Never in the field of Wick conflict.....

Date: 10/08/2019
Opposition: Normandy CC
Venue: Normandy CC
Man of the match: Suggs (finally getting a 50 that counts!)
Prat of the match: Tim Jones (taking a wicket on his only no ball of the day)

Wick shall fight on the pitches,
Wick shall fight on the grounds,
Wick shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
Wick shall never surrender

With storms and gale force winds forecast it didn’t look promising for the go ahead of Hampton Wick’s latest, and most critical, operation but as a small window appeared in the weather, the command was given and Hampton Wick’s 3XI (not so) Able company departed on the long, nerve wracking voyage to Normandy.

We weren’t sure what to expect as we approached the drop off point, the wind was already up and a spot of rain was in the air. As Captain Zubhair surveyed the scene he relucted accepted the fact that the Wick had to begin by assaulting the defences at Normandy (he lost the toss and we had to bat).

The first wave was launched, spearheaded by Sergeant Suggs and Lieutenant Daniel who weathered an early barrage of deliveries. Advancing slowly and steadily they formed the beginnings of a beachhead, reaching 20-0 off 10. It was shortly after this initial success that Daniel bought it playing onto his stumps. Up came Private Rehman to lend his support and quickly set about gaining ground, his potent weaponry sending the Normandy defenders scattering. The Wick was gaining ground now with the score 63-1 off 20 then 78-1 off 25 before disaster struck as Rehman mistimed his latest attack and was caught at mid off.

With that the Wick called on the Old Guard, a veteran campaigner, Major Mark Steans. Bringing his cool and experienced head to the combat he set about developing his position, a mixture of stout defence and occasional precision strikes. With the Wick now needing to accelerate, Sergeant Suggs began to push, running hard between the wickets and taking on the Normandy enemy. It was in this hour though that the next mistake came. Suggs set off eagerly for yet another lightning strike only to drop a live grenade, confusion ensued and once the smoke had cleared it became evident that Major Steans had made the ultimate sacrifice and had thrown himself down over the ordinance to protect his comrade (run out as Suggs called him through for a third run).

As Suggs watched Major Steans carried from the field with a tear of remorse in his eye he noticed the incoming reinforcements in the shape of Corporal Tim Jones. “Don’t Panic” came his reassuring words. With the spritely Jones at the crease the running began again in earnest, the total beginning to climb once again with the Wick now on a solid base of 110-3 off 30 and in a perfect position to launch an all out attack. Corporal Jones was his usual vocal self continually pushing Suggs to keep running, insisting “they don’t like it up ‘em” before then being viciously cut in half by a good delivery. The enemy hadn’t counted on this bringing Grenadier Altaf “the beserker” Shahpurwala to the front lines. Renown throughout the team as never taking a step backwards he launched himself towards the enemy. Immediately dispatching deliveries to the boundary coupled with the quick running of his ever-tiring Sergeant and the Wick was in the ascendency. It was at this point that the valiant but exhausted Suggs finally fell, cut down by a ricochet off his bat onto the stumps.

This was too much for Private Shahpurwala, and in scene far more gruesome than the opening of Saving Private Ryan the red mist descended, and he began to slaughter the men of Normandy racking up a tally of 41 before finally succumbing to his wounds. With cameos from a number of Wick reserves such as Lance Corporal Lawrence and Warramt Officer Wilmot they had completely fought their way off the beaches and headed inland with a score of 233. It was time for some R & R before preparing for the enemy counterattack.

Rested, replenished, the Wick took up their defensive positions. With machine gunner Nabeel opening up at the far end and Corporal Jones manning his sniper rifle at the other it was sure to be tough ask for the opposition. Just as the assault began the weather that had been threatening throughout the day finally hit and enemy were quick to retreat to the safety of the clubhouse while Suggs, suffering flashbacks from a previously rained off engagement and muttering something along the lines of “not this time, not on my watch” was the first to dash for the covers.

Thankfully the weather lasted a matter of minutes and we were back out to re-engage hostilities, Corporal Jones carefully aiming his sniper rifle for the last shot of his first over and claiming the scalp of the enemy opening bat. He would have had another shortly after if he hadn’t overstepped the mark for a no ball!

With that breakthrough Nabeel opened fire consistently beating the bat until finally their number 3 was undone by a beautiful inswinging delivery. That brought the oppos best bat to the crease who looked in danger of overwhelming our position single handedly. It took a master stroke of Captaincy from Ahmed to change the artillery and bring on Lance Corporal Lawrence who promptly set to work barraging the opposition batsmen. It wasn’t long before he took his first scalp; after giving his best Andre Nel stare, 2 balls later he took the edge of the danger batsman which was caught deftly by Warrant Officer Wilmot. The battle was on a knife edge.

With renewed energy the Wick set about their task led in the fore by Lance Corporal Lawrence and his partner at the other end Private Joshi who kept the enemy forces pinned down. It was then that Lawrence struck again, a carbon copy of his previous kill and the Wick was gaining the upper hand. The pressure was beginning to tell on the opposition and they simply could not cope with the endless barrage of bowling that Lawrence was dishing out. Unsurprisingly he soon made another breakthrough this time his back of length delivery was cut in the air to a waiting Suggs at backward point. The long standing opener was gone and the Wick forces could sense the end. The opposition had one last bastion of hope in their number 6 batsman, scoring well but running out of partners. Captain Ahmed took charge and brought himself on along with Grenadier Shahpurwala, both continuing the good work of their predecessors but with neither unable to make the required breakthrough.

Captain Ahmed knew he had to roll the dice and bring back Corporal Jones. With a “permission to speak sir?” Jones positioned his troops and set about peppering the enemy. As the smoke cleared from his attack, three enemy batsmen lay dead. The first edged behind and brilliantly taken by Wimot, the second LBW and the third clean bowled. The opposition were beaten, but their number 6 still fought on. Jones had spent all his ammo so the Captain turned back to Lawrence and Joshi for one last push. Joshi took their number 10 but fittingly it was Lawrence who finally felled the giant last wicket.

Tired, battered, bruised. (Not so) Able Company had done it. We’d made the long voyage to Normandy and had recorded a very well deserved victory. Medals were awarded liberally throughout the team. Suggs finally making a 50 that counted, Altaf making a hugely important latter innings 41, Andy taking 3 great catches behind the stumps, Angus bowling a phenomenal first spell, Tim bowling an equally phenomenal second spell, and everyone else making valuable contributions.

#UTFW!! 156*