The first U-11 fixture of the season (with the rain off last week) was as awaited as the pleasant change in weather. Our squad - barring Arno and Aydin, was a mixture of U-10s (Eshan, Kian, Wilf and Avi) & U-9s (Joseph, Aman and Reino), who were ready to step up the ante and play regular cricket with (almost) all proper rules in play!
Arno stepped in as Captain and despite losing the toss, got his wish as Ricky were asked to bat first. After a quick huddle and team talk, batting line up finalised, the opening pair of Arno and Avi walked in with purpose and confidence...
A good steady first over and good running between the wickets yielded 3 runs, with both batsman playing with a nice straight bat. Almost instantly, disaster struck in the following over where a mix up and a late call resulted in Arno being caught just short off making the crease (well done on dragging that bat and showing real grit in trying to make ground) - a loss, that Ricky paid the price later, specially since Arno has good experience of hard ball cricket and proven staying power at the wicket (8 / 1).
Eshan and Kian (after a promising boundary) fell in quick succession, which now shifted the momentum and put some pressure on Rickmansworth - who had lost 3 hardball players for 14 runs.
Meanwhile Avi, demonstrated the art of steadily building on singles, playing straight and defending where it mattered. Wilf, Aydin and Reino also fell in a cluster of wickets unfortunately...before young Aman announced his introduction to the hard ball-league with a sweetly timed boundary of the first ball!! Unfortunately for Ricky, we had allowed the bowlers to settle in and gain confidence by now and the wides dried up and we were being tested. Eventually, with some encouraging strokes and fast running by Joseph (2 n.o.) and Wilf & Reino (who had their chance to bat again as we were playing with 9 players), Ricky finished on 39!
So, now it was Ricky’s turn to turn up the heat in the field. The plan was to stick to rotating bowlers with 2 overs apiece (unlike our opponents who chose to bowl a full 8 overs with their 2 opening bowlers...and something for us to think about while we compete with other competitive clubs in our league...)!
Arno - striking with the 3rd ball of the 1st over and Kian (very economical) both with steady spells, picking up a wicket each. One of these was a stunning catch by Wilf in the outfield. However the 2nd and 3rd wicket partnerships of 15 runs each meant that the opposition had reached 30/3. Wilf picking up a crucial wicket as well to break a partnership that was threatening to run away with an easy win. With 35 on the board, Eshan decided to send a little message about our own strengths and rattled the stumps in back-to-back balls...to make it 35/5. A slight glimmer of hope for Ricky - but Chorleywood was at full strength with U-11 only players, which did prove to be their decisive advantage in the end. Also, great effort by Eshan and Kian to wicket-keep in the absence of a regular keeper for the squad.
The boys showed remarkable resolve and fighting spirit. U-11 is an interesting shift from Incredi-ball... - in this form of cricket, where a “swing and miss” can mean being clean bowled and unfortunately we had 8 of those...something to put our heads down and improve in the NETS. Finally, the boys were outstanding in their insights and post-mortem of the post match team discussion - full of praise of what went right, the contributions of their team mates and equally specific of what needed to improve!
Lessons learned we look forward to the next one....