Jesters 194-5 (Verma 101*)
Leatherhead 192 (Hillyard 7 wkts)
It was an afternoon of high drama at Leatherhead as we snatched victory by just three runs thanks to Santosh Verma's maiden Jesters century and Noah Hillyard's seven wickets, which included a hat-trick. Extremely well done both! Match manager Nick Mumby's report appears below...
The Jesters made a welcome return to Leatherhead Cricket Club. The captains decided on a timed game, with 20 overs from 6pm and a 2pm start leaving about 75 overs on offer for the sides to try and conjure a result.
Skipper Nick Mumby elected to bat first and, with a short boundary and a hard pitch, was looking for around 200 from a good-looking Jesters batting line-up.
Santosh Verma and Rupesh Alluri opened up but struggled initially with a slightly two-paced pitch. Leatherhead's young Kiwi opening bowler extracted a bit of extra bounce and pace and could have had both openers out cheaply. Leatherhead would pay for dropping Santosh when he was still on nought!
The first 10 overs yielded 18 runs and the skipper was starting to get a little impatient. Rupesh and Louis Harris (having fashioned a gritty 9 runs) fell in fairly quick succession, leaving Santosh and Rowan Clapp to rebuild the innings.
Rowan was initially the aggressor and when Santosh started to play with more confidence and freedom, the scoreboard finally ticked over at a pace to keep the skipper happy. A superb partnership of 106 was brought to an unexpected end when Rowan ducked and left a full-toss that cannoned into the top of middle for a well made 50.
Santosh continued the fight with deft cuts and strong sweeps. He was ably supported by new boy Olly Norgrove and Rob Dancey. Santosh brought up a well-deserved, and first ever, century in the 37th over. The Jesters declared on 194 for 5, with Santosh unbeaten on 101.
The decision to bat first had been influenced by the Leatherhead skipper's suggestion that their batting was not particularly strong, so it was a slight surprise when the two openers started flaying the Jesters opening combo of Jonny Bridcut and Matthew Berry to all parts.
Bridcut in particular was unlucky not to pick up a couple of wickets from a fiery spell. The Leatherhead openers continued to attack and chances came... but the catches failed to stick, eight of them in total by the end of the innings!
Finally, the skipper managed to pluck a chance out of the air at long-on to give Berry a well-deserved wicket. By this point, however, the score had advanced to 90 and we were still within the first 12 overs!
The introduction of Jester's MVP Noah Hillyard and skipper Mumby stemmed the scoring briefly, but the Leatherhead batsmen soon adjusted and continued to make hay. Finally, Noah trapped the Kiwi leg before and snared another with the next delivery and the Jesters breathed a collective sigh of relief.
However, with 20 overs to go, Leatherhead only needed another 63 runs. More catches came our way, but fell between fielders (or their hands). Noah, having spurned a hat-trick opportunity earlier in the innings, decided that he wanted another crack. Having bowled two of the opposition with consecutive balls, he then induced an edge which was snaffled by Santosh behind the stumps!
Nine down and plenty of overs to go. Could we get the last wicket or would Leatherhead get the 18 still needed for victory?
The skipper continued to wheel away and got another one to skid and bounce, taking the edge, but sadly it didn't stick. The home side continued to pick up runs and the target was reduced to single figures. Soon a win was within a single hit.
The opposition's hopes rested with number 9 Callum Sutherland, who had played a very mature knock. With 17 runs to his name, he had taken his side to the brink of victory.
Then came the critical moment. Bowler and batsman both gambled, with the skipper sending down a quicker ball and the batsman took a huge swing. Fortunately for the Jesters, Calum missed and the ball uprooted his leg stump.
A great game of cricket and a super win for the Jesters. Leatherhead put up a terrific fight, but in the end fell three runs short. Noah was the star with the ball, taking 7-41 from 9 overs, career best figures.
Thanks to Leatherhead for their hospitality and we look forward to returning next year.