- Malden Wanderers
- Reigate Priory
- Walton on Thames
In a league of two halves, the 2017 season saw Ashtead 3rd XI finish a very respectable 6th place, an improvement on the previous year both in terms of league position and points gained. This was an impressive achievement, given the availability struggles early in the season and that only three players appeared in more than half the games. Had a bit of luck gone Ashtead’s way in narrow defeats to Spencer (1 wicket), Dulwich (11 runs) and Reigate (16 runs), as well as an improved July on the weather front, the 6th place finish could have been even higher.
There were some memorable matches and performances throughout the season, most notably Michael Renauf, Rob Wint and David Whiteley seeing the team home vs. Walton in the gloom, Jordan Nichols’ destructive 69-ball hundred vs. Sutton, Sam Gale and Tom Dunn’s partnership vs. Walton, Alex Culhane arriving at the crease on crutches vs. Reigate, and the firepower of the opening bowlers Aaron Rose and Ben Sidwell returning from injury.
With 48 players used in the campaign it was unsurprising that the runs and wickets were shared around. Tom Dunn, as ever, provided consistent contributions (193 runs at 48.25 and 11 wickets at 11.27); he was well supported on the batting front by Sam Gale (235 at 47.00), Tom Culhane (213 at 23.67) and Jordan Nichols (178 at 29.67).
2017 saw the coming-of-age of Riley Jarrold (10 wickets at 16.20) with his left arm spin combining well with the off spin of Will Culhane (10 at 24.70). Shaun Wallace (10 at 15.20) mixed things up nicelyat, while it was no coincidence the 3rds had some of their best results when Aaron Rose (9 at 12.78) and Ben Sidwell (8 at 5.00) were available.
All in all, it was a good season with plenty to take forward into 2018.
Dulwich 3rd XI
This was another solid season from Dulwich 3rd XI, eventually finishing 5th having seemingly spent all season in that position. The league soon split to a ‘top 5’ and ‘bottom 5’ as the perennial strong teams of Wimbledon, Spencer and Reigate fought out their own battle at the top. A solid start ensued with three wins sandwiched between hard fought losses to Reigate and Wimbledon.
There then followed a mixture of indifferent performances and thrilling matches, with Spencer clinging on 9-down and a drawn match with scores tied against Sunbury. The second half of the season saw heavy losses to Spencer and Wimbledon before a few more wins towards the end of the season maintained respectability.
Apart from the usual issues around availability throughout the Club the main issues were around chasing larger scores and consistency with the bowling. Newcomer Faizal Kassam performed well top scoring with 294 at 42 including an unfortunate 99 not out! No other batsman scored more than 200 runs though Matt Balch and Assan Crawford-Khan (including an excellent 107 vs. Sunbury) sparkled in the early season before their rightful promotion. At other times there were cameos from Euan Johnson, James Chudley (before a season ending injury), Darren Cason and Harry Chathli.
On the bowling front Abu Arabi performed consistently to claim 18 wickets at 10 but there was a general lack of penetration from the seam department though Jeremy Jones performed consistently without taking many wickets and Gokhul Ramakrishnan showed promise in his debut season. Improvements are, however, required in the fielding.
Overall it was a satisfactory season with plenty of positives to build on. Skipper Andy Bailey enjoyed his stint and led well from behind the sticks. Huge thanks as ever to umpire Chris Reardon who stood at both ends in many matches and to Jackie for the teas.
Malden Wanderers 3rd XI
The 3rd XI suffered a turbulent year, with no fewer than eight captains used across 18 games.
That, coupled with varied availability from week to week in the teams above had a crippling effect.
Where the club had sufficient players of 1s and 2s standard to keep the 2s strong with a number of dropouts, it left the 3s exposed, with an inexperienced side at this level. When availability was strong and 2nd XI players dropped down as a result, the 3s performed admirably, including a notable win against Wimbledon. The season ended with a ninth-place finish and relegation, 12 points shy of safety, as Malden’s recent history of frail batting meant a capable bowling attack rarely posted enough runs to defend.
In spite of the disappointment, lack of numbers offered a chance to several young players, with significant promise shown by Sam Hopkins and Matt Bateman, who both finished with 12 wickets. With the bat, it was the more experienced head of Phil Downey who topped the charts with 252 runs, while there were eye-catching knocks from 2nd XI regulars who dropped down, such as Sean Keyes (111 against Sutton), Dan Hammond (92 against Dulwich) and Mike Jacobs (86 against Walton).
With relegation comes the chance for the 3rd XI to rebuild under a regular skipper and hopefully get some stability and confidence. 2018 will be a fantastic opportunity to develop some of the club’s younger talent in Saturday league cricket.
Normandy 3rd XI
In a season that will go down in the record books for all the wrong reasons, it is fair to say that the 3rd XI struggled in their first season back in the Premier Division since 2011. A year that started with optimism and hope, quickly faded away to realism and a fight for survival. In a campaign that yielded just two victories, the fixture list still conspired to give Normandy the possibility of escaping relegation with 2 games left but a heavy defeat at home to Ashtead sealed the return back to Division 1.
