Woking and Horsell won a thrilling game last Saturday at home to Epsom to push them up to 6th in the table with 4 games left. Having lost the toss and been asked to field on the warmest Saturday of the season, Woking were made to spend the afternoon chasing the ball around as the opposition batsmen took advantage of an excellent batting pitch at Brewery Road.
With the stifling heat and 3 of the seam bowling attack fasting for Ramadan skipper Damien Honey rotated his bowlers in short spells. This initially worked as Shazad Hussain picked up both openers in a 4 over burst before John Hargan and Honey picked up the vital wickets of Moore and Hudson, the latter to a brilliant one handed diving catch from Phil West. The game was nicely poised at 86 for 4 at the midway point and Woking tried to press home their narrow advantage by bringing the opening bowlers back into the attack to get into the tail. However, Epsom only lost 1 wicket in this time as Berry fell to Hussain and their overseas star Chandarsekera started to counter attack, despite a painful blow to where it hurts the most which left both sides in fits of unsympathetic laughter!
He received good support from Collin as the pair put on 80 for the 6th wicket before Honey removed them both in successive overs. The tail wagged for Epsom, scoring at a run a ball before Hargan returned to mop up the tail and finish with 3 wickets alongside Honey’s 3 and Hussain’s 4 wickets.
250 was the target set for Woking, a pretty stiff one considering their inability to chase scores over 120 this season, indeed it was double their previous highest 2nd innings score. The run chase almost got the disastrous start as Sammy Managei was dropped 2nd ball. Extra’s however, got off to a good start with a plethora of 5 wides and early boundaries saw Woking race to 44 off the first 5 overs. Unfortunately during this time both Managei and Jan Kreder had persished.
Hargan joined Toby Green and the pair put together what was probably Woking’s finest partnership of the season. Hargan’s innings was delightfully paced as after a slow start, he accelerated past Green and passed 50. With the score on 150, Green fell to Somerford for 42 and Tim Keene joined Hargan on his return to the 1st XI.
The pair put on 40 good runs before falling in successive balls to Honess and when Sharaz Hussain fell next over it looked like Woking’s run chase had fallen to pieces at 190 for 6 with 10 overs left and 60 still required.
However, with Qais Nawaz at the crease, anything is possible and after a couple of overs to play himself and despite feeling light headed from fasting, he found time to smash 3 sixes in an over off Collin. Giles Green stuck around for 7 overs and the pair bought the score within 14 of victory, but Epsom still had one last card to play. Chandrasekera returned for his final 2 overs of his allotted 10 and removed Green, Hussain and Honey in just 4 balls. With only West to bat nursing a broken finger the game looked up.
Nawaz then played his game changer, smashing a six which was still rising as it passed the surrounding street. 5 runs were required for victory in the last over with Chandrasekera the bowler. 3 singles were scrambled off the first four balls and before a dot on the 5th ball. However, with the field in West defied the pain to stroke the off spinner through the outfield and scramble the 2 runs for victory amidst delirious scenes amongst team mates and supporters to complete Woking and Horsell’s biggest run chase in over 15 years.
Honey was naturally delighted after the game, “It feels like we’ve stolen a victory to be honest, but we all know what Qais is capable of when he gets in. We’ve chased modest targets terribly this season but in a strange way we relaxed and played naturally but aggressively because the target was larger than we are used to. I’m delighted for John to score his first 50 for us in such a good win will boost his confidence and he is starting to show the promise that we all knew that he had. Such is the way this season has gone though, we are still looking over our shoulder at relegation and we lose 6 players for next week’s crunch game against Churt. However, a win would see us reach safety.”
Meanwhile at Streatham and Marlborough, Woking and Horsell 2nd XI secured their second successive promotion with their 11th win in 11 games this season, a truly remarkable record.
It was an all too familiar story for Woking and Horsell as they succumbed to their 3rd successive defeat at Addiscombe on Saturday. Once again their bowling and fielding excelled to bowl the opposition out for a low score, only to see the batting struggle on a difficult pitch against some good bowling.
Such was the low confidence of either captain in chasing down a total, both were looking to go against the grain in the declaration games and bat first. As it was Addiscombe won the toss and raced away to 88 for 2 off 20 overs as a Woking attack missing all of their regular seamers struggled to keep the runs down. Youngsters Calum Chisholm and John Hargan bowled well and picked up a wicket apiece but too many ‘boundary balls’ allowed the score to tick over.
As mid-innings drinks approached Tom Dunbar changed the impetus of the game with a brilliant run out of Addiscombe main batsman Crowie. When Toby Green in his 1st bowling spell in 5 season removed Moore for 36 in the next over Woking were back in the hunt.
