A SOLID all-round team performance, plus a touch of farce, enabled Burnham Sports to beat South Weald by 41 runs and move to the top of the table in the T.Rippon Mid-Essex League first division.

Sports held the initiative before a ball had been bowled when it became apparent that two of the opposition team had mistakenly driven to Burnham Cricket Club in Slough, Buckinghamshire.

The pair were embarrassed to discover that they were almost 100 miles away from their correct destination shortly before the match was scheduled to begin.

South Weald compounded their own misery by electing to field after winning the toss, believing the missing duo were merely held up by traffic congestion.

They did have a 12th man, who deputised until the 30th over when the two players eventually arrived.

By that stage, Burnham had already seized the initiative and were on their way to accumulating 254 for nine from their allotted 45 overs.

All the home team’s batsmen made contributions, with in-form Sayeid Ahmed (35) and Jack Silvester (34) leading the way.

Rob Layzell (23), Dominic Whittaker (21 not out), Joel Whittaker (21), Neil Saunders (18) and Paul Green (16) also got themselves established. Sharma was the pick of the bowlers, taking four for 54.

South Weald soon fell behind the clock when they began their reply.

Imbert, their left-handed opening batsman, ended unbeaten on 84 but it was evident from some way out that the visiting team were not going to put serious pressure on the home attack.

Andy Stephens (one for 36 from 12 overs) kept the brake on but it was left-hand spinner Tom Silvester, with a personal best haul of three for 39 from eight overs, who had most to celebrate.

James Hamilton, the captain, and Joel Whittaker shared four wickets, with Robin Whittaker taking the other to fall.

With Goresbrook and Rettendon suffering surprise defeats, Burnham’s victory was enough to give them a ten-point cushion at the top of the table with a game in hand of their nearest pursuers, who are Goresbrook and Great Totham.

“It’s very early days to be taking too much notice of the league table but we’ve won three of our four games in convincing fashion and, on the other occasion, when beaten, we were severely depleted,” Stephens said.