Morjaria Stars on Final Saturday of 2020

Date: 26/09/2020
Opposition: Old Rutlishians 5s
Venue: Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club
Man of the match: Alex Morjaria
Prat of the match: The cold northerly wind

The Wick 196/6 (won toss and chose to bat), Old Rutlishians – 176. Wick won by 20 runs.

MOTM: Alex Morjaria

DOTD: The cold northerly wind

Wiser Wick cricketers had watched the weather forecast all week, with northerly winds on the horizon for the weekend. The forecasters proved accurate and the final weekend of the 2020 season featured as many jumpers as Wick cricketers could find or purchase. The weekend also featured a Wick Saturday side which was picked on the basis of the playing conditions of the Surrey Trust League (STL); 5 U18s, 3 U21s and 3 older players. The STL is a successful competition which bridges the gap between youth cricket and competitive adult cricket.  The plan is to enter a Wick side into the 2021 STL competition and with the opposition Old Rutlishians bringing a side including many STL players, the opportunity to emulate the STL format was taken. The side selected was Alex Morjaria (U17), Connor Hewitt and Tom Dunmore (U16), Jviraj Singh (U14), Euan Cole (U15), James Flint (U18), Zak Collier and Nabeel Shahpurwala (U19), supported by older players Sashi Asokan, Mark Steans and Nick Dunmore. A late withdrawal by Cole due to illness resulted in Mandeep Singh being called into the side, but the STL philosophy was maintained.

Upon winning the toss skipper Dunmore chose to bat in the 40 over contest. Openers Morjaria and Asokan were respectful of excellent opening bowling by the Ruts pair. Asokan (5) fell caught at slip which brought Collier to the crease. Collier (2) was dismissed by the first change bowler who came in off a short run and appeared to deliver the ball before Collier was ready. With the score 24-2 and 12 overs completed a period of re-building and steady acceleration was required as Hewitt strode to the wicket at number 4.  By this point Morjaria was finding his timing and pushing balls into gaps. Hewitt batted with his usual confidence and struck anything lose to the fence. The pair ran hard and tried to put the fielders under pressure. Having seen off the Ruts opening bowler (7 overs for 13 runs) the young Wick batters were able to steadily increase the run rate. At the half way point in the innings the score was 68-2 and 30 runs had been scored from the previous 5 overs. Overs 21-30 saw the pair accumulate 71 runs as both batsman found the boundary with increasing regularity.

Hewitt raised his 50 in the 30th over and then fell 5 runs later to a rather rash charge down the wicket. Hewitt has become a decent bat during the 2020 season and appears to have all of the shots. The next challenge is to turn a half century into a bigger contribution. The Wick pair has put on a partnership of 124 in 18 overs and set the platform for an excellent total.

Shahpurwala (10) joined an increasingly dominant Morjaria in a stand of 42. Morjaria scored 15 from one over and also hit a rare 6, much to the joy of his team mates. As the final over began, Morjaria was on 94 and accompanied by Jivraj Singh (8). Morjaria had been cheered by his brother and father as he went passed the family top core (84* by Ollie 3 weeks prior) but had also been dropped twice in the previous over. Sadly, Morjaria was unable to reach the century that his excellent innings deserved as Ruts skipper, 71 year old Ian Lambert, dislodged the off bail. Flint (1*) and Steans (2*) took the Wick total to 196.

After a quick tea, the Wick side took the field wearing the layers that would be necessary for a fielding stint in the cold wind. Tom Dunmore and Jivraj Singh opened the attack against Ruts batters with contrasting styles. After an early drop in the gully, Singh removed one opener caught by Morjaria at mid-off. Dunmore challenged the other opener and saw two catches dropped; a tricky chance at slip and a dolly at mid-on. Would the Wick rue the missed opportunities? The Ruts number 3 looked like a decent player, but one who needed to get his eye in. As the skipper changed the bowling after 11 overs, Ruts had 23 runs on the board and need to start to accelerate. With Collier replacing Singh, Dunmore continued his accurate spell which allowed few opportunities to score. Dunmore bowled 8 overs unchanged for the first time and a reward of 0-18 was harsh with respect to wickets but excellent in terms of economy rate.

Collier dismissed the opener with one of several deliveries which challenged the stumps. The Ruts 4 spent some time settling in and then started to unfurl good looking straight drives. With Mandeep Singh replacing Dunmore the Ruts total ticked along to 61 after 20 overs. The Wick were ahead, but not by much and the Ruts 3 was still at the crease and starting to look more comfortable. After drinks the Ruts batters visibly started to play more shorts, with Singh being attacked in particular. Shahpurwala replaced Collier and immediately removed the Ruts 4, caught by Morjaria. The incoming bat was a tall 15 year old who had bowled 8 very good overs of off-spin. Without taking a look at the bowling the Ruts 5 drove Shahpurwala for an off side boundary. The next 7 overs saw the Wick bowlers under pressure as the Ruts pair scored 53 runs, with both batsman showing attacking intent. The Ruts 5 hit a big straight 6 from Shahpurwala before skying a catch to Hewitt for a well-made 37. Ruts needed 80 from the final 11 overs and with the number 3 looking increasingly confident, the Wick were still feeling the pressure.

Asokan had been called into the attack by skipper Dunmore and was able to slow the run-rate. At the other end Jivraj Singh returned for a second spell, having conceded 8 runs from his opening 5 overs. The Ruts keeper joined the number 3 after a run out by Morjaria and it was obvious to all that this was the partnership that needed to be broken; two experienced Ruts batsman who could accumulate the 8 an over required for victory. Asokan broke the partnership with a direct hit run out of the keeper from cover. In the next over the Ruts 3 (74) fell to Asokan as he skied a catch to Mandeep Singh at wide long-off, where the Wick man took an excellent running catch. The game was finished as a contest; the last 3 wickets fell in quick succession to run outs by Asoken, Mandeep Singh and Collier. Victory by 20 runs had been hard-fought in the field and it was not until the 36th over that the Wick had felt secure.

Reflecting on the contest, it was clear that the younger Wick players had all benefitted from this type of competitive 40 over fixture –

  • Playing with the STL philosophy had offered opportunities to learn more about the game
  • Bowling under pressure during the Ruts run chase, where the Wick were not in control until the 36th over
  • Fielding alongside Asokan whose 2 run outs had audibly impressed his younger team mates

It had been Alex Morjaria’s day; his excellent innings of 94 alongside 2 catches and a run out. What a way for one of the Wick’s young players to finish the 2020 season.

Winter well everyone