Words: Josh Wimott
What a weekend of sport! The drama, the thrills, the spills, the ups and downs, the balance of power ebbing and flowing until the evening sun was getting lower, and finally, gloriously, one team emerged victorious. And then England did pretty well on Sunday too…
Of course the England World Cup win was a glorious site, for a nation of cricket fans who had by and large grown up on a diet of England flopping at major tournaments, often made worse at local cricket clubs, particularly in the SW London area with their strong and diverse Antipodean and South Asian contingents to provide constant reminders as to the short comings of our national team.
I’m going to be honest, other than the tight finish, there are precious few comparisons between Saturdays match between RCC 2nd XI & Shepperton CC 2nd XI and the epic World Cup final on the Sunday. A top performance from the home teams premier all-rounder? Yep we had that too. And errr, that’s about it.
Because whilst Sunday was thrilling, the 2s game on Saturday wasn’t far off in terms of drama… well for us at least… Playing against a Shepperton side who were sitting 2nd in the league and with their sights set on promotion, the 2s knew that we needed to pull out one of our best performances of the season to have a chance. It started well winning the toss and putting Shepperton into bat, with Shahid and Babar setting about their early business with great control and patience.
Shahid picked up the early wicket with a strong LBW shout, before their other opener, having scratched around for 20 odd got a healthy edge behind to keeper Stu off the bowling of, as previously mentioned, RCC’s premier all rounder Dan Wrenn, bowling first change. With Dan on a roll, the RCC fielders swarmed in, 2 more wickets in consecutive balls left Dan on a hattrick and Shepperton precariously placed at 49-4. The hattrick ball was duly dispatched through midwicket for 4, much to everyone’s amusement, and Shepperton went back to building partnerships. Their number 6 played some strong attacking shots, getting the scoreboard racing along with Dan and Zak Khan looking now to contain. Drinks arrived at the perfect time, with Shepperton at 80-4. After some remarkably cold orange squash, the game changed again, thanks to one of the better pieces of fielding you’re likely to see on any cricket field, and something that you never expect to see on the heath. First ball after drinks the aggressive number 6 looked to hit Dan back over his head, only to miscue it towards the recently moved Yasir at mid-on. Somehow, Yas made the ground running a few steps back, flung up a right hand over his head and crumpled on the floor, only to reappear with the ball clutched in his grasp, cue frantic celebrations. With Yas clearly up for the game, he was brought on to bowl and duly delivered with an equally remarkable one handed caught and bowled, Shepperton now struggling at 104-7. However, with legs starting to get heavy, the Shepperton lower middle order started to fight back, good spells from juniors Fred Scowen and Abiram Ramesh couldn’t find the breakthrough, and so we turned back to opening pair Shahid and Babar to look to finish the game off. They duly delivered with a series of well-directed yorkers, Shepperton falling from 142-7 to 151 all out with 5 overs unused in their innings. Dan Wrenn the standout bowler picking up his maiden 5 wicket hall for the club.
Compared to previous weeks the 2s looked like a completely different team in the field, the ground fielding was by and large outstanding, and for the first time in living memory, not a single catch went down. 151 was still a decent score given the up and down nature of the pitch and an RCC batting line-up that looked a bit lighter than recent weeks, but to compete against one of the strongest teams in the league we knew it was always chaseable.
After tea, Sacha Hatteea (OBE) and skipper Josh took to the chase, against a wily opening bowling partnership utilising the old ball well. Some early boundaries gave way to a couple of quick wickets, with both openers departing with the score on 15. This brought Dan and Yas to the crease, Dan hot off the back of his first 5fer, and Yas still buzzing from his various fielding exploits. Where other batsman looked all at sea, Dan showed his class, taking a liking to all of the Shepperton bowlers and racing the score along. This seemed to help Yas settle in who started to hit some clean shots of his own. From 15-2, the 2s were seemingly now flying towards their target. Dan passed 50, scored largely in boundaries, but then with the score on 93 Yas fell. This brought wicketkeeper/batsman, and everyone’s favourite Scot to the crease, Stu Allen. Stu looking to find the gaps, Dan continuing to look to just smash the ball through all of the gaps. Again, the game seemed in hand, the 1s returned from an early victory in their game and much merriment and mirth was had on the side lines as the ball kept disappearing into the trees. Then disaster struck. Dan fell to probably Shepperton’s best bowler with the score on 119, to be followed by Babar next ball. From 119-3 the 2s had fallen to 119-5, and with the tail looking exposed with runs still to be scored. Stu continued to bat sensibly, now supported by the resolute Fahad Hasan. Putting away the bad balls, complimented by some good running between the wickets the runs required ticked down…
130-5, 22 needed. Stu falls LBW. Everyone apart from Stu seemed to think it was out, always the way isn’t it. Scoreboard now reading 130-6.
Welcome to the crease Zak Khan, batting up in the nosebleed territory for him of number 8. With runs needed and Fahad going well, the instruction, rather unhelpfully in hindsight, was just ‘go and knock them off Zak mate’… Zak clearly took that instruction to mean in as few balls as possible, as he dispatched his first ball over long on for 6, followed by a Jadeja-esque flourishing of his bat in celebration, slightly premature given we still needed 16 to win but entertaining none the less. Unfortunately, that was to be Zak’s only clean strike as he also fell, 139-7, 13 needed but with Chief Inspector Shahid, the 2s stalwart number 11 batting even more eye wateringly high at number 9. Clearly channelling the discipline required from his previous life patrolling the streets of Pakistan, Shahid by and large curbed his natural ‘attacking’ instincts, instead happy to look to knock it around alongside Fahad. Wide full toss, punched through the covers for 4, the required runs tick down. An uncomfortable number of plays and misses, 2 anxious 17-year olds sitting on the side lines with their pads on wondering if they’ll be needed to go and score the runs. 148-7, the Shepperton bowler drops short and Fahad pounces, pummelling it through mid wicket for 4. Cue massive celebrations on the boundary edge and hand shakes all round for one of the more exciting games of cricket we’ve seen on the heath. Fahad finished unbeaten on 13, that was worth so much more than that, and Shahid with probably his finest ever 6 not out. Roehampton had won by 3 wickets, and we could all breathe again. Well, for 24hrs at least until the next lot of cricket drama…
MOM – Dan Wrenn. 77 & 5-34
Thanks also to Stephen Kent for umpiring the game