Green shoots aplenty in Wick Fifths’ first outing this season

Date: 22/06/2019
Opposition: Ashford CC
Venue: HQ - Rose Cottage
Man of the match: Ted Goodwin
Prat of the match: No worthy candidates

Rose Cottage hosted an entertaining encounter on Saturday as Hampton Wick’s Fifth XI slipped to a three-wicket defeat in their first match of the season. While Mike Hamblin’s side would eventually lose out to an Ashford Fifth XI with six matches under their collective belts this season, the 35-over game produced a number of very encouraging signs for The Wick.

The Wick batted first, which was welcome, with the short boundaries of the Rose Cottage field reminiscent (if you squint) of famously bat-friendly Test venues such as The Wanderers in Johannesburg and the old SSC in Colombo.

There was even a South African opening batsman to play the Herschelle Gibbs role, with Ted Goodwin facing the new ball alongside batting partner Rob Ritchie. Goodwin is typically a quick bowler for the top teams at The Wick but turned out for the Fives to join his daughter, Paige, and he looked assured with the bat from the start of the innings.

Ritchie, too, was watchful in the opening overs and displayed a compact technique against some decent opening bowlers. With seven overs bowled, however, the opening stand was broken with Ritchie (9) trapped LBW to a Rob Nicholls ball that jagged back.

The dismissal brought Paige Goodwin to the crease to join her dad, but the family reunion was short-lived as Ashford’s Suhaib Choudray summoned a perfect Yorker to dismiss her first-ball. Remarkably, the young seamer did it again the next delivery to remove Imogen Higgins and give himself a chance at a hat-trick.

With the Fives having lost three wickets in three balls (spanning two overs), Tom Dunmore denied Choudray a hat-trick with a stern forward defensive. The left-handed allrounder then looked to dig in and rebuild alongside Goodwin Senior. With Goodwin moving through the gears at the other end, the partnership was looking promising until Ashford made a change of bowling. Dunmore (4) offered a caught-and-bowled chance that was accepted by veteran spinner Keith Manning, bringing Fives skipper Mike Hamblin to the crease.

Hamblin (17) batted responsibly, looking particularly strong off his pads to the seamers and offering a solid partner to the increasingly dominant Goodwin. The partnership had contributed over 50 runs by the time Manning struck again, bowling Hamblin.

All the while, Goodwin accumulated runs at an impressive pace. Particularly impressive were the two straight sixes he smote with coruscating power onto the neighbouring cycling path, endangering bowlers’ egos as well as the occasional dog walker. It was wonderfully clean hitting that helped his side to a competitive total.

Goodwin was joined by club debutant Roy Singh, who played some classy attacking shots in a promising cameo of 14. Unfortunately, the partnership was ended when Goodwin (89) holed out to the skiddy quick bowling of Azam Butt, who would also remove Singh.

Your correspondent was in at eight and got off the mark with an uncharacteristically fluent drive through the covers. In a slightly surprising tactic for a Fifth XI game, he then received a round-the-wicket flurry of short balls, including a helmet-crunching bouncer he managed to duck under.

At the other end, Duncan Higgins (9 not out) played straight to the quicks and got stuck into the spinners, finding the leg-side boundary to his liking. Perhaps inspired by Higgins’ attacking intent, your correspondent lined up a Buttler-esque slog sweep and was promptly LBW for 8. More brains in a pork pie.

The ten-person Wick side’s innings concluded with Keith Nicholls (0) run out by a miraculous direct hit, although grounding his bat might have been enough to save him…

The mid-innings break brought another fine tea from Ken, who performed the Herculean feat of providing delicious hot and cold food to six teams of cricketers, more or less simultaneously. Bravo.

The wise men and women of the Fifths agreed our first-innings 183 was a defendable total, providing we get an early breakthrough.

Dunmore and Singh were charged with finding this breakthrough, and both new ball bowlers settled into a nice rhythm quickly. The left-armer Dunmore struck first, with Ritchie hanging on to a chance at square leg.

Singh was particularly impressive on his return to cricketing action after a three-year break, generating good carry and subtle away swing from a deceptively relaxed run-up, and he got his reward when he clean bowled Ashford’s other opening bat.

A period of rebuilding allowed Ashford to move to 66 for 2, until Dunmore produced a direct hit from third man to run out their number three. It was an excellent piece of skill, and reflected the Fives’ consistently aggressive work in the field.

Paige Goodwin was desperately unlucky not to take a wicket in her first spell, as she proved that quality seam bowling is a family trait. She bowled a consistent length, with a fairly straight line that always poses batsmen questions, and was very economical.

At the other end, Duncan Higgins’ flight and guile accounted for Satyam Sethi (24), before your correspondent found bounce, turn and a willing catcher in Keith Nicholls to account for Chaminth Rathnayanka (13) at number five.

However, the Choudray and Butt duo returned to haunt the Wick’s Fives with the bat, after their earlier success with the ball, as they knuckled down and led Ashford’s chase.

Imogen Higgins was unfortunate not to join her father in the wickets column, as she bowled a lively medium pace with good accuracy. Goodwin Senior, meanwhile, was kind enough to not emulate Ashford’s round-the-wicket pace barrage and sent down some leg spin.

A deserved wicket for the returning Goodwin Junior and another for the redoubtable Nicholls gave the Wick a sniff at 178/7, only for Butt (42*) to shepherd the Ashford tail home.

Ashford ran out deserving winners, but Hamblin’s Fifth XI charges performed admirably on their first outing of the season.

Along with Goodwin Senior’s sparkling innings, there was a fine debut from Singh and a balanced contribution from the bowlers, not to mention Dunmore’s excellence in the field. In all, an enjoyable and encouraging Saturday afternoon’s play.