Batting king Hick graces a great day
By Paul Tully (South Wales Argus - 23 July 1993); drawing by V F (Kim) Kimber
THE MAGNIFICENT Graeme Hick and his Worcestershire colleagues made it a day to remember for the small Gwent village of Penallt yesterday.
Hick, fresh from his superb 252 not out against Glamorgan at Abergavenny the previous day, crashed twenty sixes and five fours in an innings of 152 that opened the new village ground in fitting style.
"If we had written a script we couldn't have done it better," said Penallt captain Edward Haeffner.
"I couldn't think of a better batsman in the country to open a new ground", said Ossie Wheatley, chairman of the Sports Council of Wales, who handed over a £12,000 cheque towards the cost of buying the ground's freehold.
And Hick himself was delighted, particularly as the game also boosted Worcestershire coach Basil D'Oliveira's testimonial by £2,000.
"You don't get many days off from county cricket," he said, "and it's nice to be able to relax and enjoy yourself, so long as the people don't mind if you have a bit of fun."
"I always try to entertain, but sometimes it doesn't come off. Today it did and I'm happy if it helped make it a good day for everybody."
The Penallt club had done a marvellous job and their ground, ringed by around 1,500 people, painted a picture of village cricket at its best. But it needed someone like Hick to make it all worthwhile, and he did not disappoint.
On an unpredictable pitch, a subdued Worcestershire had slumped to 99-5 when Hick arrived, and were shortly 108-6. Young medium pacer Chris Brain had done most of the damage by removing Steve Rhodes (47), Martin Weston (26) and skipper Phil Neale (10) in a seven over spell of 3-46.
But after a quiet start Hick opened out, moving from fifty to 100 in eleven balls. At one stage he hit 14 sixes in 15 scoring stokes, injuring a female spectator, shattering a car window and almost injuring Penallt player Graham Ward, who crashed over some bales of straw as he attempted a boundary catch.
[The picture shows Hick hitting out with Penallt wicketkeeper Pat Moriarty looking on]
He eventually top edged a drive to deep cover where Brain completed a day he'll never forget with a catch off Warwick Gunter. It was also revenge for the bowler who had been hit for a maximum six sixes in one over, Hick taking 34 from another by Keith Hurditch.
Worcestershire eventually totalled 302-9 from their forty overs, and in reply Penallt made a fine 221-11 — 13 players being given a chance to bat.
Gunter, reprieved after being bowled for a first ball duck by Neil Radford, top scored with ??, Nigel King scored ??, Chris Townley 29, Dave Huntley 25 and Graham Ward 22 against gentle well pitched up bowling in the main.
"A marvellous day, marvellous occasion and excellent hospitality. Penallt have done themselves and their visitors proud," was D'Oliveira's perfect summing up.