By Duncan Green, Help for Heroes Beneficary & Cricket Club Member
The Help for Heroes Cricket Club, made up of wounded, injured and sick serving personnel and veterans, kicked off their season with victory over the British Airways (BA) Pilots at the Tidworth Oval this weekend.
British Airways XI won the toss and decided to bowl first, a decision they may well have regretted. Having been set a victory target of 146 the BA pilots crumbled to 102 all out in the final over.
The bowling attack of Help for Heroes Cricket Club had ripped into the BA Pilot’s top order and at one point had left them at 38 for 6. A sustained bowling attack made sure that the pilots were never in charge of the game and victory was never in reach.
Veteran Carl Harman (from Portsmouth), who served 10 years in the Royal Signals, was particularly potent, ending the match with figures of 4-1-17-3 and he pulled off a spectacular caught and bowled in the process. He was assisted by club captain and veteran Jason Wilkes (from Durham) who chipped in with two wickets and Ortis Charles (from Tidworth, Royal Irish) also chipped in with two wickets for the loss of just 7 runs.
The rest of the bowling attack and the sharpness of the fielders kept the pressure on the pilots and not one bowler was taken to the cleaners, which just ramped up the pressure up on the batsmen.
It was apt that in the first game of the season that the captain would take the final wicket with a peach of a delivery which sent the off bail flying. This handed Help for Heroes Cricket Club the victory by 43 runs.
Earlier in the day, the Help for Heroes Cricket Club had done very well to reach 145 runs for the loss of just 6 wickets, on a pitch which can only be described as very green. This meant the ball skidded on through and kept very low which was a big aid for the bowlers.
The innings did not get off to the best of starts as Help for Heroes lost opener Barrie Griffiths in the first over without troubling the scores. Worse was still to come as the skipper was given out LBW to a questionable decision by the umpire as the ball seemed to strike him very highly on the leg for just 1 run.
At this point you could sense that the BA Pilots were thinking a shock was on and they could win the match.
This was quelled quickly when Carl Harman came to the crease and he and Ortis Charles started to re-build the innings with a very stable and quick fire partnership adding 64 runs to the scorecard before Carl was clean bowled by a delivery that seemed to take an age to reach him.
Ortis continued the pace and was looking comfortable at the crease until he was also clean bowled. He finished the day as top scorer on 42. This looked like it could have been a turning point in the game as the pilots went on to get a couple of quick wickets.
With the score on 95 for the loss of 6 wickets the innings was given some impetus when Francis Ward and Patrick Medhurst-Fenway came to the crease. With Francis’s no fear attitude, smashing the ball over the boundary rope and Patrick gracefully guiding the ball all round the field of play, they had pushed the score on to a very respectable score of 145 at the end of the 20 overs.
Thanks to a complete team performance, the result was never in doubt. There were many great individual performances which could warrant a Man/Woman of the match award but in my eyes every single one of the team deserves praise for even being able to take to the field in the first place.
It is obvious that the team benefits from having a strong, tactically aware and bold captain on the field but it also looks like they have had a good pre-season and look more than ready for the season ahead.
When asked what cricket has done in there recovery, Veteran Lee James had this to say “ Cricket and sports recovery has helped me re-engage with people in the same way as I did within the military, without the feeling of anxiety and depression that I suffer from due to having PTSD. Mixing with individuals in similar situations as myself, eliminates the lonely feelings you get post discharge. Cricket and sports recovery has changed my life for the better.”
The Help for Heroes Cricket Team are training ahead of the inaugural Help for Heroes Twenty20 cricket fundraiser, supported by Old Mutual Wealth, which will take place on 17th September at the Kia Oval. The headline match will be preceded by the very first match between a Top Flight XI, who take on a Help for Heroes Recovery XI made up of those who have been wounded or injured serving in the British Armed Forces. Tickets are available at https://www.eticketing.co.uk/surreytickets/details/event.aspx?itemref=3222