Friendly Cricket in the Sun
|Man of the match:||Yasir Ahmed|
|Prat of the match:||No one|
The writer last played a fixture starting at 11am in the early 1990s at the beautiful Ingham CC ground in north-east Norfolk. All day fixtures are a rarity these days but arriving at the Wick on a beautiful day had great similarities to that fixture in terms of playing cricket in glorious surroundings. Graces CC are regular visitors on Sundays and always play the game in the spirit of friendly cricket. Inviting Graces to the Wick Cricket Week was a safe method of making sure that the fixture would be fun for all.
The Graces skipper won the toss and elected to bat. Tim Jones and Sam Jones opened the attack for the Wick, to a never-ending chorus of ‘bowled Simon, bowled Dom, bowled the wrong sibling’ from the slip cordon. Tim Jones immediately hit his line and length and threatened the Graces opening pair. At the other end his brother was a trifle short but was able to extract the occasional excessive bounce from the pitch. Tim struck first, assisted by guest Yasir Ahmed taking a very good catch at second slip. In the next over Tim again found the edge, with Ahmed parrying upwards for Michael Wood to safely pouch the chance. Sam then got his name in the scorebook when an attempted pull stroke was spliced to Caleb Bate at mid-wicket. This was a good catch by Bate who was rather distracted by events at Old Trafford as he sought updates from the New Zealand World Cup match.
By this point Ted Goodwin had replaced Tim Jones and was quickly rewarded with a wicket as the batsman played all around a straight ball to be LBW struck on the full. With the score reading 22-4 skipper Nick Dunmore decided to ‘open the game up’ and brought himself on to bowl. The ploy was in part successful as Dunmore produced his usual mix of slow deliveries, most landing in about the correct spot. The Graces skipper was frustrated to be deceived by one delivery; he played 2 or 3 shots in his head before lobbing the ball gently back to Dunmore for a catch. With the score 26-5 there was the danger of multiple innings being required.
The Graces batters quite correctly dug in and looked to score carefully. The remainder of the innings was an all spin/slow attack from the Wick. Goodwin (7-0-28-2) bowled his leggies whilst Dunmore produced career best figures of 7-1-19-2 and doubled his career wicket tally for the Wick. Wood (4-0-23-0) and Bate (4-1-10-1) both bowled turning off-breaks. The bowling of Wood was average, whilst Bate produced turn at a decent pace – could this be an option in Saturday cricket? Mandeep Singh (7-0-32-1) produced many of his variations including one spectacular googly. Both Jones brothers returned, Sam (9-2-18-1) bowling leg spin and Tim (7.3-2-13-2) bowling off spin. The Graces lower order battled hard, led by the number 7 who scored a well-constructed 66*.
The Graces innings closed on 154 with an excellent run-out by Sam Jones. The Wick had bowled 45.3 overs, which in the context of all-day cricket, was a very fair effort. Ground fielding and catching were good by the Wick team. Sam Jones took an excellent low diving chance at short mid-off; Ahmed took a sharp gully catch from the bowling of Bate and Dunmore held a high chance off Goodwin.
The innings break coincided with the last few overs of the New Zealand v India World Cup semi-final. Cheers from the bar indicated that New Zealand were victorious.
Opening the batting for the Wick were Yasir Ahmed and Ian Collier. The early exchanges were dominated by Ahmed who was severe on anything short or wide. With the score rattling along Collier (4) was deceived by a full toss which he lost in the glaring sunlight. Harry Copeland joined Ahmed for the few balls remaining before tea.
Over a leisurely tea the sides mingled and chatted. The Chair of Iceland cricket was guesting for Graces and invited the Wick to tour Iceland for fixtures on a lava cricket ground. Everyone commented on the quality of Ken’s tea – thank you Ken for providing refreshments throughout the day.
Play resumed with the Graces bowlers hoping to see the back of Ahmed. One huge straight six brought up an excellent 50 for the opener, who was then well caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 53 trying to repeat the dose. Graeme Tong joined Copeland at the crease. Both batsmen produced a variety of attacking shots. A perfectly timed reverse sweep from Copeland sticks in the mind. Copeland was triggered for 27 and Tong very well-caught at gully for 45 which left Bate (18*) and Wood (6*) to take the Wick to the winning score.
Thank you to our friends from Graces CC for accepting the invitation to be part of the Wick Cricket Week.