BY PETER WISEMAN
Beckenham returned to Foxgrove for the first time this season to take on Sutton, a very old fixture for the club, on a bright, but still cool day.
Visiting captain Luke Smith called correctly and elected to bat. The opening pair of Bopara and Woods started well against Jahid Ahmed and Kamron Takhar with 50 on the board in the 11th over before the first breach was made by Alex Purwar trapping Bopara in front.
With Shojib Ali making a welcome return to action and joining the attack, Edwards fell to his brisk medium-pace being well-held by Matt Balch. Josh Blake was batting very well and showing great style and composure in company with Sam Woods who had solidly anchored the innings.
Newcomer Cameron Pitt then replaced Purwar and with his second delivery made the ball jump from a length and catching Woods by surprise to give James Balmforth the catch.
Familiar face Fabian Cowdrey then combined with Blake and both batsmen played some excellent shots as the score rattled along at a fine rate. Blake reached a quick-fire 50 in just 38 deliveries until, with the stand worth just shy of the hundred, the returning Takhar claimed the valuable wicket of Cowdrey (43) causing the former Kent man to edge a catch to keeper Balmforth. This was the first wicket for the young seamer who has impressed in every game this season and this was a fitting reward for his efforts.
Now Blake was in full, glorious flow with acting captain James Fear’s bowling changes unable to remove him. A magnificent century was reached from 75 balls as he and Joshi added another 56 runs in quick time before Ali struck again to trap Joshi in front. The final Beckenham success was Blake for a superb 106 when he holed out to Nick Rigg off Jahid Ahmed, the innings closing on 295-6 and providing Beckenham with a massive mountain to climb.
The home reply started promisingly enough with Finn Bryan dominating proceedings and using his new-found aggression to good effect with a succession of powerfully-struck boundaries. Partner Nick Rigg, who has made promising starts in every match so far, then wafted at one from Joshi to be caught behind by keeper Josh Blake.
Skipper James Fear continued his excellent early-season form while Sutton began to turn the screw and, strangely, Bryan’s run-scoring began to wane.
The stand was worth 53 before Fear, who had again looked in ominously good form, was surprised by a Seadon ‘nip-backer’ and was bowled for 27.
Ten runs later, the same bowler accounted for Pitt and then the innings began to collapse alarmingly with the main instigator being the left-arm spinner Dane Currency. He first trapped Matt Balch in front without scoring and then Seadon removed Jahid Ahmed to make the score a perilous 99-5.
The rest of the innings was a procession as Currency weaved a web from which there was no escape to return magnificent figures of 5-10 from 6.5 overs, Beckenham succumbing horribly for 110. Next week the Kent League resumes having been suspended for 2020 and Beckenham host promoted Holmesdale.
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