By Alex Watson
Hampton School won the toss and elected to bowl
Royal Grammar School Guildford 100 all out (20.3 overs)
O. Krikorian 17 (18) A. Watson 3-12
A. Powers 14 (11) J. Youster 2-9
C. Hughes 14* (24) S. Shukla 1-11
T. Collins 12 (11) B. Fairbairn 1-12
J. Rodgers 11 (13) A. Mathur 1-12
Hampton School 104-5 (19.4 overs)
S. Amor 28 (44) T. Douglas 2-19
S. Hilmy 17 (17) T. Collins 1-7
A. Kirthivasan 12 (19) A. Powers 1-25
C. Moffat 9 (16) O. Tooze 1-31
A. Watson 8* (3)
Many would expect that, after the incessant attack of sunshine over the past few weeks, the Royal Grammar School Guildford pitch would be hard, dry and perfect for batting. However, after a quick pitch inspection, the Hampton U14B unit came to the conclusion that the pitch was much more soft and grassy than you would imagine, swiftly deciding electing to bowl was the only right option.
Captain and wicketkeeper Harry Drewry provided Hampton with their first success of the day, winning the toss and obviously electing to field. However, RGS U14B came out of the blocks hard, with the two openers looking to score quick early runs to give the innings some early impetus.
However, just when it seemed as though RGS were taking control, Hampton opening quick produced an inswinger on a perfect length to dismiss the RGS number one. Encouraged by this wicket, fellow opener Shivang Shukla followed in Holden’s footsteps as the other opening batsman chopped on to his own stumps. RGS 19-2.
After the early wickets, batsmen three and four looked to regain control for the hosts with a strong partnership. Holden and Shukla both went for runs and were taken off, but replacement bowler Ben Fairbairn did not fare much better. However, as is the pattern with this year’s U14Bs, they took a wicket at exactly the right time. Spinner Jack Youster, bowling his first ever over for the Bs after converting from a specialist batsman, produced a clever arm ball to nip through the RGS no.3’s defence and onto the stumps.
The very next ball, a short ball from Fairbairn was spooned into the air to expert cover fielder Stanley Amor, who took a regulation catch. After a brief rebuild, new bowler Alex Watson clipped the top of leg stump to put Hampton in control of the game, with the home side looking precarious at 63-5.
Two more wickets for Watson thanks to good catches from Holden and Fairbairn furthered RGS’ misery, before Youster picked up his second wicket and cover fielder Amor’s fast hands created a run out from nowhere. With the score 79-9, the final two batsmen knew they had to take their side’s innings as deep as possible. They managed to stay in for a decent amount of time, picking runs off the change bowlers and adding 21 to the score.
However, just as the 100 had been reached, spinner Ameya Mathur took his one and wicket as the ball was skewed to Charlie Moffat at point. RGS were all out for exactly one hundred runs.
Regardless, this was of course not an easy pitch to bat on, and it was crucial for the U14Bs to be diligent during their chase. This was made evident early on, as with the score on just 18, opening batsman Moffat nicked off, having managed 9 off 16 balls. In came Amor at 3, and alongside Aditya Kirthivasan he managed to steady the Hampton ship, Amor having the lion’s share of the strike. It was not a pretty partnership but the runs slowly began to build up.
However, having just reached the Hampton 50, Kirthivasan was bowled by a delivery from an RGS pacer, leaving the U14Bs 51-2. Steffan Hilmy at 4 continued the cautious batting approach but Amor was the next to go, cutting the ball straight to point to leave Hampton 69-3 needing a further 32 for victory. He had made an important 28 off 44 balls.
Sadly, number five batsman Fairbairn did not have much time at the crease, swinging across the line and being trapped LBW for just a single run. Despite this setback, Hampton looked to be sailing to a simple victory thanks to some sensible batting from Will Kirk and Hilmy. Nevertheless, with just 5 needed for victory Hilmy edged to the keeper and in came Alex Watson to try and finish the job.
Three balls later, thanks to a lovely cover drive and a leg flick, both shots going for four, Hampton U14B had secured the win and maintained their unbeaten record for the season. This was a very impressive feat, but their next and final two games of the season would be the toughest tests yet – Eton at home, and Whitgift away.