GRAYSWOOD returned to Blackheath one week after losing a nail-biting Stevens Cup final and gained revenge of sorts with eight points to the home side’s six from a hard-fought draw.
The champions had wanted a league and cup double, but might have to settle for an emphatic defence of the I’Anson Cup. Still unbeaten, they enjoy a commanding lead over the chasing pack and this was only their second draw in 10 matches.
Blackheath were put in on a wicket dampened by Friday’s rain and openers Will Melhuish (36) and Rob Parrott (44) did well to put on 73 in 20 overs.
The platform was there for the strong middle order to accelerate, but change-bowlers Jon Ashworth and Cameron Kent kept a tight lid on the scoring, between them conceding 92 runs in 28 overs. At 93-3, Alan Cope took responsibility, defending soundly and then punishing the later bowlers.
Spinners Jonny Dow and James Atkinson shared five expensive wickets, Cope hitting Dow for three big sixes over long-on. Cope made a run-a-ball 58 and number 11 Ben Taylor clubbed a game-changing 14 runs off the 48th over as Blackheath closed on 186-9.
Taylor then got Tom Barnardo cheaply, but Alex Tucker came in to play the anchor role, sharing good partnerships with Iain Jackson (31) and then Andy Major (an aggressive 33).
The introduction of Mitch O’Dwyer’s spin set Grayswood back – just as it had done in the cup final. The Australian picked up three important wickets, including Tucker’s – bowled for 39. Dow and Dave Handley did enough for Grayswood to secure the extra points, but with seven wickets down and 14 runs needed, Ashworth and Kent settled for what they had and blocked out the last 2.2 overs.
Grayshott moved above Blackheath into second place after getting the better of a draw at nearby Headley. In a game dominated by bowlers, Grayshott, after losing the toss, fought their way to 56-2 with a solid partnership between Stuart Kennedy and Matt Jackson. Josh Berry, Jac McBride and, later, Kieran Wells accelerated as wickets fell, Charlie Worman taking 4-31, and Grayshott were all out for 157 in the 46th over.
Five batsmen had reached 20, and that was the difference between the sides. Seven Headley batsmen reached double figures, but Harry Clarke was top scorer with 23 and the run-rate was painfully slow.
Mark Richards (4-23 in 14 overs) and third-change Dom Ford (3-37 in 11) got the most out of the wicket as the home side laboured to 125-9 in their 43 overs. Good enough for six points, though.
Tilford gained the winning draw in a high-scoring match against fellow basement team Brook. It was a see-saw encounter at the Green, watched by a good crowd. The visitors opted to bowl and Tilford lost Andy Hall Hall to the first ball of the game – lbw to Ollie Eccles. However, after a slow start, Chris Wilson and Mark Ramesar gained in confidence and both reached their fifties in a fine partnership of 147 before the watchful Wilson was out for 63.
Ramesar went on to reach an excellent maiden century and had hit 14 fours and a six when he was caught behind for 104 (122 balls). Jake Austin and Guy Wilson added useful runs and Tilford made a midway declaration at 242-5.
Brook lost Joe Sillett early, but Rhodri Williams and Nick Jackman added 70 in rapid time before Jackman was out for 46 off 48 balls. Two further wickets fell at 117, with Hall Hall taking his second catch to dismiss Williams for 55, and with Geoff Coombe bowling in tandem with Nigel Martyn, Brook fell behind the required run-rate, and more so when Huw Town-Jones returned to the attack.
However, Paul Challinor accelerated to 62 not out (61 balls) and Brook finished only 17 runs behind on 225-6 from their 45 overs.
Tilford are replaced in the bottom two by Chiddingfold who lost by four wickets at Frensham. Put in at Hollowdene, Chiddingfold were struggling at 74-6, with Paul Ward caught for 35.
However, Nathan Eddy marshalled the late order and his 49 off 27 balls, including five fours and four sixes, helped the visitors to a more respectable 133. Jordan Frost dismissed the openers during a mean spell of 2-3 in six overs, while Adam Goulder claimed 4-23.
Openers George Breddy (21) and Tom Charman (38) set up what seemed an easy win for Frensham, but both fell to Ben Evans and the spinner posed further problems, taking 5-59 in 14 overs. With six wickets down, number 3 James Wood (39 not out) was joined by Tim Knight and the pair saw Frensham home in the 35th over.
Puttenham found it impossible to force the pace at Dogmersfield and toiled to 133-8 in 48 overs, Aks Ilyas top-scoring with 28. Manny Shinwari took 3-38 in 10 overs, while K Abbas’s two wickets came at a cost of just nine runs in 10 overs.
After an opening stand of 48 between the Raja pairing, Dogmersfield slipped to 80-5, with Sajad Hussain taking four wickets. Dhaniyal (28 not out) stopped the rot and with support from Shinwari and K Abbas, saw Dogmersfield to 18 points in the 33rd over.