So the last game of an exhilarating season for the 3’s saw newly formed wandering team Harrovians make the short trip to the Park Oval. Many of the regular 3rd teamers were out enjoying some well earned family time or simply basking in the sun on a truly balmy afternoon meaning it was a much changed team for today’s fixture That being said, it was a great opportunity to get some last runs / wickets in the stats column for those who cared at this late stage of the season!
Doug had been handed the captain’s armband for the day and duly lost the toss. The Harrovians, after much discussion, decided to field however seeing the hangdog expression on Doug’s face, gallantly changed their mind and gave Ricky first go on what looked an absolute belter of a pitch.
Ricky’s openers for the day were Rayyan and 12 year old Aman Babber. Remember the name - you will be seeing a lot more of this young lad in the years to come. The pair gave the innings a solid foundation with a partnership of 42 featuring some lusty pull shots from Rayyan and some delightful offside strokes from Aman helped by the carpet like outfield which Harvey and Vishal had worked so hard on. The pair had seen off the opening bowlers who had been extracting some early movement from the pitch, however both fell victim to the first change left armer, Abdul, who speared in a couple of inswingers from around the wicket to hit the timbers of both.
Syam, had been pushed up the order today and like many of his innings this season unleashed some delightful drives (albeit interspersed with some truly kamikaze running) to tick the score along nicely. Ably supported by some lusty blows from Anuj the score had quickly pushed into the 80’s before Syam was bowled by skipper Asif’s tempting spin. Anuj had serenely moved into the 20’s when a ball clipped off his outside edge and smashed into his cheekbone. Unfortunately it meant he had to come off for some treatment which led to Doug coming to the crease to partner Hitamsch with the score somewhat precariously at 100-3 and one retired hurt.
The trio of Hitamsch, Hanuman and Nasser all unfortunately fell relatively cheaply to Asif who was ripping through the middle order. With the score now at 106-6 the team were at real risk of throwing away what had been a bright start. Throwing caution to the wind, Doug decided that plodding was not an option today, and smacked a number of maximums to reduce the pressure somewhat. It should be mentioned that the Harrovian fielders were a strong supporting cast to Doug’s innings charitably shelling a couple of opportunities that came their way. Late addition to the team, Rohan Oberoi, came in and showed few nerves and stroked his way to a classy 19. Having moved to Amersham last year, Ricky hope Rohan will resign for 2024 and join the exciting Ricky project. The score had moved to a much more comfortable 182 before he was undone by the returning quicks.
Having secured his 50, Doug retired to give the tail-enders a whack for the last few overs. Nayan and the returning Anuj duly obliged and crashed the ball to all parts to move the score comfortably past 200. The innings ended with local legend Tony McDonald-Barker turning a ball off his hip for a single and secure another not-out.
208 was a decent score however on what was undoubtedly the best pitch and outfield of the season, victory was far from a formality. The Harrovian openers managed to see off an aggressive opening spell from Rohan and Nayan and put together a 50 opening partnership with few chances being offered to the hungry fielders.
First change bowlers Nasser and Hanuman equally had little luck with their opening salvos and at the first drinks break the score had ticked into the 60’s with no wickets down. It should be mentioned that Hanuman as always was bowling like a metronome and tied the score down from one end only going for 8 runs from his 5 overs.
Replacing Hanuman at the top end, Syam came on and finally broke the team’s wicket duck with his very first ball smashing the ball into Irfan’s stumps. This raised the hopes of the Ricky team, because whilst never getting ahead of the run rate, an opening stand in the 70’s is never ideal.
Regular rotation of the bowlers, saw Aman come on at the Pavilion end to try and extract some turn from the surface with his off-spin. A really promising spell of 4 overs saw him mixing up both his pace and flight to cause the Harrovian batsmen some real issues. Hilariously, having made it to 48, the remaining opener commented to proud Dad Anuj that Aman had his number, and then duly chipped the ball up the very next ball to a waiting Tony who took a smart catch in the covers.
By now the run rate was creeping up, so Doug took the opportunity to bowl his first balls of the season. With a hint of away swing he too got a wicket with his first ball, with the ball being struck straight to Nasser at mid-on who took a comfortable catch. After chucking in a wide to confuse the batsman, Doug then clattered the ball into the stumps with his 3rd ball to see off the remainder of the Harrovian top-order.
Coming into the game, it had been noted that Tony had 99 wickets for Rickmansworth and it would be a great landmark for him if the magical 100 could be secured. Taking his place in the attack, Tony duly tried everything in his armoury, however the ball either evaded fielders on the full or crept past the stumps when they missed trying to smash the ball to the boundary in an effort to win the game.
The game was precariously poised at the 2nd drinks break. A few lusty blows would really put the pressure on the Ricky team and the game could genuinely have gone either way at this point. This pressurised situation as it turned out was the time for practically half the Ricky team to announce that they had events to attend and leave the battle. Fortunately, the 2nds had just wrapped up victory in their game, and after some hasty discussions between the captains, sub fielders descended en masse to give the Ricky team a fighting chance.
The final overs saw Hitamsch putting in a great spell at one end with his off-spin. Deservedly getting a victim with sub fielder Josh taking a good catch in the deep late on. The returning Rohan also got a well deserved wicket cleaning up an Harrovian with a snorting pitched up delivery.
With 19 needed off the last over this was the perfect time to give Tony an extra opportunity to get that 100th wicket. Sadly for both him and the team, it didn’t quite materialise and the Harrovians finished on a very decent 196-7.
On what had been an absolutely scorching day, it was great for the team to secure a final win of the season. Every player had the opportunity to play a full part and without exception all contributed to the victory. The Harrovians had being excellent opponents and it would be great to see them again next year if at all possible!
In one final note, huge appreciation goes to those who worked on the grounds this week. It was without doubt the best surface of the season and made for a really enjoyable game for all involved.especially with the sun shining. This was Cricket as it was supposed to be[n [/b]