Surrey Indoor League: one thriller, one clinical performance, one great evening!
Game 1: Cheam v Ham & Petersham
Once again, Ham & Petersham flew out of the traps, and were on track for a collossal total. However, Cheam always posed a threat with the ball, and chipped away at the batting side. This allowed them to bowl Petersham out for 123 (Hamid the top scorer, retiring in just 11 balls). 5 balls were un-used in the innings. Would that prove decisive?!
Varma and Sayed got Cheam off to a flyer. Varma was the first to retire, with a perfectly straight four, and his replacement Wishart kept up the pace. Throughout the chase, the required rate hovered between 9-11 runs per over. Sayed was the dependable batsman throughout, getting through to the 11th over for his side.
Ham & Petersham will look back on their performance in the field, and wonder how they let this game slip from their grasp. Their opposition were let off the hook so often, thanks mainly to overthrows. Far too often, shies and throws were shot in at way more pace than was necessary....or often when no throw was necessary at all. Every time the bowlers gained a foothold, the pressure valve was released.
With 50 to win off 5 overs, Mahbub was brought into the attack. He quickly found a testing line, with a little movement. Any lack of judgement or lazy footwork was punished. The 8th and 10th over thrust the game back towards Ham & Petersham. However, more costly extras in the 9th and 11th over swung the game back to 50-50.
The final over began with 11 needed for Cheam, and first ball, Sayed dissected the two men on the back wall, for a boundary! A 3 followed, and the chasers were firm favourites. However the third ball was a beauty, taking off and passing the outside edge.
4 from 3 required....
The fourth ball - again on a length - was dabbed into the off-side, and the batting pair set off for the levelling runs.....the fielder picked up cleanly, and threw over-arm from close range....a direct hit would keep the match alive. It missed by inches, and flew straight onto the back wall....gifting the winning run to Cheam!
This game was indoor cricket at its volatile, momemtum-shifting best! Cheam are now top of the league - doing just enough in both their matches to cross the line! But the other 4 clubs are all developing, and will be coming hard at them over the season. There is so much talent in the Ham & Petersham squad. If they find their top game, they will be close to unstoppable!
Result: Cheam CC (124-4) beat Ham & Petersham CC (123 all out)
Game 2: Egham v Oxted & Limpsfield
Egham took on Indoor League veterans Oxted & Limpsfield in the earlier match. Oxted were put in to bat, and for a while it seemed that the 9 month break had never happened!
Oxted's batting side is very well balanced, with a mixture of smashers and "nurdlers". Stuart Fletcher is their enforcer, and managed to force the ball towards the back well regularly (without slogging once). He has an ability to get over the top of even good length deliveries, punching them down the ground when others may struggle to hit in front of square. His opening partner, Michael Adamson, has a different approach.Very quick on the crease, he picks out the corners with surgical precision. The combination is a nightmare for any fielding unit.
After the openers departed (one retired, one bowled), the Miller/Miller middle order kept things simple....hit the wall and run. Making 3 runs 4 or 5 times an over, with little risk, the run rate continued to be healthy. However in the final third. Egham did fight back well. Connor Hawes's left-armers were disciplined enough to bowl to a 3-1 off-side field, restricting the late scoring options slightly (it's a great tactic if you can pull it off).
A few late wickets prevented Oxted from accelerating out of sight. Nevertheless, 145 would be a record score to be chased down at Downsend.
Unfortunately, Egham found themselves a wicket down in the first over - Wright falling victim of "outdoor instinct". His cover drive would be 4 every day of the week....in Summer. However, tragically, these tend to rebound perfectly to the stumps at the bowlers end. Run out. 4-1.
Oxted took advantage of this early gift, and turned the screw. Most of their bowling attack displays brains over brawn. Clever angles, well-timed variety, gradually ratcheting up the pressure on the opposition. They are a good template for teams starting out in indoor cricket.
Egham's batsmen looked untroubled, but couldn't quite rotate the strike as often as required. Will Harrison found his touch early on, and ended up with a well-crafted 35. Hawes (18) also completed a solid all-round performance. But there was just too much work to be done, by the time they got going.
In the end, Egham pushed their score up close to 100, but a comfortable win for Oxted was assured.
Result: Oxted & Limpsfield CC (144-4) beat Egham CC (98 all out) by 46 runs
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