After last year’s strong finish, the Esher 2nd XI started the season with high hopes, plenty of expectation and keen interest to see if the side could continue that form and gain promotion to the 1st Division.
A successful season has always hinged on the first 9 games and traditionally it that has been a time when Esher struggle. This year however turned out to be somewhat different. At the mid-point in the season, Esher had picked up 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw. And even though the two losses were against Esher’s two biggest title rivals, the side were in good spirits. There were some notable performances in the first 9 games. Half centuries from Dan Dickenson, Matt Sabben-Clare, Alex Mason, Ali Birkby, John Mason, Archie Breakspear and Al Shelley all were very valuable. It was in the ninth game however that Esher saw their first centurion of the season. Pete Blackhurst scored an incredible 139 off 80 deliveries. There were also two “five-fers” in the first 9 league games: John Mason and Henry Witten.
This good start meant that when the talented youngsters Esher have at their disposal became available, they would come into a side pushing for promotion rather than a side desperately needing points to survive. This seemed to spur the youngsters on, and in particular Harry Alderson (three fifties and & 7-31) and Austin Wilman (5-60 & 66) showed maturity beyond their years to help Esher push for the title. Esher’s second half of the season ended up much like the first half: 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 abandoned fixture. It was a steady year throughout, but it was Esher’s last 5 games that really sealed their triumph. With the hardest run-in on paper out of the title contenders, and with victories needed against both of the top two sides and tricky away fixtures against the 4th & 5th-placed teams. it looked ominous. However, with a mix of talent and heart, Esher were crowned champions before the final game of the season. The final 9 games saw several more notable performances, with Mark Hopkinson’s two hundreds being particular highlights.
Special thanks must go to all the players that took part. A massive thank you also to Umpire Paul Philpott and scorers Matthew Nolan and Jess Tallent whose work was invaluable throughout the season.