Saturday 24th April 2021, WOCC vs Heritage, LCF Division 1
WOCC came into this game unbeaten, having accumulated eight points from three wins and two abandoned games, and were high on confidence. After the covid-testing session, which saw a heart-warming tale of long-lost schoolmates, Richard Neale and Ed Packard, reunited (this has Oscar-winning blockbuster written all over it), captain Mohit Dixit won the toss, and elected to bat in the morning sunshine.
Heritage’s opening bowlers made it tough for the opening batsmen to get the score moving, with the white ball swinging in the chilly air. William Cope managed to hit two boundaries, but then dragged a delivery back on to the stumps with the score 13-1 after 2.1 overs. Joost Mees joined James Barker at the crease, as the score progressed steadily at seven an over. With the score on 36, James, who never got going in his innings, departed, and Heritage were on top with the ball as their bowlers kept it tight. Joost attempted to up the tempo, hitting a trademark lofted drive over the covers, and looked to have found his rhythm before finding the backward point fielder with a fierce square drive, leaving WOCC wobbling on 40-3 after 6.3 overs. The experienced pair of Richard Neale and Will Heath, playing his first game of the season, had a job on their hands, with Heritage well on top. Both batsmen ticked the scoreboard over, but some elegantly timed shots kept finding the fielders as Will rolled back the years with his lofted shots straight down the ground. Some sharp running between the wickets (yes, really!) took the partnership past 50, but soon after Will fell for 29, bowled trying to increase the run rate. The dangerous Reinhardt Heyns joined Richard out in the middle, with a further 20 runs added in 2.1 overs, before Richard nicked behind for the innings’ top score of 33. Fellow Millfield-educated and birthday boy Ed Packard was next to the crease, but received no birthday presents from Heritage’s bowlers as they sent down some testing yorkers, mixed with some sharp back-of-a-length rising deliveries, to ensure that WOCC were not able to wrestle back momentum at the back end of the innings. A final score of 125-6 off 20 overs was well below par, but credit should go to Heritage’s bowlers, who mixed swing bowling with consistency and discipline to keep WOCC from ever looking likely of reaching a par score.
The second innings began with WOCC knowing they would have to pick up early wickets to have any chance of victory, and William immediately delivered, inducing a catch to backward point off the fourth ball of the innings with the score 1-1. WOCC’s shirt sponsor, Tony Whiteman, came to the crease, and although WOCC had no intention of thanking him for this with some easy runs, Tony started sensibly, respecting the good balls, including a few absolute jaffas from opening bowler Daniel Austrie. First change bowler Pankaj Malav was introduced into the attack alongside captain Mohit, and although Mohit picked up the second wicket clean bowled, WOCC knew another wicket was desperately needed to have any chance of victory. Heritage captain Vikram Vijh joined Tony, and together they ticked the scoreboard over, as WOCC threw everything at them, knowing that they were facing an uphill battle. Last week’s impact bowler Mark Fitzgerald entered from his own bowling end, but found the opposing batsmen stubborn, as did Ed bowling from the rugby end. Tony eventually departed for 48 to an absolute screamer from Will Heath, who hung on to a skier one-handed, having sprinted full tilt to get to the ball (which is I’m sure how Mr. Heath would describe it). Ex-WOCC player Praveen Muthumanickam entered, and faced some hostile sledging from Joost behind the stumps. With Heritage marching towards victory, Mohit brought the field in, but unfortunately Heritage reached the target of 129 with one over to spare and seven wickets in hand. A disappointing display from WOCC’s batsmen, who left too much for their bowlers to do. With the game played in excellent spirit, WOCC congratulated Heritage on their well-deserved victory, and walked off preparing for the following day’s game against Star Cricket Club.