Houghton's Boys Dominate

Date: 29/08/2020
Opposition: Hook & Southborough 2nd XI
Venue: Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club King's Field
Man of the match: Pick any of the team
Prat of the match: Gavin WIlliamson

Once again, the great British summer tried to ruin another league Saturday. Whilst England have shown that they are the best in the business at International cricket, the season for all regular club cricketers has been heavily disrupted by a global health pandemic, continual governmental fiascos and latterly, the Met Office’s inability to accurately predict a weather forecast. Thankfully, it is just about warm enough for me to write this report alfresco as I sit in my garden, reflecting upon the antics of Saturday. I could tell you in about two sentences that we absolutely thumped Hook and Southborough by 140 runs in a very one sided contest, but then dear reader, I would not be able to educate you about the trials and tribulations, the twists and turns, and the outright hilarity of Abid Ikram’s assessments of the opposition. So I will begin where all good stories begin, at the very start.

On the back of Thursday’s draw against Valley End, Houghton was banished back over the wall to resume his captaincy duties upon the Kingsfield, exiled back to a minefield of a track and a shed whose interior resembles that of Ollie Morjaria’s university accommodation. The heavy rain that was much needed by the outfield had turned the strip into an absolute pudding of a pitch, with early indications suggesting that it would break up and batting would become difficult later on. An interesting decision faced W.B. Houghton as he mulled over a decision whilst consuming the first instalment of his Primal diet (tuna this week, in a change from the beef in the last couple of matches). Hook and Southborough’s PlayCricket history suggested that they were neither the strongest batting, nor bowling side, and the Wick side was balanced in both departments, leaving no obvious choice. Houghton called correctly and elected to bat, and strapped on his mums and dads rapidly, clearly itching to go and continue his Jos Buttler impersonations from the last two games that I’ve played with Ben. Partnering him was Depeche Mode Morjaria, the joint superior of Morjaria’s, a man renowned for his lightning speed between the wickets and simultaneous ability to run partners out. Clearly under instructions not to do the later this week, Morjaria and Houghton were watchful against accurate opening bowlers from Hook, clearly employing a Policy of Truth (oh yes this is carrying on) as they assessed the pace of the wicket (absolutely lacking in any). Houghton changed his impressions for this week, choosing instead to offer his Dom Sibley impression for all those watching, and we had only scored 16 runs off the first 10 overs. Panic not. After playing themselves in, Houghton and Morjaria were beginning to up the ante when a moment of controversy happened. Houghton swept a ball into the leg side and set off for a run after being Called through by Usain Bolt at the other end. Houghton appeared to have made his ground as the bails were removed, but Z.Collier Esq disagreed and triggered him - highly controversial. Dipesh joined Ben shortly after back in the shed - I must confess I can’t remember how he got out as I went to talk to Mohit Bad who was playing for the 5s but play cricket suggested he was bowled - which saw the arrival of Jivraj Singh and Abid Ikram at the crease, and both displayed some fine stroke play on either side of the wicket to drive up the run rate. Ikram was looking in particularly good touch when he was caught by a bloke at short fine leg who employed the unconventional tactic of catching the ball with his thighs, and simultaneously dismissed and enraged Ikram. This fortuitous dismissal did not scupper the spirits of Houghton’s boys at P.Milles, Zak and Mercurial Mandeep all played fine innings to send our score up to 192-7, a very very defendable score when you have to bat second on a sticky toffee pudding of a pitch.

After another fine alfresco tea prepared by Emma and her band of warriors, Houghton informed us that Hook had 3/4 batsmen and not a lot after that, and tossed the new ball to a University of Manchester alumni combination in Jack Le Feuvre (8-4-8-3) and Tom McMahon (8-4-15-2). This could be classed as very rogue to the uneducated reader or those who saw Le Feuvre bowl against Valley End, but Houghton, clearly in awe of two products from the finest University that the world has to offer, made an inspired choice. Le Feuvre was practically raised on the Kingsfield and lists it as his favourite cricketing venue on Earth, whilst McMahon turns the ball further than Graeme Swann used to. With both men’s heritage stemming from the ilk of the White Rose of Yorkshire, this was only going one way. Le Feuvre steamed in down the hill, and took 2 in 2 in his first over, narrowly missing out on a hat trick, whilst McMahon got some sharp turn and we reduced Hook to 8-4. This became 18-6 after Le Feuvre took a third and Mike Collier claimed a first victim, in addition to a superb run out from Jivraj. When you have an opposition 18-6 at 4:33pm, it is hard to resist the siren call of the Moretti being poured in anticipation of a Wick wash in the clubhouse. Every man could practically smell the Moretti, and speculation turned to what time we would be finished. Sadly, Hook and Southboorugh then decided to play for the draw, despite the draw going extinct in 4th Xi cricket in 2017, and we went 22 overs without a wicket, despite the best efforts Jivraj and Mandeep Singh, and Zak Collier. We almost got bored into submission by the tactics adopted by Hook, but we were utterly dominant and I actually don’t know how we didn’t bowl them out. Mike and Tom both took further wickets in the dying overs, and Hook finished 53-8, to give the wick a 139 run win.

Analysis of play cricket after the game. The 4s bowled 18 maiden overs and had a combined economy rate of1.33, which in itself tells the story of how utterly dominant we were. Everyone contributed to what was a very satisfying win, but would have been even more satisfying if we had bowled them out. In the final league stanza of 2020, we venture to Reigate Priory on Saturday, who sit top of the league. Another win for the boys, and the Wick could find themselves in the promised land of the Top 2