Surrey Championship Season Review

2nd XI Promoted as Champions and the 1st XI finishing in their highest ever league position were just two of many highlights from our 2010 Surrey Championship campaign. The following report, and the picture at the foot of this article, have been submitted to the League for inclusion in the 2011 Surrey Championship Handbook:

1st XI

After securing Championship status in our first season, Siddhartha Lahiri took over the reigns from Andy Page after six fantastic years at the helm and was tasked with progressing the club even further up the Surrey ladder.

Things started well with three wins in the first four ‘overs’ matches – a reversal of the first four results of 2009. The only defeat came in the last over of a match that could have gone either way. The two highlights of this quartet of fixtures was a big run chase against Farncombe, set up by overseas player Hiken Shah who hit a classy 110, adding 159 together for the first wicket with Lahiri; and an amazing win we’ve given up trying to analyse at Croydon MO where Tim Handel hit 107 of the 157 runs we scored on a minefield, and all the bowlers chipped in to force a collapse from 70 for 1 to secure a nine run victory.

These wins put us in the leading pack, and after wins in the first two ‘timed’ games against Maori Oxshott and Thames Ditton, (where Ian Hopton took 6-26 and 7-49), we found ourselves top of the tree, a position maintained with a hard-earned draw at Chipstead.

Thereafter we didn’t prove to be as good front-runners as we had hoped. A run of just two wins in five games against lowly Dorking, (Lahiri 5-37 then Shah 121 not out), and Croydon MO, (Handel 5-32), left us with work to do, particularly as one of the defeats was on the last ball at Farncombe, a result that gave them momentum to go on to better things.

Academy products Will Lander and Toby Tarrant arrived to bring extra firepower to the bowling department that already contained the division’s leading wicket-taker Hopton, (41 wickets @ 16.54 with four 5-fors), Handel, (17 wickets), Shah, (15 wickets), Surrey starlet Josh Howe and some good reserves. Tarrant registered two five-fors, and Lander took eleven wickets @ 12.64 from just 38 overs.

A run of five wins out of six kept us in touch with the leaders, but the arrival of rain when well placed to mount a run chase against Chipstead left us needing an improbable sequence of results to keep our promotion hopes alive.

We did all we could do for ourselves with wins against Maori Oxshott, (Anthony Alleyne 138 not out), and Godalming; then, amazingly, results elsewhere did leave us with a mathematical possibility of promotion going into the final round of matches. Sadly, the loss of our seventh wicket at Dorking removed the possibility of the bonus point win we needed, and Farncombe joined Chipstead as deserved promotees, leaving us to settle for a credible fourth place.

Nevertheless, 2010, must still be seen as a positive. As the young side continues to mature, we are confident that it is not a lack of ability that would preclude us from challenging again in 2011. Certainly the variety of ways we found to lose a match could have been avoided, and we hope to emulate our 2nd XI and improve our position by two spots – or maybe more – next time around.

For the stattos; Shah, (673 runs @ 56.08), Handel, (511 runs @ 36.50), and Lahiri, (397 runs @ 30.54), led the batting aggregates with keeper-batsman Tom Frost making more than useful runs, including three half-centuries, to supplement his tidy displays behind the timbers. Will Gudgeon and Shah each held 14 catches each in the field.

Our thanks to Drew Patrick for standing in all weathers and umpiring the games with his usual brand of humour; to Roy Johns for keeping score; and to Jayne, Emily and many others for keeping everyone fed and watered – often to excess! – between innings and at the end of the matches.

2nd XI

The 2nd XI had a fantastic season under new captain Matt Gottschalk, winning twelve games out of seventeen completed and just pipping Oxted & Limpsfield to the Division 5 title.

Early on in the season we won six games in a row which put us in a great position at the top of the division at the end of June. From then on Oxted went on a long winning run to keep the pressure on us. Following our second win against Maori Oxshott we were promoted with two games remaining. Having lost the next game we got a stroke of luck to win the division on the final day when Farncombe did us a favour by beating our rivals after we had completed a convincing double over the side who finished fourth.

Having played every game in the season Malcolm Dickson led the batting aggregates with 395 runs and formed a solid opening partnership with Alistair McMillan who scored 323 runs. Johnny Lawes’ aggressive batting led the averages scoring 44.57 per innings and he scored three of our ten half centuries.

The only other of our regulars to average over 30 was Andy Page who also managed our top individual score of the season, (72 not out against Cranleigh.) Half centuries were also scored by Gottschalk, Gavin Gresse and Graham Tufts. Steve Wade and Peter Phipps also shored up our top and middle order when required throughout the season. Despite our relatively modest run scoring, we had plenty of depth in the batting as evidenced by several 50+ partnerships down the order including a club league record 79 for the 9th wicket between Gottschalk and Jake Lavender.

Our bowling was strong throughout the season. We had seven different bowlers hitting double figures in the wickets column, five of whom did so with an economy rate of fewer than 3 runs conceded per over. This meant we were more than able to cope with several injuries to key bowlers throughout the season.

When available Adrian Mills took the new ball and led in the wickets column taking 20 miserly wickets at 14.25. Will Frost and Gottschalk were close behind with 18 wickets each; Frost’s costing just 8.78 apiece. Frost also took our first 5-for of the season with 5-11 at Old Hamptonians; but it was Ralph Coleman who delivered the division’s best analysis of the season taking 7-23 at Mitcham.

There was also splendid support from Lawes, (17 wickets), vice captain John Crisp and Gary Harkett, (11 wickets each), both of whom suffered injuries and missed the last eight weeks of the season having bowled fantastically early on.

In the field we were as good as anyone in the division and in most games took almost every catch that came our way. We got better in the field as the season wore on and our ground fielding as a team helped the bowling effort immensely.

Just like our regulars the young players who came into the team added to a successful season, notably Alex Bond with the ball and James Trower with the bat. We look forward to seeing how these players progress in the coming seasons. It was a huge team effort to win the division and everyone who played contributed with either bat or ball or both.

Matt couldn’t have done any more in his first season as captain, and created a fun environment for the team to play winning cricket. Crucially, the team spirit was aided by his involving everyone in every game, resisting temptation to continue to bowl one bowler too long, or bat someone who had bowled a lengthy spell higher up the order at the expense of giving someone else a chance. 

We look forward the new challenges offered by Division 4 in 2011.