The 2nd XI achieved their goal of winning the Division Two championship title through a combination of commitment, teamwork and enjoyment. This success was a just reward for always playing positive cricket, which resulted in eleven wins, four winning draws, two losing draws and just one defeat.

This was very much a team effort by a squad full of match winners, who invariably batted down to eleven and always backed themselves to win. The leadership, tactical judgement and sportsmanship of captain Steve Hankins should be applauded, despite his ineptitude as a ‘tosser’.

The 1st XI’s consistent availability allowed the ‘twos’ to field reasonably regular side, which was underpinned by a strong top five. Richard Thompson (338 runs) and newcomer Amrender Singh (358) frequently provided a good opening stand, which  allowed the stroke playing middle order of Jon Seward (253), Adam Portlock (329) and Roger Greenway (368) to play their natural game.

A variety of bowlers were used throughout the season, all of whom helped win key games. Before his elevation to the 1st XI, Mark Surridge (18 wickets @ 11.61) led the seam attack, sharing the new ball with young Halim Mohammad (12 @ 17.17) and the enigmatic Peter Hobbs (13 @ 15.85). Following the opening spurts, the combination of Ed Smith’s (26 @ 15.12) probing outswing, and Steve Hankins’ (26 @ 19.19) ‘bit of both’ strangled many innings. However, possibly the most influential bowler was the speedy Roger White (23 @ 9.57), who’s promotion from the 4th XI half way through the season coincided with a finishing run of 6 wins and 4 winning draws.

The bowlers were generally well supported by a dedicated, if aging, fielding display, led by Dean Faulkener, who reinforced his reputation as arguably the best wicketkeeper in the league.

Despite a disappointing opening day losing draw at Dorking, three excellent chasing victories over Sanderstead (Thompson 77, Greenway 65), Egham (Portlock 47*) and Old Wimbledonians (Surridge 5-39), enabled W&H to be amongst the early leaders.

Following an inept batting display resulting in only one point against a useful Chessington outfit, the match against eventual runners-up Camberley was already a ‘26 pointer’. W&H were put in and struggled to 151 all out, thanks mainly to Greenway (73), who put on fifty for the last wicket with Faulkener. These proved to be crucial runs, as a superb bowling and fielding performance saw Camberley dismissed for 134 led by Mark Surridge (5-26), and the gap narrowed to one point.

The good form continued at home to Limpsfield, as Portlock (75*) and Singh (60) were the mainstay of a commanding 227-5, which allowed Halim (5-30) to secure victory with just overs to spare.

The sole defeat of the season at Purley focussed the minds, and Chipstead & Coulsden were duly bowled out for 41 (Ben Storey 6-16), despite the help of 20 extras! This was followed by frustrating winning draws against the negative Metropolitan Police (Singh 52) and Warlingham (Thompson 70), when the opponents were left nine down. Winning ways were soon restored however, as Hobbs (61) and Greenway (51) helped set a target of 202, which Old Emmanuel never looked like reaching as they were spun out for 71 (John Dunbar 4-19).

The following two weekends proved pivotal to the campaign. Despite taking an under strength side to Honor Oak, W&H restricted the hosts to 183 all out (White 4-56, Smith 4-50), before a magnificent run chase on a wet track, realised victory with three balls to spare (Singh 53, Portlock 51, Des Cooke 20 off 8 balls). This win took W&H top of the league for the first time, and the following week the lead stretched to 17 points, as Horsley and Send were beaten by seven wickets. This does not tell the full story however and it should be stressed that Horsley and Send showed great sportsmanship to play on in dreadful weather, when other sides would have been back at their own clubhouse! After White (7-21) ripped out their top order, Horsley and Send recovered to 116 all out, however Steve Hankins (61*) quick fire assault secured maximum points, before the clouds opened again.

A winning draw at Dulwich (Singh 50, Hobbs 4-16), where their last wicket pair survived the last six overs and a comfortable seven wicket win over Worcester Park (White 4-30), meant that one win from the last two games was required to win the league.

A strong batting recovery against Avorians, led by the ‘retired’ Steve Wilmshurst (50*) and debutant Jayson Bird (47) posted a total of 225-8 in 50 overs. Avorians proved predictably stubborn and were content to bat out for a losing draw on a good track. Disappointment turned to delight however, as other results went our way and promotion was secured. The final Saturday saw a nail biting three wicket win at Brook and W&H were crowned as worthy champions.

Our sincere thanks go to all umpires, scorers, groundsmen, tea ladies and bar stewards around the league and congratulations to promoted Camberley, who we look forward to renewing our rivalry with next season in Division One.

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