Esher scrambled by Egham!

The latest target on Esher’s summer crusade was newly promoted Egham cricket club, still looking for their 1st win of the season, with Esher looking to chalk up 3 wins in a row.

This week saw the start of the much maligned “time” format, and while this author is not known as a glass half empty kind of person, this format is quite simply the death of amateur cricket and needs to be jettisoned to the rock that it crawled out of in the 60’s. No one is quite sure what the rules are trying to achieve. Batting for 55 overs instead of 50 does not prepare anyone for longer / tougher forms of the game, and having to bowl a side out who is intent on blocking out for a draw is neither character building or enjoyable for anyone involved. It promotes a brand of cricket that no one wants to watch or play, so why would it encourage amateurs to give up a whole day, and pay £10 from the privilege?

But enough of the constructive criticism. Esher stand in Skipper Hopkinson managed to secure his first tick of the day by winning the toss, and duly elected to bowl first. Rehman and Tibble opened up on what looked a soft / slow wicket, combined with a particularly muggy feel to the atmospheric conditions, offering the chance of some swing as well.

This proved to be the case as Rehman and Tibble made scoring very difficult on a wicket offering just enough of the bowlers to keep them very interested. A lush outfield also combined to make scoring slightly harder as well, which caught out more than one fielder who was wishing the ball to the boundary, to avoid having to chase it!

Tibble started the day off for Esher, having the appropriately named David Risk caught at mid on attempting a……risky lofted drive, sorry. Then it was the Ata-Ur Rehman show, using all his experience, with the keeper stood up, to bamboozle batsman after batsman. Shane White went to a worldie of a catch at 2nd slip by Khan, Rehman then found the front pad of Tindall bang in front of the stumps. When Rehman knocked down the castle of Brown, Egham had slipped to 47-4 and were in need of some partnerships that had appeared to elude them in previous weeks.

Main & Douglas led the resistance, adding 29 before Main fell to an ill-conceived swipe to Rehman, having scored a valuable 23. Douglas then aimed another big shot at Khan and was bowled for 23, and while 45 had been added for the last 2 wickets, Egham were still in danger of falling short of anything resembling a competitive total.

Then up stepped Adam Dix and Dave Morris.

Showing all the composure and shot selection that seemed to have deserted the top 6, all be it with a softer ball offering less joy for the seam bowlers, Dix and Morris consolidated for 10 or so overs, picking up runs where they could, but not taking any undue risk. With Esher shuffling their pack to try to find the elusive partnership breaking wicket, Egham found boundary options more readily available and cashed in, and by the time Rehman returned to bowl Dix for a very good 35, the partnership had amassed 76 valuable runs, and given Egham a small platform to attack in the closing overs at 168-7.

Dennis and Cornelius didn’t stay long, out to Steven and the impressive Rehman respectively, but Morris hit some lusty blows towards the end to finish on a very gritty and impressive 59 not out. Rehman returned figures of 6-49 from 2 spells totalling 22 overs, a great effort by him, but at the half way point Esher were reflecting on what could have been, although still confident of mounting a decent chase of what was still a score under 200.

Esher did not mount a decent chase.

Finding conditions with the new ball very similar to when they bowled, Esher struggled to come to terms with the slowness of the pitch, outfield and accurate steady bowling, and when Blackhurst and Martin were bowled trying to force the issue, Esher found themselves in a hole at 11-2. Alderson showed composure belying his tender years, but he was lured into a prod outside the off stump and caught in the slips for 15, leaving Esher at 38-3.

Jamie McCormack joined Khan at the crease and started to re-build the Esher innings. With boundaries hard to come by , good shot selection and running between the wickets was the order of the day. McCormack managed to find as much fluency as anyone else in the game, hitting 3 boundaries and a 6 over long on, but when he fell to a stunning catch from Dix for 26 just before drinks, Esher were still in a bit of a pickle at 78-4.

Rehman came and went without troubling the scorers, and so when Hopkinson joined Khan at the wicket, with still 120 needed in only 15 or so overs, Esher were starting to look at the winning draw target of 157, rather than the win. But even that proved to be too much for Esher who failed to come to terms with the conditions from pretty much ball one, and in the end were left clinging onto a losing draw at 130-9. Khan made a very solid 63 not out for Esher, but with the other 9 batsmen contributing just 60 runs between them, this was a very insipid display from an Esher batting line up that has looked promising in recent weeks. Egham captain Stefan Kaltner was the pick of the Egham bowling, returning figures of 4-27 from 11 overs, with mention also to Ryan Dennis who exploited the conditions expertly to return 2-39 from 16.

In truth, Egham deserved the win, playing all the cricket from the 30th over of their innings, and only the curiousness of the rules denying them. The final point to make on the format (i promise the report will be more light hearted next week…) is that a grand total of 2 game points were split between the 2 sides. 2 points for a winning draw, and 0 points for a losing draw. So 100 overs of cricket, 1 whole day of a 2 day weekend, for 2 points. Seems legit…

Egham host Worcester Park next week, buoyed by a positive performance, while Esher need to get back on the horse quickly, with the visit of high flying Camberley to New Road.

Author : Mark Hopkinson