The next challenge to greet Esher, in their 18 week struggle against the mighty foe of Surrey Championship Division 2, was the visit of high flying Camberley CC. New Road again looking resplendent in the early June sunshine, the day was all set for a wonderful exhibition of cricket that only the glummest of faces would not enjoy.

The threat of some afternoon rain may have encouraged an additional jug of pimms at HQ on Friday, this author has it on good authority that at least 3 members of the 1st XI were spotted in the Harris gardens at 6pm. But there is nothing like a trip to HQ to whet the appetite for a cricket challenge the following day.

Esher were looking to bounce back from their rather inept performance in Egham the previous round, while Camberley were in danger of disappearing over the horizon at the top of the league, at this early stage of the season. First job on the agenda was for the much changed Esher CC to get on first name terms with their team mates. No mean feat given the 6 enforced changes from the previous week.

Camberley Skipper Shoveller seemed stoked to win the toss and elected to chase, on what looked like another decent deck and outfield. Taking the field in their gold and green trimmed whites, which seemed fitting, Camberley got straight into their work, with James Day especially miserly, offering very little for Hopkinson or Edwards to score off.

Hopkinson, clearly batting with kangaroos loose in the top paddock, eventually ran out of luck and missed a surprise straight ball from Philander, bringing together Esher’s answer to Abbot & Costello, Captain Edwards and live wire Alex Martin.

Setting about the change bowling like a hungry dingo at a BBQ, Edwards and Martin were able to increase the scoring rate, the introduction of Marty Kain though dragged the game back to parity. With a combination of great control of length and pace, and good field positions, Kain was able to limit the Esher scoring rate from his end. After an impressive partnership of 103, Edwards was adjudged LBW to Kain for a well constructed 60, bringing Shoaib Khan to the wicket. Martin carried on where he had left off, with his manoeuvring of the ball all round the wicket, furious running between the wickets and occasional boundary striking, and it came as a bit of a surprise when he fell caught and bowled off Kain for an impressive 74.

Khan carried on serenely on his way to a run a ball 52, but Kain bowled with great control towards the end of the innings, with Esher trying to push on for quick runs, and a final score of 214 while a far better effort than the previous week, was probably a little under par given the conditions.

Kain was the pick for Camberley, bowling superbly to return figures of 3-53 from 18 overs, Day also bowling an impressive new ball spell of 0-24 from 8.

Both sides donned thongs and headed in for some well earned tucker, where it was pointed out to Captain Edwards that his 11th man was stuck somewhere near Woop Woop and would not be making it to the game. A bit of a Barry Crocker for Esher, with a task that looked tricky with 11, with 10 their chances may have gone walkabout.

Shoveller opened up like a man determined to make it back home before the football kicked off, dismissing anything slightly wayward, and also quite a lot that wasn’t wayward in any way, and by the time Khan trapped him in front for 39, Camberley had raced to 66-1. Fellow opening partner Hutcheson did well not to get caught up in the pyrotechnics at the other end, and continued to steadily accumulate. Tim Burns came and went driving forcefully at his first ball from Khan, and at 72-2 Esher had the faintest of faint light at the end of the tunnel.

James Day quickly snuffed out that light. Surviving a skittish first 3 balls which yielded a drop catch, a caught behind appeal and an appearance from his holiness, Day then preceded to strong arm the Esher attack to parts of the ground that had not seen human interaction for a very long time. Centuries old species of wild flower snuffed out in an instant, as fielder after fielder kicked and hacked at the long grass in desperate search of the cricket ball.

As Edwards shuffled his depleted attack, Day continued his almost illegal assault, and with Hutcheson joining in at times as well, Esher were given the run around for 30 long overs before Day finally put them out of their misery, striking his 3rd six to win the game and bring up a magnificent hundred in just 53 balls. Clearly no lover of spending money on shoes, Day struck 82 of his 101 in boundaries, with Todd Hutcheson 77 not out at the other end having had the best seat in the house for the brutal hitting from Day.

A chastening experience for Esher, with a decent batting display cruelly exposed by a rampant Camberley batting line up. But, a week is a long time in politics, and so Esher have to dust themselves off and go again, with a short trip to Epsom.

Author : Mark Hopkinson