FOR the second week running, there was a tie at Hollowdene and this was a truly strange contest as Frensham contrived to lose their last five wickets for six runs, Jason Stones clinching nine points for Tilford with the final ball of the game.
There was drama right from the start of the I’Anson Division?One game after Frensham inserted their old rivals. Jack Richards removed Denis Hounsham and Mark Ramesar in the first over without a run on the board and it was left to Mitch Brown and stand-in opener Nigel Martyn (in the unavoidable early absence of Andy Hall Hall) to steady their side before Martyn was bowled by Tim Knight. Brown and Huw Town-Jones then put on 40 very slowly against the accurate combination of skipper Sam Farncombe and Knight who, between them, conceded only 60 runs in 28 overs of spin.
The introduction of Tom Smith (4-27), playing his first match of the season, caused a further collapse to 91-7. When anchorman Brown was dismissed for a fine 60 off 107 balls, Tilford were 114-8, but skipper Stones and Oli Clarkson added a valuable 23 runs and the visitors closed on 146-9.
Frensham began cautiously against Town-Jones and Stones and openers George Breddy and Alex Warren were back in the pavilion with 19 on the board. The run-rate increased when Farncombe joined James Wood and the pair put on 79 in an assured partnership. Farncombe was bowled by Martyn for 34 and a direct hit by Hall Hall accounted for Richards, but Nick Green (a rapid 26) and Wood added another 37 to take Frensham to 140-5 – victory seemingly imminent with just seven runs needed.
However, Green holed out off Martyn and Town-Jones returned to bowl Wood for an excellent 52. Two singles brought the scores level with one over left. Stones bowled two dot balls and Knight was run out by Hall Hall off the third. The batsmen had crossed and Smith skied the next ball to Matt Cook at long-on.
Frensham failed to score off the fifth and, from the final ball of a remarkable game, Richard Elliot was adjudged leg before, giving Stones a double wicket-maiden and figures of 3-16.
“The most extraordinary and dramatic match I have ever scored in,” said Tilford’s Rupert Town-Jones, who has seen a few. “The game was played in an excellent spirit and we meet again in the Stevens Cup, again at Frensham, next week.”
Promoted Pirbright further cemented their place in Division One with a third successive win, beating Headley by 15 runs in a low-scoring game. The wicket kept low, the outfield was lush, and Pirbright, after electing to bat, set out to last the distance. Matt Hall (4-25 in 14 overs) and George Ellis (3-46) bowled fine opening spells and, later, Graham Badland yielded just seven runs in nine overs while taking two wickets.
However, Puneet Saraswat’s hard-hitting 34 proved crucial, while opener Awais Khan supplied stability by batting 34 overs for his 30. Alistair Hancock struck two sixes in a quick 25 and Headley were eventually set 138 to win from 42 overs.
Headley looked to be cruising to victory as Stuart Smith (40) and Ashley Beddows (31) put on 69 with watchful batting, waiting for the bad ball and punishing it. But once Aman Khan (4-43) broke the stand, wickets fell and the run-rate dried up. The pressure mounted on the batsmen as Pirbright supported their bowlers with great fielding.
With five overs left, Headley required 20 runs and Pirbright wanted three wickets – it was anyone’s game. Dean Burditt (5-30 in 13 overs) and Rupert Howe pulled it off for the hosts and Headley went from 104-3 to 122 all out in the 38th over.
Witley bravely chose to bat against in-form Grayshott and, on a track giving uneven bounce, struggled to 32-4 after 17 overs, with Dom Ford taking three wickets. Chase Pusey and skipper Ben Dobson put on 37 for the fifth wicket, but Kieran Wells (4-16 in 8.5 overs) and Danny Brown (2-29 in 14) got the home side on the run again and they were bowled out for 106 in the 45th over.
Grayshott took 37 runs from the first seven overs, with Andy Wheble hitting five rapid boundaries. But he fell to Darren Bell (4-38 in 12) who struck twice in the eighth over and sounded alarm bells in the Grayshott changing-room by reducing the visitors from 37-0 to 50-5. Further wickets for Ollie Hickman and Harry Phillips had Grayshott teetering at 81-7. However, Cameron Clarke (29) was playing the required solid innings. When he eventually fell to Ben Dobson for 29, Grayshott still required 16 runs with just two wickets standing. Wells and Brown held their nerve and saw their side to a sixth consecutive win.
Grayswood showed no sign of relaxing their grip at the top of the table as the I’Anson switched back to traditional ‘time’ cricket for the middle part of the season. Put in by Chiddingfold, the leaders amassed 268-5 in just 40 overs. Paul Hundley dismissed Dave Soper with his second ball, but it was a false dawn for the visitors as Tom?Barnardo and Rhys Dodson put on 113, both completing half-centuries. That was just the start of a traumatic afternoon for the Chiddingfold bowlers. Andy Major hit his second and third balls into the pavilion. Fifteen of his next 27 balls either crossed or flew over the boundary and he had raced to 99 off 40 balls, hitting ten sixes and seven fours, when he was stumped off spinner Ben Evans’ last delivery of the 40th over, the previous five balls having gone for 26.
At 26-3, Chiddingfold were making a poor fist of their reply, but Paul Ward and Ben Moir added 57 and skipper Ward had made 55 out of the first 83 runs when he fell to Alastair Gloak. The forceful Moir also reached 50 before being trapped in front by Dodson and Chiddingfold, at 184-9, were seven overs from saving the game when Neil Garrett, batting well for 32 not out, was struck on the jaw trying to hook Gloak. A nasty gash required stitching, and that was the end of the game.
Back-to-back wins for Puttenham, back-to-back defeats for Blackheath. Puttenham lost skipper Aks Ilyas for a duck, but their top order were soon accumulating runs, Sajad Hussain leading the way with 48 and then James Crouch and Dan Harrison flourishing in the middle order. The home bowlers stuck to their task, with Jamie Bloomfield, Hugh Jolly and Alex Bertola each taking three wickets, and the innings ended abruptly in the 46th over, with Puttenham all out for what seemed a gettable 210.
But Blackheath never got going in reply. Peter Melhuish tried to shore up his side with 32, but he was one of six victims for Ahsan Ahmed who wrecked the innings with 6-25 in 11 overs. Blackheath were dismissed for 103 in the 39th over.