Dunstable felled by freak Hail storm
By Paul Blackwell
Dunstable 316/3 v Rickmansworth 317/8
It was a warm day and an absolute belter of a wicket that greeted Rickmansworth 2nd XI, as they looked to build on last weeks heroic last-gasp win at Radlett. Ricky had 3 changes with Sohail Bashir, Waqas and Adeel Khan all coming into the team. The batting was strengthened but the bowling was lacking a strike bowler. The hope was that this wouldn't prove too challenging.
Waheed and Raz opened the bowling and kept the runs in check from the start. Paul took a full length diving catch at mid-wicket to dismiss Rumball and Raz held onto a skier to dimiss the number 3. By the time Gilbert was bwoled by Bobby for 21, Dunstable were 78/3 after 20 overs and Ricky were hoping to keep the score to 180-200. However, the Dunstable captain decided to attack of what was a fantastic batting track and what followed was the most extraordinary individual performance by an opposition player in 20 years. Phil Lewis, a Dunstable veteran and all-round decent chap, hit 27 fours and 7 sixes as he ploughed into every ball with the same flow of the bat. He went past 50, then 100, then 150 and he eventually finished not out on 201. That the Dunstable score was 'only' 316 was perhaps due to the luck that Ricky had in keeping in Ian Horton at the other end, as his 73 in 50 overs, although anchoring the innings, was certainly not scored at the same rate as Lewis. Also worthy of note is that in 300 balls, Ricky didnt bowl one no-ball and Rishi didnt concede one bye, or leg bye. All but 5 runs came off the bat.
Although Lewis was dropped on 23 - a hard chance to the keeper standing up to Azhar - nothing should be taken away from what was an amazing performance by one man. All the bowlers took some tap, except Azhar with 46 off his 10 overs, and it was an exhausted Ricky 11 that trudged off to tea. Exhausted yes, but strangely enough not beaten. The general feeling was that in 300 balls anything could happen. It should be noted at this point that no Rickmansworth team have ever, in one day cricket, chased a total of such magnitude. As Captain Kirk would say, we were about to boldly go where no man has gone before!
Despite Rishi and Paul enjoying 2 opening partnerships above 70 in the last 2 weeks, Raz put Paul and Sohail in to open the batting. 317 was the target. The first over went for 11 by Paul, and the chase was begun. Paul lived a little more dangerously, whilst Sohail just kept hitting the bad ball and by drinks (17 overs) Ricky were 86/0. Indeed after Paul had hit a 6 and was then bowled 2 balls later, the first wicket fell with the score on 117 after 21 overs and the foundation had been laid. Waqas increased the scoring rate as only he can, crashing 35 off 24 balls and although he was disappointed to be out, Ricky were now half-way to the target and 24 overs to go. It was now that Sohail put his foot down and accelerated. His 50 had come up in the over after Paul, and he went serenely through the gears to reach his maiden 100 for the club in the 32nd over. Raz and Bobby came and went quickly and when Azhar was out stumped and then Sohail lbw for a magnificent 123, we still had batsmen ready to go. But horror-of-horrors, Kamran went for 3 and then Waheed a duck. Ricky still needed 38 to win and only 32 balls were left and just 2 wickets.
Adeel and Rishi ran hard and batted cleverly, in particular one sumptuous late cut by Rishi for 4. Adeel meanwhile kept clubbing the ball down the ground and with 4 overs to go, Ricky needed 29 at 7 an over. A 6 by Adeel helped to keep Ricky on track, 18 needed off 2 overs became 9 needed off the last over. But Dunstable had bowled all their quicks trying to take wickets and it was spinner Ian Horton to bowl it. 9 off the over it was.
And then it was calamity time for Dunstable, as Horton hit his own stumps in his follow through, a ball which Adeel laced for 2. Now it was 6 needed off 6. And the over went 184.108.40.206.1 (such sensible batting) and Ricky had won the game with one ball to spare. Needless to say the pitch invasion was a joy to behold.
With 633 runs on display, a Double-Century, a Century and two half-centuries, this was indeed a batting paradise. But you still have to score them. And Rickmansworth did. Every player played their part. And although Sohails' 123 has only been beaten by 8 other players in the last 40 years, it was perhaps the calm-headed Adeel who steered the team to victory, who might be considered the match-winner. Though knowing this team, if he had not of done it, then someone else would have.
Next week it's Southgate Adelaide, another batsmen's delight, as Ricky look to post 3 wins in a row for the first time this year. Who will be the hero next week!