After drinks skipper Damien Honey immediately looked to changed things around bringing Chisholm back into the attack to try and take vital wickets to get into the Addiscombe tail, whilst putting himself on at the other end to dry up the runs. The plan worked perfectly, backed up by some excellent fielding. Liam Monaghan and Pete Day took 5 catches between them and Honey finished with the miserly figures of 4 for 10, superbly supported by Chisholm with his best 1st XI figures of 3 for 38. What had looked at 20 overs at likely being a target of 220 plus was now only 142.
Given the poor form that Woking batsmen have been in this season, a good start was required. This was not to be as the once prolific Dunbar was out for 2 and Green survived a few scares before being trapped for 10. Hargan and Jan Kreder quickly followed to poor judgements and although Day and Monaghan stuck around for a while they failed to change the direction of the game as the score was a paltry 54 for 6.
By now John Wolff had settled into playing the best innings of the match, the only person who really looked comfortable on the pitch. He found able support in Giles Green who has often does, dug deep to ensure that he did not give his wicket away. The pair gradually eeked out a few runs with a partnership of 29. Wolff then was bowled by the ball of the day from Moore and as Green continued to dig in there was a real possibility that what looked a very unlikely result of a draw was possible.
However, Honey, knowing that 1 point for a draw was no good for his team came in at 96 for 8 with all guns blazing scoring 21 at quicker than a run a ball before getting his bat stuck and being run out with only 20 required. Hostilities were now at the forefront as Addiscombe’s opening bowler and captain continued to unleash a barrel of expletives at young Chisholm. Eventually with 20 balls left Chisholm was bowled and Woking were left 16 runs short with Green 23 not out off a painstaking 80 balls.
Woking have a week off now like everyone else in the league for the cycling and skipper Honey will be desperate for his batsmen to rediscover their modjo in this time.
“Once again our bowling and fielding today was exceptional, especially given the inexperience of our attack, but I just don’t understand what’s going wrong for our batsmen. This has been going on for too long now and if we don’t correct it now, it’s going to be a very painful last few games” said Honey.
If there were serious promotion thoughts starting to creep into the minds of the Woking and Horsell players after successive victories in the last 2 weeks, these will have been put to the back of the mind after they failed to chased down a below par 159 on a good pitch against lowly Old Emanuel. Despite having a number of players missing, especially from the batting line up, this was a game that Woking should have won to show that they had true promotion credentials.
Things started well for the home side as skipper Damien Honey made it back on time from the overnight flight from New York to win the toss and put Old Emanuel in. Sammy Managei once again set the tone early for an excellent bowling display with 2 early wickets and Callum Chisholm returning for his 1st game in 2 years for the 1st XI after a nasty shoulder injury, showed good control in his opening spell.
As record breaking all rounder Arvind Maan looked to bed in for a long innings and opening Abdul Wakeel mixing sporadic bursts of aggression with curious defence, Old Emanuel recovered to 64 for 2, before Honey introduced himself and off spinner Phil West into the attack. West picked up 2 quick wickets including the crucial one of Maan, but with some big hitting from Opie, the score moved on to 118 for 4 with 10 overs left. Woking’s accuracy with the ball and enthousiasm in the field then shone through as wickets fell quickly. Managei returned to finish up with excellent figures of 5 for 36 and Honey (2) and Chisholm picked up the others to fall as Emanuel collapsed to 158 all out.
Against a basement team whose bowling has not fired this season, the Woking batsmen should have been able to grasp the opportunity and secure a win, especially given that they had 50 overs to do so such was there fast over rate, but as is so often the case when chasing they lost early wickets and succumbed to the leg spin of Maan (6 for 21).
Only Managei (13) and Liam Monaghan who top scored with 15 not out reached double figures as a mixture of bemusing strokeplay and hasty L-B-W decisions one by one the batsmen fell to leg spin at either end. The sorry total of 75 all out almost flattering the Woking team.
“For half of the game today we were superb, the fielding was energetic and the bowling accurate and probing. It was probably a 220 pitch so we shouldn’t have had any problems chasing down the runs. But we have some batsman now out of form and other missing and our innings just never got going. We had several of our 4th XI watching and they must have been wondering what was going on. But we know that we will come back from this, the batsmen just need a couple of breaks and we can get scoring 200+ again, we have the talent for sure.”
Woking will be up against it this weekend though as they take on runaway leaders Cranleigh who seem to field a different set of ex county players each week.
Cool heads, accurate bowling and some sharp keeping by stumps man Giles Green allowed Woking & Horsell to secure a vital victory over bogey team Churt. Once again with another week of rain the pitch was soft and slow and offered great help to the bowlers. Churt had no hesitation upon winning the toss to put Woking into bat.
