2018 saw Thames Ditton’s 2nd XI return to the big time of the Surrey Championship, and the aim for this year following last season’s promotion heroics was to be consolidation. Despite a shaky start this was achieved, again under the committed and passionate captaincy of Amrik Natt.
After a rain affected pre-season, the season got off to a rocky start. The first game, away to Battersea Ironsides started promisingly with Spiler and Akash taking 3 wickets each. Thames Ditton subsided with the bat however, not helped by Nic Corvi being the victim of a comedy run out (in no way his fault) and various batsmen making the slow left armer look like Jack Leach. This game did bring one of the highlights of the season however, with one of the opposition’s batsmen booting his helmet over a fence, a patio and onto the pavilion roof in what was one of the most impressive sporting feats any of the team had ever seen. He then sheepishly had to go onto the pavilion roof to retrieve it, much to the amusement of all.
Next up was a game against one of the weaker sides of the division Alleyn CC. TD batted, and piled up a very defendable 208-5 off their 40 overs, with Ollie Park hitting 58 not out, Owais Waqar 41 not out and Mike Robinson scoring 43. Unfortunately, for one of the few times in the league season, rain intervened and TD were denied the chance of getting the win. A chastening defeat to Mitcham followed, before the 2xi blew Guildford City away for an incredible 28! Akash took 4 wickets and Sam Muller 2. In reply TD equally surprisingly knocked off the runs for the loss of no wickets, thanks to Tamil and Chris T. TD were back to their frustrating ways with the bat next week, as a trip out to the green fields of Merrow ended in disaster. Wasteful in the field, the 2s let Merrow score 196 in 54.5 overs, despite some good bowling from Dave Morgan and Henry W. In reply despite Tune (33) and Robinson (26) laying a platform, the tail subsided and Park was last man out for 35 with just a few overs left to holdout for the draw.
This proved a turning point with the bat however, and TD soon started racking up the scores, albeit the timed format counted against them. Against Maori Oxshott TD scored 264-6, with Lessiter scoring 45 not out and Zain Shah, Robinson, Hamza and O.Park all contributing. Stout resistance from Oxshott however meant that despite them being miles behind the run rate TD could only draw. Another big score followed against Old Emanuel with TD scoring 256-9 with runs from Tamil, Lessiter and Natt, supporting Shah’s excellent 65. Some aggressive hitting from Old Emanuel followed and TD held on for the draw in a nail-biting conclusion. A defeat to run away league leaders Old Hamptonians followed, before the TD run machine was back in action against Hampton Hill. A masterful 93 from Shah was well supported by Zain, Robinson, Lessiter, Morgan and O.Park as TD scored 256-7. In reply Hampton Hill clung on to reach 172-8 despite strong spells from Sweeney 10-1-34-3 and Tamil 12-2-30-2.
Next up came a return fixture against Alleyn CC, where the opposition were bowled out for 151, with good bowling from the older Sweeney, Tamil, S. Akhtar (not quite as quick as Shoaib) Natt and Ollie Lodge. In reply Thames Ditton limped home thanks to 30 from Lessiter and a crucial 51 not out from Aktar. Not to be forgotten either was a key 4 not out, from club legend Richard Maughan. The 2s upturn in form continued with a measure of revenge being taken against Battersea Ironsides. 50s for Shah and Robinson and good contributions from others including Ollie Lodge meant that TD scored over 250 again. In reply Tamil and Dave Morgan were superb, with Morgan taking 8.4-5-21-3 and Tamil 10-2-27-4 as Battersea were bowled out for 119. A stronger than 28 all out Guildford City side were next on the Green and TD again put a score on the board thanks to 70 from Zain and 43 from O.Park. In reply another 4 wickets from Tamil meant Guildford City were bowled out, well short of their target.
A strong Mitcham side then ended the revival, despite a solid bowling performance from TD. 2 wickets for Maughan, 3 for Zain and 4 for the promoted Sengupta meant Mitcham were bowled out for a chaseable 167 with Zain also in superb form at slip. TD however failed to mount a serious challenge with the bat with only Annable, O. Park and Morgan making double figures. A return to form followed against old rivals Merrow. Merrow thanks to Akhtar, Sam Bennett (10-3-24-4) and Weir were bowled out for just 117. In reply 50s from Morgan and Shah meant that TD won impressively by 9 wickets. Shah and Morgan again scored 50s at the lovely ground of Maori Oxshott the next week, but were not backed up by the rest of the team. In reply Maori Oxshott chased it down with 3 wickets to spare, despite what can only be described as an incredible diving catch from R. Maughan rolling back the years.
A defeat to Old Emanuel made it two from two, with 58 from O.Park, together with 26s from Owais Waqar and Ollie Lodge the only real contributions with bat, and 3 wickets from Ollie Lodge the stand out performance with the ball. A thumping win against Hampton Hill stopped the rot, as the opposition were bowled out for 147, with three wickets for Zain and 2 each for Sampad and Natt, 35 from the evergreen Robinson and a controversial first 50 for the club from Lessiter meant that TD got home comfortably. The season ended with another defeat against the very strong Old Hamptonians, despite 30s from Shah and Lessiter.
All in all a good season for the 2s back in the Championship. Notable performances included Fahim Shah 477 runs at 31.8, Ollie Park 310 runs at 31, Mike Robinson 300 at 20 and Andy Lessiter 257 at 36.71. With the ball Tamil took 17 wickets at 19.18, Spiler 16 at 21.19, Natt 11 at 26.91 and Morgan 11 at 22. Natt led the fielding with 12 victims, backed up by Shah and Lessiter behind the stumps. Next year no doubt the 2xi will hope to push on from another strong season, and go for another promotion.