Date: 03/08/2019
Opposition: Old Hamptonians CC 5th XI
Venue: Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club
Man of the match: Jack LeFeurve
Prat of the match: Zak Collier

In a sight as common as a Conservative ministerial resignation, the mighty Wick saw all three pitches occupied on Saturday: the 2s on the main square, Dunmore’s army on the Kingsfield and the mighty 5s on Rose Cottage in a local derby against Old Hamptonians. Despite a mixed season results wise for the 5s, your correspondent has never featured in a season where there has been so many 5th XI fixtures and this should put other clubs to shame. On paper, we looked strong, with a lot of talented younger colts on display, and some ‘experienced pros’ who were on hand to offer advice, encourage and generally bring out the best of the talented youngsters.

Captain Ritchie called correctly and chose to bat first. This proved a very good choice, and Ritchie (sadly not dressed as Friar Tuck, which is what Rob was wearing a club day a couple of years ago which was the last time I’d seen him) and Zak Collier strode out to open the batting. We had estimated that we would need 200 to be competitive (this was based purely off the size of the boundaries – short), but we were definitely second best in the opening encounters as Ritchie and Collier had to contend with a very good, accurate spell of bowling from the Searle brothers. Loose deliveries were few and far between in the opening spell, and captain Ritchie, despite looking solid in defensive, was undone by one that did not bounce and had to walk off. Duncan Higgins came in at three, and put forward a very credible case for being the best cricketer in the Higgins family, as he showed fantastic timing and played some lovely shots around the ground. Collier struggled early on, and was dropped on 0 and 3, but occupied his end and dug in. Old Hamptonians turned to spin fairly early, and whilst this brought an increase in the run rate, it also coincided with the demise of D.Higgins who was stumped charging the spinner, and Steve Hursell, who I think missed a straight one. This brought Jivraj Singh to the crease, a very talented U13, who showed his full range of shots as him and Zak batting us through to drinks. Zak had been dropped twice again in this period, I think Old Hamptonians were feeling very generous. 79-3 at drinks, Collier and J.Singh took it to the bowlers after drinks, with Collier showing new found timing and really punishing anything in his scoring zone as he played some gorgeous shots both sides of the wicket. Jivraj showed his talent and potential (Future of the Wick (FOTW)), but was caught for 17 trying to accelerate towards 200. This brought his dad, Mandeep Singh, to the crease, and he combined well with Zak to pile on the runs and push the score up to 200, taking advantage of some lethargic fielding. Zak continued to bat well, accelerating from 17 at drinks to 50 to bring up his maiden adult 50 for the Wick, and a fine one it was too. As Collier flagged, he hit out, finishing on a brilliant 64 and putting us well in the driving seat. Jack Le Feuvre came in at 7 and added 13 at a strike rate of 216.7, and ensured we finished 200-7 from our 35 overs, despite a couple of late wickets. Mandeep finished with a classy 33*.

Tea: Once again, King Ken delivered the goods. Genuinely can’t think of a club which does better teas. 10/10.

Refuelled and inspired by Ken’s culinary masterclass, the 5s took to the field, buoyed by carbohydrates, sugar and the knowledge we had a very talented young bowling line up. FOTW Victor Griffiths (16) and Imogen Higgins (15) opened the attack. We couldn’t have had a better start, with Victor getting a wicket first ball, as their opening bat tried to hit him for six onto the Kingsfield, only to sky it to keeper Le Feuvre. 0-1 after 0.1, we were rocking. However, Old Hamptonians rocketed to 60-1 off 8 as they adopted a West Indian approach to their run chase: try and smash the leather off everything. However, despite this, the control and confidence shown by these two youngsters was very impressive to keep running in and bowling very testing line and lengths to two aggressive batsmen, with both bowlers causing serious problems for the left handed opener. However, 60-1 after 8 meant something had to be done. Captain Ritchie introduced Matt Honeybone to the attack, and Matt produced a piece of magic first ball. Matt charged in off the long run and bowled an off break, which pitched outside leg and turned back round the batsmen’s legs to hit the top of off. It was glorious, the true ball of the century. Matt took a second wicket in his first over, courtesy off a fantastic catch by his son Olly at fine leg, and the momentum had swung. Imogen Higgins then showed craft beyond her young years to completely outthink their set No.3, by going round the wicket and bowling a slower ball which the No.3 duly chipped to Victor at fine leg. Imogen was then replaced by Olly Honeybone, who for an U13 (FOTW) bowled with incredibly control to a 7-2 offside field and strangled the batsmen for runs. With the Honeybone’s operating in tandem, wickets fell regularly as Matt claimed two more, finishing with 4-23 off 5, and Olly’s first spelling gaining two wickets, one bowled and one caught behind for just six runs. OHA’s were 88-9 at drinks, after Jivraj Singh showed his all round talented with a quick spell up the hill to dismiss their number 8, but the last pair added 30 for the final wicket, before Olly Honeybone came back on to take the final wicket and finish with 3-11. The ground fielding and catching was very good by all 11 members of the side, with everyone working hard in the field to starve OHAs of runs and support the outstanding effort by our predominantly young pace quintet. OHAs were all out for 118 inside 21 overs.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable day out, with the game played in a good spirit by both sides and it was great to see the scorebook dominated by the efforts of the youths. I hope that these very fine young players get the chance to show their talent up in the higher teams as the months and years progress.  Mentions should go to Captain Ritchie for ensuring everyone had a chance to have a significant contribution in the game and for making it very enjoyable for all, and also to Old Hamptonians: for a side who were all aged 17-19, they played the game in good spirits and gave it their all, as well as giving Zak Collier some very funny chat when they found out he was on 49. It was also pleasing to see a 5th XI comprised entirely of teenagers given the decline in participation rates at that age group, as it is somewhat of a novelty at the lower end of club cricket, and a sight that regretfully is not as common as it should be.