There was a real sense of excitement as the players and umpires took to the field in what was billed to be a tremendous encounter between two sides at the opposite ends of the cricketing spectrum.
Wickham Park, an established team with a rich collection of cricket silverware, against the Kent Ramblas, a team treading the wicket for the first time in their history (and fuck me did it show!). As the players gathered and begun to bare all in the dressing room the nerves were steadily increasing, jovial quips about the size of one’s arse closely followed by some full frontal’s kept spirits high going into the game.
The conditions were perfect for a nice bat around the park, a super spring day, the sun gently breaking through the clouds drying up those odd bits of morning rain which had briefly threatened the start of the match and a cool fine north eastily breeze just to let us know that it was after all only April.
J Stocks won the toss (tails never fails) and after a careful inspection of the wicket concluded that it might have a bit of bounce and turn which could unnerve the Park openers early on. So over to L Stocks it was to bowl the first over and a pretty good over it was too, finding a very consistent line and length which the batsmen struggled to pick up in the early stages. M Loughlin followed up with pace and bounce and the Park batsmen were limited to singles with a lively and energetic field spearheaded brilliantly by Sanchez-Rodriguez who saw more action in the opening exchanges than Tiger Woods in the Players’ Lounge.
It wasn’t long until the first wicket was taken, M Loughlin brillliantly catching his own delivery as the batsman attempted to strike it down the ground. The celebrations that followed were far from modest. Hugs, kisses a gentle grope, it was all there for the eye to see such was the euphoria of the Ramblas first ever wicket.
Bouyed by this, wickets begun to tumble. S Fitch dislodging off stump with his first ball and C Thomas dismissing the dangerous Park No 4 leaving them on the back foot and clearly threatened by the aggressive nature of the Ramblas attack and unsettled by the consistent wide deliveries dribbling down leg side. At 37 for 3 the Ramblas were building up quite a good head of steam.
However the experience and technical ability of Park began to rise to the surface with boundaries beginning to come more regularly. A solid middle order partnership swung the game in Park’s favour and despite more wickets falling a few more loose deliveries and one spectacular 12 ball over (Scoates, B) would make the task much more difficult. Just when the skipper was running out of bowling options, M Cooper and Vice Captain no less grabbed the ball and begun to work his stride pattern. Steaming in, his raw pace and bite left the batsman all ends up – catching the ball between his knees! The umpire’s finger was raised and the travelling WAGS were sent wild with hysteria. Park’s tail wagged back and forth like a Rottweiler shagging a poodle and they eventually declared at a stand of 218 for 7. A solid effort all round, the Ramblas felt they had a sniff of a chance as they ushered into the pavillion for a quick cup of tea and a jam sponge.
So, 219 was the target and my word what a monufuckingmental target it would prove to be.
J Stocks and J Loughlin stepped up to the crease looking to play their way into the game, batting sensibly and conservatively.
The former negotiated the first few balls before picking up a quickfire two, edging the ball between the slips the openers were off and running quicker than John Higgins in Ladbrokes.
Seven without loss and things were looking positive until a top edge by J Loughlin found mid off – like taking sweets off a baby the Park fielders muttered. M Loughlin came in looking to really set the game alight with his masterful stroke play and some subtle touches. He found a couple of boundaries but one call too many left both batsmen stranded without a pot to piss in and Loughlin was stumped. Gone. Ramblas wobbling at 12 for 2.
It didn’t really get much better after that, J Stocks and J Benson both stumped as their legs drifted out the crease, Cooper bowled and Parrett seeming to jump over the oncoming ball pretty much summed up a miserable batting display for the visitors. S Fitch made a valiant 21 and the less said about Rodriguez’s one and only shot the better!
So all out for 48 (seen in black and white here), the Ramblas comprehensively beaten but they soon found some solace in the bar afterwards.
The captain had a few words to say:
“Clearly there is much to improve in our play, particularly in the batting discipline of the game but we’re a young and enthusiastic side that will go through a steep learning curve in the next few weeks and I’m sure we will be better going into our next game agaist Tuskers. Taking the positives out of today we bowled very well and from afar looked extremely smart in our whites, a few of the wags using words such as ‘dashing’ and ‘snug’ so you have to be pleased with comments like that and I’m very proud of the boys”.
Man of the Match goes to Steve Fitch for producing consistent displays with the bat and ball.
So we turn our attention to this Sunday’s game and the trek over to neighbouring Surrey is in store. The absence of C Thomas, on international duty with Croatia sees S Cleverley making his debut in at no 5. The Ramblas will be looking for the big hitter to steady the ship in the middle order and eat up some time in the centre.