Ricky records fall to ease relegation fears RCC 300/6 Bov 303/3
Waqas stars with the bat in high-scoring battle
For the 3rd year running Ricky entered the last game of the season knowing that a bad defeat would once again relegate the team. After a season of wonderful highs (Redbourn x 2, Welwyn Garden City, Old Albanians) and some great gritty performances (against Bovingdon at home in particular) it was hoped Ricky had done enough to survive, but with 8 points required it was still a steep hill to climb.
Key players such as Sohail, Taz, Tahir and Zaf were all missing (Zaf on the morning of the game) but the replacements were willing and able and all that mattered was getting a win, or a "good" defeat. That Ricky were even in the position of knowing a defeat was enough was down to the stirring efforts 9 weeks before of Billy and Zaf as they defended manfully against everything Bovingdon could throw at them, thus stopping Bovingon gaining 13 more points and putting Ricky in the bottom 2. How key would this prove?
And so to the game. A green deck; some interesting umpiring agreements (no wides unless they were hitting 2nd slip); and an outfield that looked possibly a little long. Were Bovingdon hoping for a low-scoring game which would play into their favour? Well how wrong could one be...Phil lost the toss and Ricky were inserted. To stand a chance, Bovingdon had to bowl out Ricky for less than 200. And tragedy struck in the 2nd over as Maz was adjudged, seemingly rather harshly, to have nicked the ball to the keeper. That bat and pad were in connection was not in doubt, but the umpire decided that there was also the faintest of edges and Maz had to leave the field reluctantly. Ricky had relied on Maz for much of the season and this was a bitter blow. With the ball swinging and seaming on a good length, Paul Blackwell and Waqas dug in for the next 10 overs and reached 21/1 after 10. The target was now around 170. But it transpired the remaining Bovingdon bowlers were not as good as their openers. And Paul and Waqas started to enjoy a good degree of freedom and less ball movement. The 20th over saw Ricky reach 98/1 and by drinks the score was a very creditable 121/1. The first batting point had been gained. Seven more needed. And then it really kicked off. Waqas with lusty blows to various parts of the ground; Paul hitting singles and the odd boundary; and the Bovingdon fielders (or at least 2 of them) chuntering away about how rubbish both batsmen were. Paul followed Waqas in reaching 50 and in the 30th over was acrobatically caught by the keeper for 57. The two had put on a partnership of 170, which was easily the highest in the 1st team for over 20 years. Indeed the highest EVER for the club, 211 between Jerreard and Clarke in July 1911 wasn't too far away, but it wasn't to be. Within a few balls, Waqas brought up his century with a six. His first for the club. But he wasn't done yet!
Waheed and Raz both kept up the momentum but perished trying to up the scoring rate yet further and it was around this time that the 200 was reached that signalled safety for the Ricky team. However, now all eyes were on Waqas. The successive boundaries to mid-off, each further than the last, quickly accelerated him past Chris Morris (133) & Khamber Hussein (135). Maz wiped a 'fly from his eye' as he went past his 137 and then only three records remained. Micky Horwoods 1st team 157; Matt Atkins 176 for the 3rd/4th team and V Scully's 201 against Berkhamstead before the 1st World War. Horwoods record was surrendered and then, in going for yet more runs Waqas was caught behind for a magnificent 165. Atkins and Scully could both breath a sigh of relief. But it was still a record 1st XI score in the Saracens Herts league for Waqas and the best in Division Six by all comers.
There was still time for a cameo by Majid who crunched another telling contribution as 101 came from the last 10 overs and over 20 in the last over itself. Astonishing cricket all-round and the wonderful Bovingdon tea was gratefully received by all the recipients.
Ricky attacked for the first 15 overs of the Bovingdon reply and through the key wicket of the best bat was taken by some smart fielding off his own bowling by Phil, the batsmen were allowed to garner runs without really being troubled by the bowling. Phil rung the changes but to no avail and a tough chance went down as well, meaning that Bovingdon reached drinks needing 7 and over off the last 25. Brett finally found some luck, enticing one Bovy batsman to play on and then bowling the other opening bat next ball. 170/3. But that was ll the luck Ricky had as a tiring attack, even more tired fielders and fading light made it hard for Ricky to slow the runs down. And in truth the Bovingdon batsmen played out of their skins and rode their luck. Phil took a good catch on the boundary off a no ball and then took another skyer, only to take a step back over the boundary line. The Bovingdon batsmen were keen to leave the field due to light, encouraged by the umpires, but the Ricky team wanted to stay out there and finish the game.
And so soon the bitter-sweet moment arrived as the Bovingdon batsmen hit a 4 to win the game and be cheered off, only to learn that Rickmansworth's 13 points had relegated them. In putting Ricky into bat, Bovingdon had sealed their own fate. Had they batted first they may have survived relegation. But by asking Blackwell and Waqas to bat they had chosen relegation.
And so the season ends with a thrilling game and some outstanding performances. Ricky have proved this season that we can mix it with anyone. We have not been beaten twice by any team showing that we were decent halfway team. Indeed the team finishing 3rd lost the same number of game (7) as Ricky. Now if we can add a couple more players to add depth to the squad then 2018 could be the year of redemption, and a time to look up and not down. One things for sure, if the last game of the season is anything to go by, then it will be a fun ride that we all want to be part of.