Despite the difficult conditions openers Jamie Williams and Toby Green managed to survive the first 10 overs with only one major alarm when they collided heavily mid pitch and Williams was lucky to survive both at the crease and without breaking his ribs!
A platform of 32 for the opening wicket was a decent start, but once the first wicket fell the middle order struggled to impose themselves as Churt relied heavily on the experience of Thomas and Power to stem the flow of runs. Green was keen to buckle down but well aware that the pitch was tough he wanted to keep the scoreboard ticking. When he fell for 29 the innings was struggling at 67 for 5.
Tom Dunbar and Liam Monaghan initially consolidated as the score limped on to 80 after 40 overs, but then looked to accelerate and the innings was given a major boost by a whirlwind cameo from Qais Nawaz who smashed 2 sixes in his 27. Damien Honey and Shazad Hussain put on a crucial 18 runs for the last wicket to bring the score up to 149 all out.
Churt had 46 overs to get the runs and started off slowly against the spinners, but it was ‘Golden Arm’ Nawaz who made the breakthrough taking 2 wickets in his 1st over with the new ball, the first to a lightning stumping from Green. Things then got a bit lively with the swirly winds producing swirling rain and the Churt tempers which had been on edge throughout now combusted as the umpires took the players off.
It hardly seemed worth stressing about as only 3 minutes and no overs were lost, but it fired the Woking side up as Nawaz continued his great game with a brilliant direct hit run out from the boundary to remove the fiery Higgins. Spinner Honey and seamer Sammy Managei kept up the pressure with regular breakthroughs, picking up 3 wickets each. However, skipper Power kept Churt in the hunt as he crashed 43 to push Churt up to the winning draw total.
Woking were not phased though as all the while Power was swinging it gave them a better chance of picking up his wicket and eventually it was a smart stumping by Green off Phil West which sealed the victory by 25 runs.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with this win’, said skipper Honey. “They’ve been our bogey side recently and we were robbed of victory there last year so it feels really good to win this. Once again our bowling was accurate and batting the full 55 overs was crucial. It was Qais’ knock which made the difference and he had a good all round game.”
“It would be nice now if we can put consecutive wins together as we’ve not been able to do that yet.”
The win puts Woking up to 4th in the table.
Woking & Horsell were blown away by Staines opening bowler Tim Bloomfield as they looked to build on last week’s victory. The former Middlesex player took 6 for 22 from 20 overs and was unplayable at times on a pitch which offered much help to the bowlers after a week of torrential rain.
Skipper Damo Honey won his first toss of the season and invited Staines to bat first and was soon rewarded as Kiwi Ian Meyer picked up a wicket with his 2nd ball in his first game since 2010. League top run scorer Felix Walker attempted to dig in, but his 49 ball marathon innings for just 3 was ended by a sharp reaction catch by Toby Green off Sammy Managei’s first ball.
When skipper Kirk Mullard fell Staines were in trouble at 33 for 4 from 23 overs and Woking scented the opportunity to chase a low score. However, Bolton joined Smith and played the innings of the game, chancing his arm through the leg side but hitting 52 in progress including a partnership of 45 with Bloomfield which was the key. Shazad Hussain returned to blast out the tail and pick up 4 for 24 as the Staines innings closed at 124 all out. Woking were left to rue missed opportunities as run out and stumping chances were missed and a couple of catches went down.
They then got off to the worst possible start as the in-form Green and Managei both fell early. Although the middle order battled valiantly they had no answer to Bloomfield. Runs were easier to come by at the other end as Meyer crashed the spin of Tuitt for successive boundaries, while John Wolff was unlucky to be adjudged lbw for 8. Once Meyer had gone the game seemed up at 60 for 8, but keeper Giles Green who has yet to be dismissed this year had other ideas. Together with Honey, they put on the highest partnership of the innings, but after Honey fell and a couple of blows from Hussain, the innings was over at 100, just 24 runs short of Staines. Green was left stranded top scoring with 20 not out.
The defeat leaves Woking just above the relegation places with some crucial games coming up starting with this week against bottom side Churt.
“It’s difficult to pin point exactly why we lost on Saturday. We missed a couple of chances in the field which could have cost us 30 runs, but we still thought that 125 was below par and very gettable. But then we came up against one of the best and most experienced bowlers in the league and its no coincidence that Staines have won every game that he has played, yet lost the others. We just need a partnership of 30/40 from within our top 6 and I think we would have gone on to win. Once again the bowling was excellent and it was great to have Quag (Meyer) back in the side,” said Honey.