Profile by Miles Dilworth
Role: 5th XI Captain
Special strength: Team bonding
Cricketing hero: Imran Khan
Song you'd walk out to bat in a T20: Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
Richmond CC in three words: One big family
Captain of the 5th XI is the toughest gig at the club. Mustering 55 players each week is no small feat.* Ali Raza has the task of cobbling together the final few - a ragtag bunch of veterans, schoolboys and outright novices. They are no less heroic for it.
Not every club can do it. Richmond 5s often find themselves pitted against 4th and even 3rd XIs and drop outs mean Ali has to plug gaps in fields with just eight or nine players. But his determined stewardship has seen a revival in the side’s fortunes.
In 2017, following a gradual decline in turnout, the team was relegated having forfeited half its games. There was even talk of cutting the XI completely. Ali took over in 2018 and the team has fulfilled every fixture since. The side came within a whisker of winning the league in his first season in charge, only losing out by conceding a bye on the final ball of the season. Ali himself bowled more than 100 overs, kept wicket and still had time to rack up the odd match-winning knock.
‘It is always a challenge to get a side out every week,’ he says. ‘But it’s the team spirit and the way we support each other as if we were family that makes the 5s a very special bunch.’
* For those interested, that’s the equivalent of around 0.4 per cent of the entire adult population of Richmond.