Club Cricket Conference

Friday, 18th January 2019

E Grinstead sense champagne time as Evans bags 9 wickets

By Charles Randall

22 August 2017

Bradley Evans, the East Grinstead opening bowler, took the first nine wickets to fall against Anstey in the Sussex Premier League, and a 144-run win provided ideal momentum for  the table leaders before  their  Royal London National Club Championship semi-final on Sunday, August 27.

Evans, from Zimbabwe, finished with figures of 9-24. As an overseas signing, he is not eligible for ECB cup competitions, but Grinstead will not be short of confidence when Wanstead & Snaresbrook arrive from Essex for this huge match at Saint Hill Road.

Evans finished his allocation still short of a tenth wicket - which would have been only the second all-10 in Sussex League history - and in the very next over Anstey's last man Charlie Rutter popped up a return catch to seamer Fynn Hudson-Prentice.

East Grinstead, more than 150 years old, have enjoyed a remarkable season based on an exceptional pace attack headed by Lewis Hatchett, the former Sussex left-armer, and Ian Sturmer, the league's leading seamer with 33 wickets. Competition is such that Toby Pettman, despite his Oxford Blue this year, is not certain of a place.

If Will Adkins's side beat Horsham at Saint Hill Road on Saturday, they will take their maiden Sussex League title, though that is a big 'if'. If they dispatch Wanstead the following day, they will reach their first national final - another big 'maybe' for what should be a large, expectant crowd .

Grinstead reached their first national semi-final by eliminating Bath, but the narrowest squeak so far was against Roffey, their Sussex rivals, who were beaten on wickets lost in a tied game. Roffey effectively needed a boundary off the last ball, and last man Luke Barnard was run out by Hudson-Prentice from deep midwicket attempting a hopeless third run for the win.

Wanstead, saddled with a backlog of fixtures, lost  four games in a row leading up to their Sussex weekend - three cup ties and a hammering at Ilford in the Essex Premier League.

Joe Ellis-Grewal's side lost their National T20 against Cannock & Rugeley, known as C & R Hawks, by two runs at Walsall, and their weekend of three games ended in disappointment. They were shot out for 59 by Ilford's Ashar Zaidi in the league and lost by five wickets. Zaidi's  7-18 included a hat-trick.

Kishen Velani's superb 106 off 95 balls was not enough to save Wanstead from a 29-run defeat at Chingford in the Essex Cup semi-final on Sunday. Their bowling could not contain the home side, who rattled up 259-7 off their 45 overs, Alfie Taylor making a brisk 91 and Peter McDermott rounding off  with an undefeated 50 in 39 balls.

On the same day, perhaps predictably, a Wanstead splinter side proved no match for Ealing at Overton Drive in the Conference Cup for the Bertie Joel Trophy quarter-final, losing by nine wickets after Ealing's former South Australia batsman Tom Plant (6-26) demolished the batting with his seamers.  Ealing, back on top of the Middlesex League, next visit Cambridge Granta for a place in the final against Sunbury, who defeated  the Joel Trophy holders West Indies United on run-rate.

Sunbury owed much to Martin Andersson's 101 not out off only 79 balls, but United should have made more than their 199 with almost seven overs unused. Lendon Lawrence, with a brisk 48, led a flying start, but the change bowling pegged them back, leg-spinner Ajit Singh Sambhi picking up four wickets. The home side launched an assault in reply and were comfortably ahead when rain ended play.

Wanstead could look back on a fine run in the National T20 with pride. They might easily have reached finals day at Derby after restricting C & R Hawks to 115-7, but Hawks, a Birmingham League third-tier side, proved excellent with the ball. Kabir Ali, formerly England, took 1-16 off four overs. Kabir (28) and Omar Ali (28) - Moeen Ali's cousin and brother - had been key run-makers against a good attack led by the outstanding Kishen Velani, 3-14 off his four overs.

Wanstead lost Zain Shahzad to a brilliant diving boundary catch off the first ball of the innings, but Adnam Akram (44) and Tom Cummins (23) pulled the pursuit round. Alas, Wanstead needed 10 runs off the last over, bowled by Omar Ali, and just failed.