Friend and Harris spin Llamas to victory
By Antony Ireland
Veteran and rookie take four each then McGuinness hits 50
A mix of youth and experience helped the Llamas stroll to a relatively comfortable win over Walton on Thames and end the season on the right note. Walton avoided relegation the week before and approached the game with about as much intensity as a family picnic in Priory Park. However, early signs were that this would be a good contest.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the vistitors got off to a solid start despite a pair of tight, probing opening spells from James Brickley (1-19 from 7) and the fast-rising youngster Jacob McLoughlin (0-24 from 7), who took the new ball with Elliot Lodge out injured.
Pete Friend was brought into the attack in the 12th over and did what he does best - giving very little away and picking up regular wickets (pretty decent MO for a bowler). Friend took two quick wickets to reduce Walton to 49-3 before a 51-run stand brought the visitors into a strong position at drinks.
The over before drinks, young Ollie Harris endured a chastening first over on 3s debut, dispatched for 19 after dishing up an, um, 'mixed bag', of deliveries. However, leg spin is all about rhythm and he got better and better after the break. In fact, Harris showed superb ticker to completely turn around his fortunes and rip through the Walton tail.
Friend (4-25 from 10) took two more and Harris four (4-30 from 6.3), while fellow teen Tyler Shoare (1-5 from 1) took a wicket with his first ball in the 3s as Walton slumped from 100-3 to 140 all out.
With no tea in sight, the Llamas had to ride out a 15 over session. Flashy cavalier Fraser McGuinness (50) took Walton to the sword, while Paul Fisher (33) proved the perfect foil, taking the home side to 70-0 at tea. Walton tightened up after the break, and Fisher and Matt Crighton (7) were removed before McGuinnes and Ant Ireland (21*) brought victory closer.
McGuinness and McLoughlin (2) both fell to the 40mph moon-balls of Surrey over 60s stalwart Ed Thom (how many of his hundreds of wickets must be mistimed shots spooned up to fielders in the ring?) , but Ireland and Chris Morgan (7*) knocked the runs off with little trouble, the Llamas winning with six wickets in the hutch and 16 overs to spare.
It's been an up and down year, but having won 6 of the last 8 games and finished 4th, and having welcomed some promising young and new players into the fold, there is plenty to be optimistic about for the 2019 season.