Match Report – Wick 4s vs. Epsom June 17th 2017

Heavy Defeat, with Colt Positives

Upon arrival at Alexandra Rec in Epsom it was immediately clear that the 4s would have a tricky afternoon. The Epsom captain indicated that he had a strong side and the Wick captain recognised players from the very strong Viscount Sunday side that he had played before. Further discussion illustrated the difference in playing resources that the two clubs had possessed on this Saturday. On the adjacent pitch Epsom 5s were playing, whilst the Wick 4s had struggled to get 11 players onto the field – 7 of the previous weekends 4s team being unavailable. Thanks must be given to 3 members of the 4s team who were making their debuts to allow the side to field a team – James Hardy, Alex Kerr and John Ambrose – all ‘occasional’ cricketers without whom the fixture would not have taken place.

The Epsom skipper won the toss and confidently decided to bat. The 4s bowling attack had a youthful look but one that was full of promise. Over the course of the 45 overs of the Epsom innings this promise was illustrated in the full, despite Epsom scoring 231 including the number 3 scoring an excellent 130. Nabeel Shahpurwala opened the attack and bowled a beautiful spell of accurate away swing which claimed two victims. Nabeel is 16 and opens the bowling for the Wick U17 side. During his 11 overs, which book-ended the innings, he maintained superb control and accuracy and was rewarded with figures of 4-52. Charlie Higgins again displayed his skills with the ball. After a below par opening 3 overs, Charlie returned for a second spell which had the batsman in trouble and could easily have gained Charlie more than the one wicket he took. U17 James Adam, bowled 9 overs of left arm spin against well-set batsman who were looking to score. With a fast out-field and little help from the pitch he beat the bat with both flight and turn and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket. U13 Connor Hewitt, fresh from 50 for his school side, bowled 4 lively overs and took the 4th Epsom wicket which broke a partnership of 118. The Colts bowlers were joined by slightly older Ben Chapman and much older Chris Wakefield and U15 Colt wicket keeper Joe Hennessy. This was Joe’s first match in adult cricket and he gave a performance behind the stumps that offers great hope for the future; with one catch, a mere 3 byes and lots of difficult leg-side balls taken.

The Epsom score was big, the afternoon had been blazingly hot, but at tea the 4s were correctly pleased with the performance in the field. The team had not wilted under either scoreboard pressure or from the sun, with noise levels, ground-fielding and catching standards being maintained. Ben Chapman had taken a very sharp catch at slip and James Adam a swirling skier at square leg, both tricky chances well held.

With such a very inexperienced batting side, raising a competitive total was always going to be tricky for the 4s XI. This assessment proved correct as it took Epsom a mere 18 overs to dismiss the 4s for 60 and claim a well-deserved victory. The Epsom skipper did not need to use his full arsenal of bowling resources; the two Viscount fast bowlers were not asked to bowl.

After such a heavy defeat a moment must be taken for some perspective. The Epsom side is by far the strongest 4th XI side the writer has seen; including the promoted Battersea from last season. It would be a great surprise if they do not gain promotion from our league. From a Wick view-point the continued level of performance shown by our Colts is a massive plus. Gaining early positive experience in adult cricket is a big part of the development of young cricketers. Whilst the 4s are not winning matches, the team environment is very positive and supportive for our young players. With the support of all members of the 4s teams this season, our young cricketers are being the proper cricketing opportunity and education in our great game.