In analysing where things went wrong it can be summed up relatively easily, the team did not score enough runs or take enough wickets.
Only 1 batsman managed to pass the 200 run mark, the evergreen Peter Scott (301 runs at 23.15) led the way, at top scoring in 6 of the first 8 games of the season. Sadly the weight of expectation and lack of support from fellow batsmen failed to make that good early form count. Behind ‘Doggy’ came the occasional services of Michael Scott (172 at 28.67), the amicable Craig Williams (154 at 38.5) and veteran Mark Rosser (146 at 18.25).
The batting performances of the summer came from 2 very promising youngsters away at Walton where a slightly rushed Callum Job (101) and George Harris (70) flayed the attack to all parts before stubborn resistance from the Walton tail end thwarted a 10 man Normandy from gaining a vital win.
With the ball, Michael Collins managed 16 wickets at 25.06 followed by debutant Lee Smallbone (11 at 28.00), Peter Scott (11 at 29.55) and the luckless Chris Heane, whose return to cricket ended abruptly when cruelly breaking his shoulder bone and missing the remainder of the season.
The young team will be back stronger and more determined next season aiming to return to the Premier League and show their true colours.
Reigate Priory 3rd XI
An up and down season with many positives from the 3rd XI, especially the bowling with the continuing development of young spinner Wilbur Tiley and the re-emergence of old spinner Peter Friend.
Jon Smith led the way with the bat, scoring 302 runs, although the stand out individual batting performance came from Jordan Bunyan, who made 120 against Sunbury.
An end of season showdown with Spencer for the league title was deservedly won by Spencer on the day and probably deserved over the season but the 3s can be satisfied with their season finishing 2nd in the Premier league.
Spencer 3rd XI
It would be fair to say the 3rd XI started the season in tumultuous fashion. With question marks over who was captain, and losses in both pre-season fixtures, preparation had not been fit for a side looking to defend its title.
The morning of the opening fixture did little to suggest any turnaround in this regard with a Friday night/ Saturday morning capitulation seeing Spencer down to nine players, with reinforcements called in, in the shape of the opening batsman’s brother, as well as no.4’s friend who was staying for the weekend. A further mix up saw the 3s arrive at the wrong ground, arriving at the correct one and promptly finding themselves in the field and the opposition 99 without loss. Fortunately however, the 3s were able to turn to their not-so-secret weapon in Aqib Sindhu who would take the first of his 39 wickets for the season, before relying on the top run scorer from 2016, Phil Cummings, to chase down a more than respectable 220 with an imposing 83*.
However the 3s scarcely looked back from their bizarre start to the season. A loss at Sunbury in week four was the only one, meaning Spencer’s record now stands at one loss in 27. However, whilst hindsight may suggest the title was won at a canter, the reality was anything but. With three games remaining Spencer was tied on points with Wimbledon and only one ahead of Reigate. Furthermore, what made the run-in that much more interesting was Spencer still had both to play. An imposing victory away to Wimbledon, featuring a run-a-ball 52 from Tom Price, was followed by victory at Malden and coupled with Reigate winning both fixtures, led to a winner-takes-all contest on the final day.
Armed with season long stalwarts in James Lipscombe, Samad Lone and Charlie Hiram, as well as late season additions in Dean Lewis and Simon McConnell, Spencer restricted Reigate to 171 leaving the simple equation of 172 runs to retain the title. Given the task of setting the tone for Spencer’s title chase was Dan Shacklock and George Roberts. For the second year running Shacklock saved his best for when it mattered most whilst George recorded his second, but without doubt most important, 50 of the season. Whilst the usually reliable top order briefly stuttered from 85 for 0 to 113 for 3, it was left to Sameer Khan and specialist finisher Hiram to close out yet another game and crown Spencer champions for a second consecutive season.
Sunbury 3rd XI
Following last year’s disappointing season, 2017 showed very positive signs. Under new captain James Birch the 3rd XI managed to win the first five games with very convincing victories including against defending champions, Spencer. This all changed due to several players being called up to the 2nd XI and with the captain Birch getting injured. This meant it was an uphill battle and with three games called off due to rain, one winning draw and six losses, the 3rd XI could only manage three wins after this point, but this did include a very impressive win at home to Reigate.
There were only 2 batsmen to score over 300 league runs this year. Much improved Vik Rathore (345 runs at 25) and seasoned opener Lomesh Sharma (309 at 24) who hit the 3rd XI’s only century against Malden Wanderers. Batting lacked a certain responsibility and the team were bowled out cheaply far too often. Seamer Mani Bains led with the ball (18 wickets at 22) with support from Colin Bentall (15 at 28), Lomesh Sharma (13 at 21), James Birch (13 at 22) and Shirsh Bedi (11 at 22). Bowling for the season was very good but at crucial moments, the side struggled to find consistency.
Along with Vik Rathore, other colts making significant contributions were Matt Richardson and Jacob Amyatt-Leir; both impressed showing huge potential and excitement for the club as a whole.
