A magnificent partnership of 262 between Gary Butcher and Ali Jaffery was enough to secure a victory which sees Cheam all but mathematically relegated from the Surrey Championship Premier League, writes Tim Scott.
After winning the toss and inviting Banstead to bat Cheam almost had the dream start as Steve Clark found the outside edge of Gary Butcher’s bat only to see the chance go to ground. No one, at that stage, knew how costly that was to be. Leeroy Harrison had skipper Jack Martin caught behind having been adjudged, possibly harshly, to have got a glove on one which clattered into his helmet on route to the slips. Shorn of their Surrey stars Banstead were on the ropes and reliant on Butcher and the incoming Ali Jaffery to set a meaningful total. They did not disappoint as, either side of an interruption for rain, they put the Cheam attack to the sword in adding 262. Only Clark, bowling his 10 overs straight through, was spared the carnage as both batsmen recorded outstanding centuries, with Banstead finishing on 297-5.
The rules for rain interruptions are at best flawed and require the side batting first to complete their 50 overs before a re-calculation of the second innings. Despite a lengthy delay for rain, and further unfortunate interruptions, officially only 14 overs were lost leaving a target of 249 from 36 overs. That in itself does not sound improbable or unfair but for the fact the Banstead innings did not conclude until 6pm meaning that there was little chance of 36 overs being bowled and ensuring that the game would end in total darkness.
Despite the farcical nature of the situation the pitch was excellent and the outfield fast giving Cheam, with a good start, a small semblance of hope. Sadly at 34 for 5 all hope appeared lost until a magnificent partnership of 84 between Dan Johnson and Michael Burgess put Cheam right back in the hunt. Johnson hit down the ground superbly for his 71 while Burgess mixed conventional and reverse sweeps with the occasional lust blow down the ground for a well struck 36. With the light now fading rapidly, and the only illumination coming from the electronic score board, Martin recalled opening bowler Richard Bedbrooke and he had Burgess well held at point as the young wicket keeper perished in the cause. Johnson followed soon after as the final batsmen effectively swung blind in near total darkness. At 8:30pm the umpires finally called a halt with Cheam 30 short of a further reduced target due lost overs, the light now completely extinguished not just on the match but also on Cheam’s faint hopes of Premier survival.
Cheam visit Reigate hoping to salvage a little pride after failing to secure a single point from the limited overs format.