Rory in the runs but 2s settle for Dons draw
By Antony Ireland
By guest editor David Wills/Sue Barker (Wimbledon)
With the Wimbledon tennis fortnight well underway, Trevor Bailey Sports Ground became the Dons
temporary home for the visit of Reigate as 1st played 3rd in the league. This is one of the fiercest and most
good-natured rivalries in the league and the two old foes served up a thrilling game worthy of their status as
title challengers. Neither captain new quite what to make of the pitch and home skipper Wills stuck to the
mantra of 'if in doubt, bat'; on winning his first toss in 7 matches. The early signs were good for Wimbledon
as the openers put on 44 for the first wicket in less than 10 overs. As is customary, Wills was the primary
aggressor early on, taking two boundaries from Donovan's first over and hitting him straight back over his
head for six in his second. The short ball didn't fare any better as an upper-cut for six over third-man
continued the assault. Donovan was to get his revenge, however, as a fuller ball induced an inside edge
back onto the stumps to see Wills depart for 31. De Passos picked up where Wills had left off, soon into
his stride with a series of fine boundaries as the Reigate bowlers struggled to find enough consistency. 65
runs had been added for the 2nd wicket before De Passos skewed a catch off L Haughton to fall for 40 with
the score on 109.
The fast scoring rates of his partners had allowed Kaul to settle calmly into his innings and the form player
in the league was now well-set on 35. Gunn joined him to build another good partnership and as Kaul went
to his half-century Wimbledon had built an excellent platform to attack on a flat deck. Having brought up
his milestone, Kaul changed gears and really took the attack to the Reigate bowlers with a series of eye-
catching shots. Crisp punches down the ground were mixed with deft cuts and reverse sweeps as he
raced towards a century. There were no signs of nerves approaching his ton and back-to-back boundaries
brought up an excellent maiden hundred for the club, the second fifty coming in just 30 balls! By the 40
over mark Wimbledon had reached 220/2 and looked set for a total in excess of 300.
Reigate are regular title contenders for a reason, however, and it is to their great credit that they fought
back strongly in the final period of the innings. After Gunn was caught in the ring to break a 112 run
partnership they continued to chip away and only 61 further runs were added in 12 overs for the loss of 7
wickets, Kaul finally departing for a magnificent 130 from 134 balls. The declaration came on 281/9 after
52 overs, leaving Reigate a minimum of 48 overs in reply.
The visitors innings couldn't have got off to a worse start with Leonard and Sewell picking up an early
wicket a piece to leave Reigate teetering at 6/2. The Reigate batting line up is a strong one, however, and
the Haughton brothers started rebuilding the innings, cautiously at first and then expanding with a series of
fine boundaries to bring up an excellent century partnership to bring their side back into the game.
Inevitably given the early wickets, they had fallen behind the rate and were going at just over 4s. With the
Wimbledon spinners proving surprisingly ineffective for once, the home side turned to C Anand and he
immediately got the breakthrough, pinning L Haughton LBW for 48 with one that kept low.
If Wimbledon thought this was their opportunity they were to be disappointed as Tye came out all guns
blazing, evidence that Reigate were still very much thinking about victory. 140 runs were needed from the
final 14 overs, but Reigate were well on track. Tye was particularly dismissive of the spinners, launching
some big sixes and all of a sudden Reigate had become favourites as a second successive century
partnership came up and the rate was now down below 9 an over. Wimbledon returned to Sewell in search
of a much needed breakthrough and he managed to find it courtesy of a stunning diving catch in the
outfield from Kaul - R Haughton unable to control a bouncer with the top edge seemingly set to fall into
space, only for Kaul to dive full length and cling onto the ball inches from the ground. This brought a fine
innings to an end with R Haughton going for 95 from 109 balls. It became two in two balls as Briggs cut his
first ball straight to backward point and it was now very much game-on again.
While Tye was at the crease anything was still possible for Reigate and he had reached 64 from just 47
balls before another moment of magic in the field saw the back of him. Clare ran round the boundary and
made an excellent stop to prevent a boundary, getting the ball quickly back to the bowler's end as Tye
attempted a second run and Edwards completed a fine piece of fielding to see him run out just short of the
crease. A couple of overs later Edwards had Gale caught behind and when Hodgson was run out in the
same over Reigate suddenly found thmselves 8 wickets down still 38 short of victory with more than 4
overs left. The winning draw target was 260, but Reigate sensibly chose to ignore the extra 2 points
available for this in favour of preventing Wimbledon from securing the final two wickets. Loft and Donovan
managed to see out the remaining overs to claim the draw.
So a thrilling game of cricket came to an end with Reigate 30 runs short and Wimbledon 2 wickets short of
victory. As has so often been the case between these two sides, a fine game of cricket played in an
excellent spirit and both teams can leave pleased with their efforts. They meet again in the final game of
the season for what could be a title decider. There is a lot of cricket to play before then, however, and at
the half way point of the season Wimbledon sit top of the league, unbeaten and 24 points clear of Spencer
with Reigate a further 5 points back.