Fourth XI miss out against Battersea Ironsides amid heatwave

Date: 08/08/2020
Opposition: Battersea Ironsides 4th XI
Venue: Abbey Recreation Ground
Man of the match: Mandeep Singh
Prat of the match: Heat

Under an unforgiving August sun, Hampton Wick’s Fours slipped to defeat against an impressive Battersea Ironsides CC at Abbey Rec. The Wick posted a first innings total of 211-7 in 40 overs, with Mark Steans and Mandeep Singh contributing half-centuries, which Ironsides chased down for the loss of five wickets.

As the travelling Wickmen assembled at the start of the match, the usual chatter about par totals, outfield conditions and viral pandemics subsided into speculation around the origin of Ironsides’ club name. The etymologists’ research was inconclusive: is it a reference to a sixties TV show of the same title? Inspired by Oliver Cromwell’s nickname? Or an unusual tribute to the American First Armored Division’s exploits in Tunisia and Italy?

Whatever the origin story, the home side would be fielding first, with Dunmore Senior calling the toss and electing to bat. Mandeep and Ben Houghton opened the batting and built a very solid platform for the Wick, with a stand of 65. The duo played the seamers well on a slow track, defending stoutly and scoring mainly via straight drives and leg glances. The partnership was eventually broken when Houghton (29) opted to sweep a flighted ball from Ironsides’ offspinner that struck him in front of middle stump, and LBW soon followed.  Tim Sturm (13) and Mandeep quickly added another 39 runs for the second wicket before the hard-hitting Kiwi was LBW to the impressive leg-spin of Kritarth Saurabh. Mandeep was then joined by Steans, who has built a reputation for reliable run-scoring since joining the Wick. He didn’t disappoint at Abbey Rec, scoring a flowing 65, including 12 boundaries. Among those boundaries, Steans showed his bat could be both scalpel (witness the wristy late cuts through backward point) and sledgehammer (the two-bounce four that brought up his half-century).

The excellent partnership was broken when Mandeep (58) fell to a sharp caught-and-bowled effort from Jack Smithson. Nevertheless, the opener had steered the innings with a fine knock, which was more sedately paced than some of his previous counter-attacks in the middle of the Fours’ order.

After Steans departed to an excellent catch from a running fielder, the rest of the batting order chipped in with quick runs in the 34 degree heat to push the Wick beyond 210. Zak Collier (13) struck the ball particularly cleanly in his cameo at number eight.

211 felt like a decent total to defend. Battersea had generally bowled respectably or better, and their fielding was outstanding in tough conditions, but their batting was an unknown quantity.

As it happened, Ironsides’ openers played fairly cautiously, with the bowling of Tom Dunmore and Kiran Lathia-Hamblin accorded a good deal of respect. Lathia-Hamblin, bowling despite a foot injury, was particularly unlucky to see a chance dropped at gully after he set up Tariq Mustafa with an outswinger. Nevertheless, as Ironsides progressed to 56-0 the Wick needed a breakthrough.

Graham Smith provided the wicket, dismissing Matthew Theijssen (26) with a fine seaming delivery. The veteran bowler proved as crafty and reliable as ever with 8-1-31-1, rattling through his overs quickly and finding some life in a largely otherwise unresponsive deck. For Ironsides, Theijssen’s (ahem) fury was replaced by the supreme calm of Shaigan Khan, who starred for the home side with an outstanding knock of 85 off just 78 balls. Khan, a strapping number three batsman, belted 12 boundaries and one six in his innings, meting out punishment to most of the Wick’s bowlers – this correspondent included. After Mandeep (7-0-36-1) removed the obdurate Mustafa (41) via a fine Houghton stumping, Khan was joined by Saurabh (32), who was in similarly rambunctious form with the bat. The duo added 75 runs for the third wicket, at better than a run a ball, before Collier plucked a fine catch in the deep off a low Lathia-Hamblin full toss to remove Khan.

While the hitting of Khan and Saurabh had taken Ironsides to within touching distance of their target, Lathia-Hamblin (8-0-40-3) injected some excitement into proceedings by dismissing Saurabh the next over, before removing McLean first-ball. All of a sudden, the young seamer was on a hat-trick, foiled only by the new batsman’s tentative backward defensive.  At 200-5, the Wick had the faintest of chances, but two more dropped catches ended any chance of a late turnaround as Ironsides reached the target with three overs to spare.

Ironsides had proved their mettle in the successful run chase, with Khan particularly impressive on a boiling south London afternoon. The Wick could take solace in their fine batting performance, and know that the environment for bowling and fielding will not always be so difficult.