Swans edge out the Cockerels in nail-biting win at Ashley Park
By Jamie Mann
Victory secured for the 1st XI to put them second in Division 2
The 1st XI arrived back to more familiar surroundings in Ashley Park, to take on Dorking on a glorious sunny day at the Home of Cricket. For many of us, this was a new opposition team to face up against, although there were certainly several familiar faces from around the Surrey Championship were in yellow and blue. Despite a few minor issues in ground setup, the game kicked off in good time, and on a very warm day, captain Dan Roberts won another toss, and decided to have a bat first on a dry looking wicket. Roberts’ new opening partner Jamie Mann, was perhaps a little unlucky to be given LBW from an in swinging yorker second ball of the game, which brought Eben Botha to the crease at his new number three berth. He got himself going with a series of excellent shots, and alongside Roberts, who looked the class act he has shown his new club to date, started to get the scoreboard moving, and quickly. Unfortunately, after a half-century stand, with the score on 56, Roberts drove uppishly to extra cover, who took a good, low catch on the second grab, and he had to go for 26. Madoc-Jones (7) came and went thanks to a good piece of bowling, and then Frano Annandale went to the same bowler, with a slightly less favourable piece of cricket. Dot, dot, bunger.
At 78/4, a partnership was needed, and Matt Nichols and Eben Botha, the only two left handers you would want at the crease, proceeded to take the sting out of the Dorking attack and blunt their way to a crucial fifty partnership. Eben went past fifty with a few lovely sweeps and punches, and looked all set to make his first century for the club, before a slight lapse in concentration meant to skied the ball to long-on and went for a beautifully made 71.
This brought Alex Pomfret to the crease, who unfortunately never got going and became Ward’s second victim, when he was LBW to another full delivery. At 134/6, the Swans desperately needed another partnership, and that’s just what they got. Joey Abbott, on league debut came in to support Nichols wonderfully well and with the combination of some aggressive running and the odd boundary, they really began to put Dorking under some real pressure. The score crept up and up, and the wicket began to show signs of wear and tear. When Abbott was eventually bowled by Erasmus for 20, Walton still had work to do to get past the 200 figure, but Nichols was supported well by Monk, Minshull and of course Dominy, and the Swans finally finished on a very competitive total of 213/9 from their 50 overs. Stand out performers with the bat were very much Botha and Nichols who both played outstanding knocks. Full credit must go to the partnerships that pushed the momentum back towards the home side.
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After a tea outside in the sunshine, Walton took to the field knowing they needed to restrict Dorking to under 5 an over. The opening batsmen of Erasmus and Lister started well, building a slow but steady partnership against the seam attack of Nichols and Dominy. Abbott replaced Nichols from the top end, and bowled tidily, hitting a good line and length. But it was Monk, who replaced Dominy at the Pavilion end, who found the all important breakthrough, dismissing Lister with an excellent caught and bowled.
Roberts then utilised further bowlers at his disposal, as the spin of Botha and then Minshull were introduced. Botha soon picked up the second wicket, with Dominy holding onto a catch on the rope at deep square leg. Douthwaite joined Erasmus but it was the same bowler/fielder combination which was to earn the next wicket, as Dominy took a low catch again at deep square leg, to leave Dorking at 121-3 just after the drinks break.
With Dorking in a good position and Erasmus batting well, the seam of Nichols and then Dominy were introduced in an attempt to sneak a few more wickets and put the pressure back on the batting side. Nichols struck first, as he forced Pitt into a false shot and the awaiting hands of Mann. Dominy then trapped Gale LBW, and Walton sensed they had a chance. The second spell of Botha brought with it another wicket, as a wide full ball was smashed to Dominy at extra cover, and the Swans’ spinner had his third wicket. Erasmus was still at the crease and continued to hit several boundaries, and moved into the 80s and 90s as the Dorking total continued to tick over.
Annandale was the 7th bowler introduced and he bowled with great accuracy and length for 3 key overs from the top end. It was at this point that Erasmus brought up his century, which included 9 fours and 3 sixes. Botha finished his spell and 10 overs with an excellent 3-46, but with 2 overs remaining, Dorking needed just 13 runs for victory.
Dominy bowled the penultimate over from the top end with Erasmus facing. The first ball was spooned up in the air and Pomfret did the rest. After a single and a dot, Glynn was then bowled through the gate and Walton were now in the ascendency for probably the first time in the innings. Dominy secured a third wicket in the over, but he certainly had Ben Monk to thank, after a poor full toss was superbly taken on the boundary, with Monk looking back into the sun. Monk himself bowled the last over from the Pavilion end, and wrapped up proceedings with a couple of dot balls and the final wicket, as Roberts made no mistake running back from mid on.
It was a fantastic fight back from Walton, who really defended their total of 213 with a lot of spirit and heart. The chairman and president were both in the watching crowd to watch a good bowling and fielding display. It was a very useful win after the defeat to Malden in the previous week, and the Swans find themselves second in the table at the end of the first four limited over games. Onto the first timed game this Saturday, as Walton take on Oxted & Limpsfield at Ashley Park.