Ricky 2nd go top despite losing last over thriller
By Paul Blackwell
Ricky 246/9 v St Margaretsbury 247/7
So long as one can look past the childish abuse from the sidelines and the rather curious demeanor of some of the players, St Margaretsbury is a lovely place to play Cricket. A decent track and a well-maintained outfield. Lovely surroundings. And so it was on Saturday as Ricky arrived for a clash with a team who just pipped Ricky to 3rd place in the League last year.
Batting first, Sohail and Paul got off to a steady, uncharacteristically so, start, putting on 30 before Paul was dismissed caught behind. Bobby and Kasser both then left the party early, all in single digits, and at 69/3 after 18 overs, Ricky were looking likely to post 180 at a push. But then Ali Asghar played a wonderful balancing role, firstly putting on 55 with Sohail in 10 overs, before Hailey was dismissed for a majestic 71. The skipper was back on form. Then he and Harvey Blackwell put on 68 for the 5th wicket, Harvey contributing a valuable 23 whilst Asghar smashed hard at the other end. Harvey fell trying to up the pace even more going for an expansive drive, but by then Ricky were back on track at 192/5.
Waqqas, Waheed and Prasanth all fell in the chase for quick runs - Ricky is lucky to have a long middle order - and eventually Asghar, after hitting two successive boundaries, was run out off the next ball looking to retain the strike. The 'send off' from the bowler was quite enjoyable - probably the first time a bowler has take the acclaim for a run out. Ricky finished on 246/9. Which was probably a par score on that deck. But only achieved thanks to the 3 earlier batsmen. If anyone deserved a 100 it was Ali Asghar.
Tea was consumed (although questions were raised as to who ate what!) and then Ricky started bowling. Harvey couldnt find a length despite bowling the opening bat off a no-ball (lessons to be learned!) and was taken off, but Ashiq Shah was right on the money and bowled menacingly throughout. Bobby also got good swing to dismiss numbers 2 and 3, but the outstanding Stuart Hitch was in imperious form. If the 2 inside edges he got in one over off Bobby had crashed into the stumps then it would have been curtains for the run chase, but his luck held throughout. Faizen and Waqqas bowled well in tandem, but Hitch kept whacking the odd ball for 4 to keep up with the run rate.
Sohail kept switching the bowling around, to no avail. Bobby came back but couldnt dislodge Hitch and he eventually reached a fabulous 100. It's not often one would feel good about an oppo ton, but on this occasion it was well deserved and he was warmly applauded by the Ricky players. Harvey came back and after conceeding a 6 promptly bowled out Hitch for 108. The game was afoot with St M's needing 30 to in off 6 overs. His partner Steven Ansell was then caught by Paul behind the stumps, but by then Ricky were on their knees. Some dropped catches and injuries to players, plus the constant moaning by members of the opposition was all rather tiring.
It all came down to the last 3 overs, Prasanth getting a wicket, but 6 off the last over became 2 off 5 balls as the batsman slogged a shot through a vacant mid on. And 3 balls later it was all over.
And then time for reflection. Was it the 22 wides and 7 no balls (that's the equivalent of 5 more overs, not least the 29 runs); was it the dropped catches in the field; was it the runs some of the top batsmen failed to get; was it the 4 byes that went through the wicket-keeper; was it the runs we failed to take in the field - the ones turned into twos. Or even the last shot of the Ricky innings where the player lay across the boundary rope whilst fielding the ball that was only given as a 2! All of these things add up. What it definitely was not, was the fault of any ONE person, but a collective. We win as a team and we lose as a team. There is no middle ground.
The good news is that Rickmansworth, through the heavy run scoring and wicket taking, have actually gone top of the table, on our own, after 3 games. This is an open league where everyone beats everyone else. Just like last season. And we all know how that ended...in promotion. So come on boys. Let's make it happen again.