The 4’s slipped to only their 2nd defeat of the season, going down fighting all the way against an excellent Reigate Priory side who fortunately for them didn’t have a fixture to fulfil in the higher XI of their club, and were at more than full strength. Sunbury however, in the clubhouse at Sunbury, resembled a doctors waiting room, there were eye drops going in, diacalm and sugared water being taken, bruised hands in the warm up, it was all happening.
Winning the toss (I know I know) and fielding again we soon had the skipper caught at point off the excellent bowling of Shyam Patel, who caused problems throughout his opening spell. Reigate were quickly 2 down when Stan Raymond found the top of the openers off stump and at 20/2 the opening exchanges went the way of the visitors.
Reigate then countered with a 50 run partnership before Steve Smith swung the game back Sunbury’s way with 3 wickets in an over, the third of which being a superb low catch by Declan Grey, making a very welcome return to the club, more about him later. At 80/5 we were well on top and dreaming of a pleasant afternoon chasing 130 in the Reigate sun, alas a very classy no 6 came to the crease and along with the “wont die wondering” attitude of their No 7 blazed 120 in very little time to take the wind out of our sails. Once we finally saw the back of those two, we finally bowled Reigate out for 247 in exactly 45 overs. Jerry Smith with the standard minimum 3 wickets for him and the game was 50/50 having swung both ways during the first innings.
The openers fell relatively early (for the first time this season it has to be said) dismissed by a very good seam bowler who ended with 5 of our scalps, and we were on the back foot early on. But such is the character of the side we kept going, at no point considering the draw as an option, this is a side that is going to entertain the paying public! Declan Grey looked like he had never been away, batting with assurance and power as he kept going at one end, aided by several team mates, with Mark Ventham taking 15 off an over to ease the run rate pressure, with Mo Khan and more so Stan Raymonde keeping him company, all keeping the run rate in check below a run a ball as the final 15 or so overs approached we needed 95 and it was game on. Raymonde fell to the opening bowler they had brought back on, and Reigate expected us to shut up shop, but still we kept going, valuable lower order contributions, Shyam Patel smashing his way to 26 off about 15 balls before being superbly, and to be honest, unbelievably, caught and bowled by their opener. There were doubts as to whether it would have been a flat 6 or a once bounce four, to be honest it was hit so hard no one saw it, not even the bowler who stuck out a hand and in it flew. Was this the end of the chase?
No chance, not this year. In came Rajeev Chaddha, 45 to win still, as he along with Declan (who was by now, batting on memory muscle alone having batted and run for 40 overs and doing all he can do get us over the line), chipped away at the score, but some of their higher XI fielding must have saved them 25 or so runs, and it was becoming tougher despite still only needing 8 or 9 an over. When Declan was cleaned up again it looked all over, but by now we had come so close we weren’t going to give up now, 28 to win, 4 overs, we were edging our way nearer, Stevie taking 7 off two balls, 20 to win, 3 overs, Rajeev caught and bowled 1st ball of the over and it was down to the last pair. With the bowling on show at the death it was always going to be tough, and unfortunately had Steve’s inside edge gone for 4 as it should in than of the brave, instead of uprooting his off stump, then who knows, but unfortunately a brave effort fell 20 runs short. A fair few “What if’s” but ultimately we were beaten by a slightly better side on the day, so no complaints.
Every player did themselves proud in the game today, and there is absolutely no shame in losing a close game like that, against a very good opposition. The good news is we gained a point on the league leaders Wimbledon (would have been 3 had we not been so reckless 🙂 ) to leave it all to play for at the top of the table as we enter the 2nd half of the season.