Match Report – Wick 4s vs. Ashford June 3rd 2017
Ultimately, the result went against the 4s; a loss by 1 wicket after Ashford successfully chased 133 to win. Whilst this result was disappointing to those involved, the primary emotions were a mixture of pride and enjoyment. Pride in the performance of the team, particularly in the field. And enjoyment because playing in a cricket match which is full of tension and drama is a great experience and one that never ceases to be enjoyable.
The 4s welcomed 3 players making their Surrey Championship debut – Ben Chapman who played Colts cricket at the club and is returning to the game after a break, U15 Sai Srirangam and U13 Connor Hewitt. The match started with the Ashford captain winning the toss and inviting Wick to bat. The batting order looked strong-ish on paper, with the regular bats joined by the Tiffin U15 openers Sai and Tim Jones, along with Abdur Rahman and Dhvanil Karia. The line-up had some risk within it (don’t 4th XI batting line-ups always?) and so the lower order included the skipper as insurance.
Phil Miles and Ben Houghton opened proceedings against a very accurate Ashford pair. The game was quiet during the early overs, offering no indication of the drama that would follow later. An easy-looking single almost reduced proceedings to a ‘carry-on’ style farce, when a mix-up in calling meant that both batsman sprinted and were injured; Houghton in the calf and Miles in the back. The latter’s injury was more serious and he was unable to bend sufficiently to deal with a delivery which kept low. Over the next few overs the scoring rate dried up and Houghton, Jones, Srirangam, DK and Rob Ritchie were dismissed in quick succession. At 50-odd for 6 thoughts of strong-ish batting line-up had been dismissed and the hope was to get somewhere near 120. Skipper Nick Dunmore joined Rahman and the two Ashford bowlers who had been operating for 20 overs began to tire. Short and wide balls were punished by both batsman; Rahman stylishly, Dunmore rather more belligerently. Having taken 20 runs off one over Dunmore was dismissed for 37, but the score was now 105. Ben Chapman quickly followed along with Rahman, for an important 20. Connor Hewitt was then joined at the wicket by Simon Boughey, and the team quickly realised that no one had never seen Simon bat! Over the next few overs Boughey blocked and left with aplomb, admirably supporting his younger partner who played several confident and powerful straight drives, before falling to a ‘hand-grenade’ for a well-made 14. The last wicket pair had taken the 4s to a total of 132.
Tea was taken, and the 4s felt that the batting recovery had produced a total that was defendable. We would need to bowl and field well, back ourselves and support each other; a focused effort in the second half of the game was required.
Upon taking the field it was immediately obvious that the team had the necessary intensity to produce the required performance. The noise level was high and the ground fielding aggressive and clean. Boughey and left-armer Chapman opened the attack, despite Chapman informing the skipper that he didn’t want to bowl up hill. Chapman’s first over began with two caught and bowled chances, the second of which Chapman snaffled. Boughey had found his line and length immediately and the Ashford batsman were under pressure. DK replaced Chapman up the hill and produced impeccable deliveries which worried both bats; removing the opening bat LBW. However, the Ashford number 3 looked like a good player and we knew that it would only take one sizable contribution to take Ashford to the required total.
After an excellent and unlucky 7 over spell Boughey was replaced by U13 Hewitt, full of confidence from his batting display. Hewitt took a wicket in his first of three good overs which included a
difficult dropped catch. The intensity on the field had been maintained at this point and over the remaining overs it was to increase as the pressure built upon the Ashford batsman. As a team the 4s ground-fielding held up well, despite 3 or 4 chances or half-chances being spilt.
Chapman was re-introduced coming down hill and the change was obvious from the start; increased pace, hostility, accuracy and rhythm showed the skipper that he had been wrong at the start of the innings. Wickets began to fall to Chapman as he and DK kept up the attack. But the Ashford number 3 was still at the crease and was scoring fast enough to take the score past 100. Resistance was broken when Chapman re-arranged the number 3’s timbers, leaving Ashford needing less than 30 with 5 wickets left. The intensity in the match that had slowly been building now came to a crescendo during a drama-filled hour of cricket. Chapman, DK and Hewitt bowled with great control, the fielders backed their bowlers and the Ashford batman felt the full force of a Wick squeeze. With runs at a premium, the Ashford middle and lower order were dismissed in a procession, including a remarkable run-out by Hewitt after the batsman wandered around and never make his ground. As the final pair came together the tension in the air was palpable and the winning runs were greeted with a roar of relief by the Ashford players.
Hands were shaken and both sides agreed that the game had been a good one to play in.
As a performance by a Wick 4s XI, this had been by far the best fielding effort that the writer has enjoyed with the club. All 11 players were outstanding in the field, with intensity and concentration that we could all feel and be proud to have been part of. The bar is now set for future performance levels.
Ben Chapman finished with 43-5 from 10 overs, a super return from a very good first outing in league cricket. Connor Hewitt’s performance was excellent for an U13; with bat, ball and in the field, he was always in the game and showed confidence and cricketing maturity way beyond his age.
The drama was over and the game was lost, but by goodness it had been a good game to be part of.