THE realisation that only three weeks remained of the shortened I’Anson season jolted relegation-threatened teams into serious action on Saturday.
Chiddingfold, Headley and Puttenham all won their matches, while Tilford recorded a third successive victory.
It was Brook’s misfortune to come up against the Division One champions, though. Grayswood’s comprehensive win leaves promoted Brook well adrift at the bottom of Division?One, needing to win both their last two matches to have any chance of staying up.
Tilford beat second-placed Grayshott by 85 runs on their own ground. Put in on an unpredictable wicket, Tilford struggled against the opening attack of Mark Richards and Dom Ford and were 31-2 when the restrained Mark Ramesar (26) and aggressive Jake Austin (27) came together in a 50 partnership.
Matt Cook made a useful 23 and a generous 37 extras (23 wides) helped the visitors to 177-8 after 45 overs. Cameron Oosthuizen took 3-41 in nine overs and, by this stage, Grayshott were carrying three injured players, including the returning Andy Wheble who was to bat with a runner.
Huw Town Jones and Austin gave little away with the new ball, but the drama really began with the first bowling change as Geoff Coombe came on to destroy the top order, taking five wickets in as many overs with his skiddy medium-pace deliveries.
Ramesar took two slip catches as Grayshott slumped from 27-1 to 34-6 after 15 overs.
The later batsmen put up stiffer resistance before Town-Jones returned to take the last two wickets, leaving Charlie Tuffin stranded on a defiant 25 not out. Coombe’s final figures were 9-1-22-5, while Ramesar took his tally of catches to four – all good ones. Grayshott were all out for 91 in the 39th over.
Chiddingfold’s timely return to form has given them a chance of survival. Inserted by Dogmersfield, they slipped to 49-3 against the sharp pace of Miresh Shinwari, but recovered to post 233-7 in the 45 overs. Paul Ward (58) shared stands of 74 and 52 with Matt Barnett (39) and Matt Wright (40 not out).
Dogmersfield never recovered from a disastrous start against Tom Gleave (3-8 in 5 overs) and Paul Hundley. The chief destroyer was Neil Garrett who claimed 4-12 in six overs. The home team were shot out for 52 in 23 overs.
Headley needed a decent score after electing to bat against Frensham and a fine 56 from skipper George Ellis, well supported by Gavin Arend (40), Marc Hawtin (27) and Calvin Bandi (34), saw them to 216 all out in the 45th over. Tom Charman took 4-30 in his nine overs.
Would it be enough against a strong Frensham batting line-up? Yes, emphatically, it would. James Wood dug in for Frensham, but when he was sixth man out for 54 (out of 98) there was only going to be one result. Ellis, having a good day, took 4-17 in nine overs and Matt Hall (3-14 in 8.4) and Clive Bate (3-32 in 7) shared the other six wickets as Frensham collapsed to 106 in the 35th over.
Puttenham, choosing to bat against Blackheath, owed much to opener Sajad Hussain who held his side together with a superb 103. The other batsmen fared less well against the eight bowlers employed by the visitors, but the experienced pair of John?Crouch and Aks Ilyas ensured a 200-plus total.
Ilyas and ‘Sid’ Ahmed took two wickets apiece as Blackheath collapsed to 25-4 before skipper Peter Melhuish led a recovery. Four other batsmen reached 20 and Puttenham yielded 32 extras, but Blackheath were always off the pace and were bowled out for 176 in the 44th over.
Grayswood, having wrapped up the title, were in no mood to surrender their unbeaten record and amassed 253-6 after being inserted on an excellent wicket at Brook. Grayswood had a lot to do at 81-3 after 25 overs and Tom Barnardo and Andy Major duly provided the acceleration during a partnership of 149. Major, who nearly won the race to 50 after giving his partner a 35-run start, hit 82 off 56 balls, his first 44 runs coming off just 20.
Barnardo completed a superb century and although scoring only nine boundaries, mainted a brisk pace with clever placement and good running.
Brook, needing a strong start, staggered to 11-4 against Iain Jackson (3-12) and Anil Raghu. Robin Hudson and Tom Williams stopped the rot with a stand of 41, but a wicket for Henry Hind opened the way for Jon Ashworth to tease out the late order. Jonny Dow bowled Hudson for a solid 63 and Ashworth whipped out the bottom three to finish with 4-38. Brook were dismissed for 142 with four overs left.
• Liphook & Ripsley were unable to raise a side for the annual fixture against the I’Anson Representative XI on Sunday and the game was called off at short notice.