Catches Win Matches – Missed Chances Do Not

Date: 22/05/2022
Opposition: Gentlemen of Hampstead CC
Venue: Hampton Wick Royal CC
Man of the match: Lady luck for Gents skipper
Prat of the match: Browning's gloves

On a lovely May afternoon the Sunday XI convened for the annual fixture with the Gentlemen of Hampstead. The assembled XI included some new faces: U15 Anish Varasala making his senior debut, Richard Phillips and Simon Davies making their Wick debuts and guest Billy Hulks visiting the club for the first time. Skipper Zak Collier spend a lengthy amount of time conversing with the Gents skipper and the Wick were batting.

The Gents are a fun bunch who are traditionally very varied in their cricketing skills. This was illustrated as the opening bowlers produced in excess of 20 wides during the first 8 overs. Wick openers Phillips and Collier (jnr) struggled to settle and there was no rhythm to be had, so whilst the score moved along Collier (15) was deceived by a rare straight delivery. New Wick member Freddie Nehls celebrated being promoted in the order by spooning his first delivery to fine leg. When Phil Miles nicked behind the Wick had lost 3 wickets for not enough runs. Phillips slowly found his timing as the Gents change bowlers showed far greater accuracy than the openers. Debutant Anish Varasala (18) batted nicely as he and Phillips steadied the innings. Simon Davies (10) played a breezy cameo before Phillips fell after an important innings of 53.

The final overs of the Wick innings were controlled by Nick Browning who managed both the strike and the majority of the scoring. Browning (28) was supported by Nick Dunmore (13*) as the innings closed on 175-7 from the allotted 35 overs. In the penultimate overs Billy Hulks has been unfortunate to be castled by an in-swinging yorker of which Waqar Younis would have been proud.

Over a lovely tea the discussion turned to the limited bowling and fielding resources of the Wick side. 175 was certainly a defendable total as the Gents traditionally has limited batting skills which their skipper had confirmed at the toss. Early wickets would make the afternoon comfortable for the Wick.

Jack Smith took the first over from the Millenium Wood End. First delivery full and wide – surely the batsman will leave it as a sighter – crunch! A full bloodied drive and the ball is propelled into the hands of the skipper at mid-off. The perfect start for the Wick with a decent batter dismissed. Sadly, that was to be the highlight of the fielding effort. Billy Hulks opened from the King’s Field End and bowled fast and straight. Smith and Hulks kept the Gents batters under pressure and produced a chance when Hulks was driven by the Gents skipper in the air to mid-off – Dunmore spilled the chance (drop 1).

Wick change bowlers Nehls and Mike Collier challenged the batters with their varying pace. Nehls bowled with fire, keeping the ball on a full length. At the other end Collier (snr) produced turn, guile and flight. Nehls achieved a knick from the Gents skipper from a fast delivery which was passed keeper Browning before he could react (drop 2). The same batsman edged behind from the same bowler a few overs later and this time Browning got both hands to the ball before it hit the grass (drop 3). The Gents skipper was leading a charmed life as he was hitting the ball over fielders on a regular basis. That said the 2 wicket partnership was flourishing as the Gents batters ran very well between the wickets which also collecting boundaries. Dunmore replaced Nelhs and Varasala replaced Collier as the Wick skipper searched for the important breakthrough which would probably bring batters of limited ability to the crease. Dunmore was expensive but has the Gents skipper shelled at fine leg (drop 4), whilst Varasala bowled a tidy spell.

As the target came into sight, Nehls ran out the Gents skipper for 89. The number 3 bat finished on 76 as the Gents reached their target 2 wickets down with 14 balls to spare. As the players adjourned to discuss the very enjoyable afternoon over a drink, reflections on the match were straightforward – the old adage states catches win matches. As every cricketer knows, dropped catches do not win matches.