted in 5 runs in 9 balls.
Three overs later, Burgess tried to take on a rampant Stevens by hitting him over the square leg
boundary. But all he could manage was to give a catch to Michael Munday close in from the
boundary, who took the catch comfortably. Burgess was gone for 19 from 26 balls.
From 37-3, Sunbury then lost three more wickets in the following three overs while adding only
five more runs. Rajan Soni was bowled by Topley for 7, Jay Parmar, another new name to the side,
was caught behind by Sam Hall off Stevens for 1 and Alex Hughes lasted three balls before becoming
a second LBW victim for Stevens.
Topley retired to the outfield with excellent figures of 2-16 from eight overs, with four maidens.
By now Sunbury’s overseas professional Matt McGillivray was joined by Darren London, who has
been an off and on first team player for 16 years. McGillivray, an all-rounder, who plays for Gauteng
in South Africa, broke his index finger in a friendly against Richmond in early May and this was his
first outing with the bat since then.
This pair put on 21 runs with McGillivray the more aggressive of the two, battering Reigate
spinner Luke Beaven for a six before Stevens bowled him to complete his first ‘fifer’ in this his 11 th
season playing for the 1st XI.
At 63-7 London was caught in the slips off Stevens for 5. Then Sunbury skipper Kevin Smith was
bowled by Beaven for 7 and under-16 cricketer Pratyush Ramesh became Stevens’s seventh scalp
when he was caught by Jake Lehmann in the covers for an eight-ball duck.
All out for 75, this Sunbury side is but a shadow of the Sunbury sides that won the
Championship in 2015 and 2016 and was second in 2017. Last year Sunbury finished 6 th in the
Premier Division and this loss to the Llamas keeps them in 7 th place season-to-date on 49 points,
staring at the relegation spots which at present are a mere five points lower.
Many well-known names from those two championship-winning Sunbury sides have moved
elsewhere. Martin Andersson plays now in the Middlesex County set-up. Adam London is Director of
Cricket at Richmond, Ishwarjot Singh Sohi is playing for the MCC Young Cricketers, Rhythm Bedi is
coach at the Indian Gymkhana side. John Maunders, former captain and perennial run-scorer, is
side-lined at present with a hamstring tear. And the list goes on.
None of this troubled Richie Oliver and Sam Hall when they went out to bat. In four overs before
lunch they scored 13-0 from four overs. After lunch the runs came quickly – initially all from Oliver
who was on 21 not out before Hall scored his first run off Virdi.
But Hall soon matched Oliver’s scoring rate when he hit the first three balls he faced from
spinner Vishal Manro for a four, a six and then another four.
When the game was won both batsmen had almost identical scores – Oliver 35 not out from 38
balls and Hall 37 not out from 39 balls.
For Stevens, a ‘seven-fer’ is just reward for more than 10 seasons of hard work in the Reigate 1 st
XI. In his earlier years he was in and out of the side, but since the start of the 2016 season he has
become a regular player with figures to match. He took 61 wickets between 2016 and 2018, only
three less than he had taken in his first seven years in the team. And so far this season he has nine
more wickets to add to the tally.
He has had several four wicket hauls to his name – 4/27 away against Wimbledon in 2015, 4-33
against Sunbury at home in 2016 and 4-31 away against Sutton in 2018.
But never a ‘fifer’, let alone a ‘seven-fer’ until after 846 overs bowled in the Llama cause. His 7-29
gives him career figures to date with the 1 st XI of 134 wickets at 26.05 apiece.