The Ramblas entered their second game of the season in buoyant mood following a narrow defeat at the hands of neighbours Wickham Park a week earlier. This game also marked a historic moment in the clubs short history, their first ever game played on home soil.
Much was made before the game of the sloping pitch and short boundaries, prompting the Ramblas skipper to make several throw away comments about the potential for an ‘extremely high scoring game’ and assertions that ‘there will be sixes aplenty’!
Two changes to the Ramblas side from their heroics at Wickham Park, the injury ravaged Chris Thomas came in for Brad Scoates who, after suffering from a viral condition in the week, was unable to take his place on the field of play. Steve Cleverley picked up a bruised fingernail and so using the full depth of the squad, Rich Turner came into the fold.
Losing the toss again, the Ramblas were put into bat first – a position they haven’t often found themselves in. It was clear that both sides were unsure how the pitch would play.
Losing Scoates at the top of the order meant a recall for J.Stocks to open with J.Loughlin and they negotiated the first few overs without too much cause for concern as the ‘Bottom bowlers slowly began to find their line. Reaching 23 without loss, suddenly their pace attack started to probe, with J.Loughlin fishing outside off stump in consecutive balls. The wicket wasn’t too far in coming as J.Loughlin was clean bowled for 10.
J.Stocks and M.Loughlin took a few moments to compose themselves and chat about various pleasantries. The Ramblas needed a strong solid partnership to build the innings. Defend the stumps. Play the loose balls. Tick over the runs. Use the overs available. M.Loughlin hit three boundaries off the next three balls. Needless to say it was an explosive innings, as he notched up a quick-fire 20, but it proved to be one hit too many as he was caught one-handed brilliantly at mid-on.
James Benson was looking to build on his golden duck seven days earlier and, despite an edgy start, showed real class in hitting the Ramblas’ first six of the season. That was after J.Stocks was caught out in the deep looking for a maximum hit himself. Singles were proving difficult to come by on a crowded playing surface enticing the Ramblas to hit boundaries, proving to be their undoing.
The signature Ramblas middle order collapse soon ensued with Benson, Fitch (duck) Parrett (duck) Cooper and L.Stocks (duck) being dismissed in quick succession. It was left to the tail to add some respectability to the score and they didn’t disappoint with Turner, Thomas and Rodriguez putting on 35 runs edging the Ramblas up to 107 all out. Thomas and Rodriguez in particular playing some fine strokes.
The interval tea was nothing short of sublime. Ruth Parrett making her debut in the kitchen put on a spread worthy of a royal weekend leaving the ‘Bottom players in admiration. The controversial meatball sandwiches proved to be the ace in the pack backed up nicely by some solid finishing courtesy of Cherry Bakewells and a Battenburg slice, leaving the players and umpires to waddle out for the second half.
The Ramblas knew that they would have to bowl well in order to make a game of it and so M.Loughlin and S.Fitch began their spells looking to strike straight away.
It proved to be their most successful bowling effort yet with M.Loughlin ripping through the top order with a masterclass in quick bowling. The Ramblas most potent force was backed up well by R.Turner, himself displaying devastating skill and accuracy to take three quick wickets. There was a game on. L.Stocks took a seventh wicket before picking up a shoulder injury. The ‘Bottom Captain was looking nervously on as his side had slumped to 90-7. The Ramblas had a sniff.
The ‘Bottom batsmen were looking nervous, hesitating between the wickets leaving opportunities for run-outs, opportunities which the Ramblas failed to take. Locksbottom made their target without the loss of any more wickets, the Ramblas in the end just not having enough runs on the board.
Another pleasing performance from the Ramblas, narrowly being defeated by three wickets. Here’s the scorecard, for those that way inclined.
For the second week in a row an extra 20 or 30 runs would have proved the difference and been enough to win. If we continue to bowl and field as well as we have done in recent weeks a win is only around the corner, nevertheless our batting must improve and every single player must make it their own responsibility to score runs.
Our next game sees us travel to Chipstead to play the Chevening Amblers, could this be the week we get our first win?
Do join us. Until then, don’t have nightmares and do sleep tight.