Ricky 1st eleven steam roller Welwyn to march to their ninth league win in a row
By Brett Harvey
Welwyn Garden City III 151-10 (48.5) v Rickmansworth 1st XI 155-5 (38.5)
Match Report by Sohail Bashir
The heatwave of this ever so untypical British summer had come to an abrupt end with a sharpish, moderately winded and slightly overcast day for cricket at Park Road, where a supremely talented and highly confident, Ricky 1st eleven side, took on their near rivals, Welwyn 3rds.
The Ricky boys were short of two their regular stars, the left hand spin guru, Zaf Shah, and the inspirational season long captain, the General, aka captain Marvel, aka Maz Shah. But such is the depth of this Ricky squad this year, that the hugely talented, vice skipper, the Magic Man (Maj Khan) was given the role of leading the boys out against Welwyn.
The Welwyn boys won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat first, on what appeared to be a green and spiced up Ricky wicket, with over cast slightly windy conditions.
Maj and Taz rounded the boys up and gave inspirational words of wisdom and asked their boys to go out and smash the opposition with hard and aggressive cricket. True to form, Maj and the supremely talented, Toqeer Hussain
, aka Michael Holding, took hold of the red cherry and bowled with real pace and firepower, and movement in the air and off the seam. The ball was fizzing and boomeranging past the Welwyn openers who struggled to deal with the pace and movement of the Ricky opening attack. Plenty of dots in the book and little scoring shots, created much pressure which eventually led to Welwyn’s top order being systemically dismantled by the Ricky bowling attack of Toqeer, Usman, the young and talented duo of Raunak and Neel, as well as Cookie, with Welwyn falling from 10/1 to 100/6, with the 6th wicket coming to a Jonty Rhodes style one handed pick up and run out by the debutant, Neel, reducing Welwyn to 100/6 wickets by the 29th over.
The camels back had now truly been broken by Ricky’s disciplined bowling, which simply was too good and too fast for an average and mediocre Welwyn side. Welwyn’s miserable innings eventually came to an end with Ricky bowling them all out for a very average 151 runs in 48 overs.
The bowlers had completed their given task and it was now the batsmen’s turn. Having been served an untypical, varied and plentiful cricket tea, Taz and the Gazelle, Sohail Bashir
(aka Hailey), set about their task of knocking off the Welwyn total. Things started well and both openers looked comfortable at the crease, but very soon (in the 3rd over) Sohail got a freak injury (pulled Calf) taking a Usain Bolt style quick single from a call from Taz. Sohail was forced to retire hurt.
In came, the inform Shami, who looked relaxed and comfortable, albeit he did not last long. Welwyn’s bowlers were bowling tight lines and using the facilities of the wicket. Taz was stumped for an unusual only 13, Shami was caught behind for 5 and Tahir was out for a duck (sorry T!), leaving Ricky’s top 5 batsmen in the Pavilion with the score being only 98. In years gone by, the Ricky 1st eleven collapses were as old as the Lord Mayor’s show, but not this year. Things are different, and didn’t they just prove to be so. Up stepped the former Ricky legend of yester year, Ibby Hanif, aka Abe Devilliers who had the common sense and wisdom to return to his cricket home at Ricky. Whilst all season he had shown glimpses of his former best, he had not quite returned to true form until, this cricket critical match situation. Ibby led the fight supremely against Welwyn’s disciplined attack, showing patience, grit and mental strength. Whilst he rode his luck on a couple of occasions, he nevertheless played some real classy and elegant Ibby style shots and carted the ball all over the Ricky ground. He was ably supported by young Toqeer who hit a quick fire 20 before giving his wicket away in an uncharacteristic style. Ibby however, persevered and with brilliant and well tempered support from Raunak (13 not out ) they took the match home, with Ibby finishing on a match winning 1st half century (53 not out ) for Ricky after his return.
Whilst Ricky did not really look in any serious trouble at any stage, the early top order wobble did cause some consternation, especially for the season long Captain, Maz Shah who was constantly on Whatts App seeking match updates in the Punjab. The on field Captain (the Majic Man), displayed a real aura calmness and tactical astuteness with his bowling and field placements, which in the end, proved to be too much for an average Welwyn side.
The Ricky boys were jubilant as ever this season having won their ninth game in a row and holding a real belief that may be just, may be the “title is coming home”