A man-of-the-match performance from 18-year old Luke Gallichan led Jersey to a convincing 6-wicket victory over Kuwait in their opening fixture of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 6.
Chasing 180 in glorious sunshine at Grainville, Gallichan made an unbeaten 72 from 114 balls including seven boundaries, as he showed a maturity beyond his years with a determined and courageous innings.
Gallichan came to the crease with Jersey in a tricky situation at 8-2 in the 3rd over, having lost skipper Peter Gough and Ben Stevens to the new ball, leaving an awkward 20-minute spell to negotiate before the lunch interval.
Together with Corey Bisson, who made 45 from 85 balls including five boundaries, they saw off the early pressure and put on a crucial 97 runs for the 3rd wicket.
The Jersey pair neutralised the threat of Kuwait’s experienced spin attack with well-judged aggression and intelligent running between the wickets, taking the home side to 105-2.
Bisson then fell in the 30th over, caught at long-off trying to lift Irfan Bhatti over the top, and when Ed Farley was dismissed for a duck two overs later it looked like Jersey might be in trouble.
But the home side kept their cool, the experienced Andrew Dewhurst joining Gallichan at the crease and making an unbeaten 33 from 35 balls, hitting back-to-back boundaries in the 42nd over to see Jersey over the line.
Gallichan said, ‘It was my first innings in the WCL Division 6 and I’m thrilled to have scored 72 and to have won the game for our side. I was sent in as a ‘lunch watchman’ but I managed to stay there until the end and I’m really pleased with my performance.’
Jersey set up the victory by bowling Kuwait out for 179 in 39.5 overs.
Early wickets for Anthony Hawkins-Kay and Cornelis Bodenstein first reduced the Kuwaitis to 30-2 in the 6th over, but then a blistering 66-run partnership between Muhammed Khan, 40 off 45 balls, and Kashif Sherif, 39 off 34 balls, put Jersey on the back foot.
Captain Peter Gough chopped and changed his bowlers as Jersey tried to stem the flow of runs but the Kuwaitis were regularly finding the boundary with some expansive hard-hitting, moving their side on to 99-2 in the 16th over.
The highlight of the strokeplay was an audacious slog-sweep by Khan off the quick bowling of Bodenstein that sailed over the cow-corner boundary for 6.
But Jersey wrestled back the momentum when Tom Minty, fresh into the attack, removed the two danger men in quick succession, both smartly caught behind by Ed Farley standing up to the stumps.
Wickets then fell regularly as Kuwait collapsed to 132-7, Ben Stevens and Charles Perchard chipping in whilst Paul Connolly dried up the runs with a tight spell of testing seam bowling.
Muhammed Amin and Usman Waheed then put on a valuable 32-run partnership for the 8th wicket to steady the ship and take Kuwait to 164, but their stand was broken when Amin gloved a turning Stevens delivery to a diving Gough at first slip.
Opening bowler Corne Bodenstein then finished off the tail with some clinical strike bowling, Farley taking a classy one-handed catch to his left to dismiss Waheed and Gough pouching another sharp chance in the slips as Kuwait failed to bat out their allocated overs.
This left Jersey a testing 40-minute spell to face before the lunch interval and they looked in a spot of trouble as they lost both their skipper Gough and Stevens in the 3rd over.
Sajid Manzil drew the Jersey captain into a loose drive outside off-stump that was taken at first slip and the Kuwaiti opener then rapped Stevens on the pad next ball in front of all three to leave Jersey 8-2.
It was at this point that Gallichan joined opener Bisson at the crease and their key partnership began.
Jersey captain Peter Gough said, ‘We didn’t bowl as well as we would have liked in the first 18 overs but Paul Connolly, Tom Minty and Ben Stevens pulled it back really well. Kuwait were flying and we thought we’d be chasing 250 so we did a good job to restrict them.
‘With the bat, we were 8-2 and there was a lot of pressure on our men so I was delighted with how Luke and Corey handled the situation, both before and after the lunch interval. I’m pleased with how we played spin today so we’ll look to take that forward against Bahrain tomorrow.’
Kuwait’s captain Hisham Mirza said, ‘We got off to a good start but then came the collapse and 180 was a poor total for a 50 over game. We got some early breakthroughs through Sajid Manzil and there was turn out there for our spinners but Jersey played them well.’
Jersey coach Craig Hogan said he was delighted with Gallichan’s performance but that his side had room for improvement. ‘Luke’s performance was sensational today. To be told at the start of a 10-minute break that he was going to be sent in as a ‘lunch watchman’, and to bat the way that he did and carry his bat was brilliant. I’m very proud of him.
‘I thought we played well in the latter half of the game but we started poorly. We didn’t bowl in the areas we needed to on this sort of wicket and it was disappointing that Kuwait were able to get away from us early on. But we would’ve taken 180 at the start of the day and we took some really good catches and bowled in better areas in the middle overs.’
Jersey meet Bahrain at Les Quennevais tomorrow, starting at 1100 BST.