At the beginning of the season, we began with a new Captain, a player from Pakistan who we had never met, a group of new players and a group of young players who showed promise and who we hoped would deliver. The target was promotion to Division 2 – a level we had not been at since 2008.
And now it was August 19th, 2023, and promotion was within touching distance. Needing to win 2 or the last 3 games, Ricky simply HAD to beat 3rd place Bushey to avoid any mishaps. Not easy on their home pitch against a Bushey team who had only conceded more than 161 once all season. A bowling attack to rival our own.
The game started poorly with Usman out to a perfect off-cutter and Aamir going 2 balls later for a duck. 5/2. At the crease, Junaid and Kamber. Just like last week, the rebuild was slow and sure. After 25 overs the pair had put on 58 more runs in 138 balls. This was a cautious approach against a very tight bowling outfit. After drinks Junaid was the first to reach 50, but then fell for a well-crafted 51 to a winder slip catch. And then, in a moment, all the hard work was undone as Kamber (41) and Harvey (first-ball) saw the team slip to 102/5.
It called for a Captains innings and boy did Azeem deliver with 21 in a partnership of 45 with Mobeen. This was Azeem with fire in his belly and a perfect straight-drive in his pocket. When he departed, Mobeen went into over-drive crashing a magnificent half-century of his own that included 5 massive maximums. Bushey fell apart under the pressure and though Ricky were losing wickets at the other end, he enabled a score of 193. The first part of the job was accomplished.
Aamir was fired up and bowled as quick as he has all season. A season that has seen him take 42 league wickets at a rate of 8.90. Aamir has taken 1 in 3 of all the wickets Ricky have got in the 1st team this season. Bushey were 7/2 in the 3rd over. Malik took a wicket in the 9th with the batsman edging to the keeper and then Busdhey also dug in. It was another 14 overs before Mobeen tossed up a flighted delivery that saw the batsman half-way down the wicket and the ball in Usman’s gloves. And the very next ball, Bushey were 6 down as the next batter slogged one straight to Taz. 72/5 became 80/6 as Mobeen finally broke the spirit of the Bushey opening bat who was bowled for 38.
As has happened a few times this year, the Ricky fielding dropped off a level with the job not quite finished and yes, Yash with 10 overs for 36 bowled really well, and so did Taz as he picked up 2 vital wickets for 17. By now Bushey were running out of overs as well as wickets and Azeem bowled no 9 before Malik took the final wicket to secure a win by 55 runs.
Later in the evening, news filtered through that Potton Town had lost to bottom team North Enfield and Rickmansworth were PROMOTED! Robbed of the joy of achieving this on the field, it is still an a amazing achievement seeing Ricky back in the top ranks of the Herts League.
Congratulations to everyone who has taken part in the 1st team this season. 26 players may seem a lot, but they have all played a key part in a achieving something that this club only does once in a generation. Some of the players were not even born when the team was last in Division Two.
There is more to be written after the season finishes, but for now, the 1st team, and the whole club, can bask in the glory of a Mission Accomplished.