The 3rd XI managed to achieve 8 wins, finishing 4th which shows a huge improvement on the previous year. Although it was a good return this season it could have been much better considering the excellent start. Losses to teams in the bottom half of the table were the biggest downfall which was mainly due to inconsistent batting performances. This must be improved if the team is to challenge for the title next year.
Sutton 3rd XI
A mixed bag would be the way to sum up the season. Winning 5 games in the first season back in the Premiership was enough for the team to achieve its target to solidify its position in the division finishing a creditable 7th.
The strength was bowling, with the evergreen Nick Clark taking 19 wickets at only 17.26 apiece. Nav Nonis was next with his 16 wickets each costing a miserly 9.75. In his first year at the club Chat Premasinghe proved to be a genuine all-rounder combining 16 wickets with being the top run scorer with 230 runs.
It was batting where the side struggled with the next two highest scorers being Matt Gardner with 197 and newcomer Venkat Putani, whose debut unbeaten hundred against Malden Wanderers was a memorable moment of the season. Only 4 others passed 50 in a game this year, the honours going to Rob Shaw twice, Ali Hasan-Butt, Achal Srivastav and Nav Nonis.
The highlight of the season was the remarkable spell of bowling which saw Sai Patel almost single handedly bowl out Normandy, the young seamer in unplayable form and finishing with match figures of 8 for 6.
Along with taking the field with fellow 3rd XI veterans vice-captain Bobby Foster and Nick Clark it was a pleasure to welcome new blood in the team with the newcomers being vital to the team’s success. It is continued recruitment along with the ever impressive colts that will hopefully guide the team up the table in the coming years.
Thanks go to everyone who gave up their time to help the side through the season, especially Ian Philippe, Neil Clark and John Fordham for their umpiring expertise and JC for his scoring skill.
A final mention must go to Lyn, Anita and Dani for their spectacular efforts on the tea front. When cricketing ability let the team down the ladies were always on hand to provide the best tea in the league.
Walton on Thames 3rd XI
The 2017 season began with a lot of promise for the 3rd XI with some talented young players coming through looking to test themselves at Premier Division level. An eventual 8th place finish was a good achievement given the number of changes that were forced upon the side most weeks.
A summer of ‘almost’ performances began on the first day, where a century from eventual top run scorer Mike McDonagh (221 runs at 37) was not quite enough against Spencer. An addition in Andy Latchford was certainly one of the positives of the campaign, ending as top wicket taker (16 at 16) including a hard-fought 4-fer at Reigate. The ever-reliable duo of Oli Clarke (13 at 22) and Ed Thom (13 at 23) were key foils in breaking down opposition line ups. One bowling highlight of the year was Daniel O’Connell’s excellent 5 for 27 at Spencer.
The first win was achieved against local rivals Sunbury thanks to an unbeaten 52* from Jon Greet hoping the team would push on in the second half of the season. A brilliant effort at Dulwich chasing 245 spearheaded by Ashley Walton (172 runs at 29) epitomised that fighting spirit despite only claiming a draw. Cam Allen (172 runs at 22) also chipped in with some important innings throughout the year.
The last 4 games included a vital win against Malden after a superb knock of 64 from Will Hagger and almost saw the team defend a paltry 93 against Dulwich only to lose by 1 wicket. In the end, it came down to the last day where a comfortable win over Normandy led to an anxious wait before finding out that the team’s Premier Division status had been secured.
Thanks to Dave Rolton, Josh Thomas and Rohan Wilde for their fantastic effort and contributions throughout the season. The team is looking forward to challenging for higher positions in 2018.
Wimbledon 3rd XI
The 3rd XI enjoyed another consistently good season in 2017 and for the majority of the year were well in the hunt for the title, before ultimately falling just short.
A number of players were utilised throughout the season but the side did manage to retain a regular core which really helped to build a fantastic team spirit, with a group that genuinely enjoyed each other’s successes as much as their own.
Having lost the previous seasons lead batsman and bowler, there were early questions as to who would step up to fill these two voids. However, in reality, wins this season were based much more on all-round team performances, with a number of players having very good seasons and with all members of the squad stepping up at different times.
The batting was led by the likes of Slater, James, Bakker and Clifford all chipping in with useful season totals. With the ball, new recruit Haverson led from the front taking his wickets at 10.6, while Houlder once again showed his class to finish as leading wicket taker and Whipple delivered consistently when available. In the all-rounder category; Roodt and Oliver delivered consistently and will hope to build on fine debut seasons next year. Special mention must go to the fielding unit this season which was regularly of the highest order, in particular Urquhart, Clifford and Cooper, whose energy and quality would add to most 1st XIs in Surrey!
It was noticeable how many young players featured regularly in the 3rd XI and also how many were able to push on and play a big part in the 2s title win; a real testament to the way the club is run from top to bottom. If this squad can stay largely intact, and with another season’s experience in league cricket behind them, there is no reason Wimbledon 3s cannot dominate and win the title next season.