Saturday 29th May was a historic day for NCC as the newly formed 5th XI played their first-ever game at the cricket ground in Fairlands, Guildford.
Back row (L to R): Howard McCann; Mark Rosser; Tim Jones; Keith Ford; Steve Franklin; George Newton Front Row (L to R): Andy Johnson; Tom Wilson; Alexander Wilson; Samuel Franklin; Ian Diggins
Today saw the start of a new chapter in the history of NCC 5th XI, with the inaugural “Home” fixture at Fairlands CC fittingly taking place against the “Auld Enemy” Guildford 4th XI. The day started with a few of the home team players assisting with some ground preparation, which in the end, probably made little difference to what remained a soft and green track that hadn’t benefited from any sort of covering to protect it from the monsoon weather conditions of the last 2-3 weeks.
Prior to taking the field, the first task of the day was a team photo to mark this new era and then having lost the toss, to set about seeing what the G’s batters were made of. Opening with Reverend George, who was more than ably supported by the junior Wilson, it was quickly obvious to all that accumulating runs was not going to be easy if the bowling remained tight- and the Normandy bowlers more than obliged in this department. It took until the 3rd over before Guildford got off the mark and then in the 6th over, Wilson took the key wicket of the experienced Chad Murrin who played on for 12.
The Auld Enemy plugged on without further loss into the 13th over when Ian Diggins chose this moment to carve his name into NCC folklore. His first over saw him pick up two wickets - both caught behind, a feat that was then followed by three further wicket maidens, which saw all 5 of his victims being caught by some of the best catches you’ll probably see at this level. Well done to Fordy (Rosser lost his house on that one), the senior Wilson, Tim Jones and Mark Rosser who all assisted in helping Diggins end with what are currently the season’s best bowling figures of 5-3-8-5. Whilst Diggins was performing his heroics, at the other end I’m pleased to say that young Sam Franklin, whose presence in the side due to illness during the week wasn’t certain until matchday mid-morning, stepped up to bowl. He also made full use of a pitch assisting the bowlers and ended his 4 overs with 2 for 9, clean bowling 1 victim and having a second caught at extra cover by the senior Wilson.
The Rev returned to replace a by now euphoric Diggins and went on to pick up the last remaining wicket which saw Jones make amends for an earlier misdemeanour and hold onto another caught behind chance, the Guildford innings ending for just 50, with Diggins rightly and proudly leading Normandy off the field tightly clutching the match ball.
Whilst 50 didn’t seem a big target to chase, the situation still required some mature heads for batting and Normandy were certainly blessed with experience in this department. Opening with Howard McCann and Steve “The Gun” Franklin, Normandy were soon well on their way when Franklin was bowled with the score on 17. Having already played some classy shots to the cover point boundary McCann was demonstrating to The Enemy how to bat on the Fairlands pitch. He was joined by the continually maturing junior Wilson, who bagged himself a couple of boundaries before finishing 13no, with Opener McCann finishing on 30no, including 5 fours and a six.
It was a great effort from the whole team on the day and let’s hope this is just the start of what could be many more opportunities for a Normandy 5th XI to use the generally excellent facilities offered by Fairlands – less than 10 minutes from Hunts Hill Road and now open to spectators.