Northwood crush Ricky hopes in amazing comeback
Rickmansworth 199/8 (50) lost to Northwood II 203/5 (45.1)
There have been some comebacks - Tiger Woods, Mohammed Ali and of course Frank Sinatra. But never one that turned a game of Cricket on it's head as much as this one; except perhaps Headingly 1981 and THAT test match. And yet it all started so well for Rickmansworth, as 1st XI games seem to do this season.
Batting first, Maz and Sohail (18) put on 53 for the first wicket and then Taz, looking a bit like David Gower but without the blond hair, and Maz looked serene taking the score to 96 at the halfway stage when inexplicably Maz was adjudged to have edged an innocuous ball to the keeper. The fielder went up for a stumping, but the umpire at the bowlers end gave the decision for caught behind. despite apologies from the Northwood players, Maz had to go and, to his honour, did so without verbal abuse or anger. Just general amusement at the curious way of getting out. Paul and Taz moved the score to 119 before Paul was caught behind and then a further 30 run partnership between Taz and Kamran had Ricky sitting at 149/4 with 14 overs to go, and Taz looking in great nick. Even 5 an over would see Ricky to 220. However, not for the first time this year, the next few batsmen got stuck in a bit of a rut once Taz was out for 51. Partnershipes were the key but none developed as Northwood stuck to their tight lines and it was only a brisk 19 not out from Matt Funge that eventually enabled Ricky to post a score of 199. The general feeling was that on a pitch that didnt offer much for the bowler digging the ball in, it was a decent score, but maybe 25 runs short of a good one.
Ricky's early bowlers though were magnificent, coming out of the traps with vigour and direction. Pau and Funge started with a maiden each and the Amit produced a wonderful inswinger to dismiss Watson. Hussey was then caught superbly by Tahir in the covers and the Ricky tail was up. Unfortunately the previously good lines started to waver and anything leg-side was called a wide, which meant that extras were the highest scorer. The introduction of the skipper, with Blackwell standing up to the wicket was key and so it proved as Phil took 3-2 in his first 15 balls to send Northwood spiralling to what seemed like inevitable defeat. 46/5 after 14 overs and needing 5 an over to reach their target, the odds on England at Headingly of 500/1 seemed like generous odds on this game too.
However, cometh the hour, cometh the men. Gourolla and Hussey Senior dug in and played safe. Though Hussey played and missed a few times outside off, generally they ran well and waited for any ball on the stumps to then push a single. At the same time the extras count continued to mount, with 28 wides eventually given away. Gourolla was harsh on anything pitched up and Phil started to ring the changes. At one point Ricky tried 6 different bowlers in the space of 6 overs, but nothing seemed to work. No chances were given, no missed stumpings, no close run outs and Ricky's generally good ground work started to deteriorate with a couple of boundaries through the fielders and a 5 being some of the more ignominious. The bowlers carried on, but still not even a sniff of a ball hitting pad in front of the stumps. Nothing; Zero; De Nada. With the winning line in sight, even veteran Hussey launched a straight 6, to the amusement of his fellow players, and Gourolla went through the gears to finish the game with 4 overs to spare.
Had Ricky bowled poorly - No. Had Northwood batted well - you bet. A partnership of over 150 to win a game of Cricket is special at any level. And this one was chanceless from beginning to end. Did Ricky deserve to lose - only perhaps for once again letting a good foundation fall away, just like last week. But this Ricky team has spirit and talent and another good result, like the Redbourn one, is surely not far away. This isnt a relegation team, but it will take a few better performances with the bat if any attempt at the upper reaches of the division is to be considered. There is always next week.