With rain lashing down in Cardiff delaying the First Test and a 3pm start in the Play-Off Final, all sports fans turned their attention instead to the pride of Kent (ahem…), as Kent Ramblas hosted Kent Elite in a friendly.
If you can’t be bothered to read the report, the match figures (such as they are) can be found here.
The home side had a few selection dilemmas, with injuries and picking-up-a-girlfriend-from-the-airport depriving them of two of their first-choice seam attack, but after a few last-minute phone calls, a scratch XI was found.
Back into the side after almost a month out came Chris Thomas, ignoring doctor’s orders to throw his wayward bowling back into the mix. Elsewhere, the bowling options were genuinely strengthened with the inclusion of Rich Turner and late call-up Graeme Moir, while Bradley Scoates ensured his availability to bolster the top order. In theory…
For a reminder of the mainstays of our team, why not check out our player profiles?
A first for the Ramblas (and, allegedly, the Elite boys), the game was a timed affair. More of which later.
A solid start
Onto the action, and Mark Loughlin again proved threatening from the football ground end, building up a head of steam and having the batsmen in all sorts of trouble. At the other end, Turner was again utilising his skiddy right armers to great effect and came up trumps with a couple of wickets – backed up by decent catching in the deep by new boy Moir.
In the field, Michael Cooper was doing his best Vanilla Ice impressions as he slid and skidded all over the shop (admittedly to great effect), while skipper Stocks Jnr was ensuring the energy levels were kept up with some cracking stops himself.
First man out was soon followed by his opening partner and into the breach stepped Moir and Parrett who worked well in tandem, as wickets fell thanks to good, consistent line and length and some strong takes in the field.
The Ramblas were now licking their lips at the prospect of getting stuck into the middle order, but the be-suited Ford (before the game, obviously) had other ideas. Competently and confidently he chipped away at the bad balls afforded him by the Ramblas attack, resolutely refusing to take any risks. Forming some decent, if one-sided, partnerships along the way, he got himself to 50, which everyone on both sides applauded warmly.
However, the niceties were soon over as Steve Fitch and then Thomas attempted to decapitate the incumbent batsmen. The ‘tactic’ worked though, as Fitch threw up a dipping delivery that nicked the bails off without even bouncing. One became two for Fitch shortly after, as he sent the timber flying once more.
Ford marches on
Despite his side now being five down, though, Ford was still looking comfortable as he nudged his score through the 60s and 70s. At 40 overs, the Elite scorecard stood at 140 for 5 and the Ramblas skipper brought back his big guns into the attack in an attempt to stem the flow of runs.
Turner and Mark Loughlin again gave little away, but the runs were coming a little more freely due to a mixture of good fortune for the batsman and some tired fielding. Wickets, though, were once more on the agenda as the pair struck again. But still Ford batted…
And, into the last over he needed 11 to reach one of the less entertaining centuries you’re likely to see. That’s not sour grapes (well, maybe a little), but with six needed off the last ball, a skier from Turner was landed into the metal railing, almost landing on the 4:29 from West Wickham to London Bridge. A single off the last ball – as the previous delivery was deemed a no-ball – meant Ford had single-handedly dragged his side to 198 for 8 from 49 overs.
So, after both sides scoffed their faces with another array of culinary delights lovingly put on by joint directors of cricket teas, Ruth and Sheena, the sides went back out just as the rain started to drizzle down.
The task, though, wasn’t straight-forward for the hosts. Regardless of the overs bowled before, come 6pm there would only be an additional 20 overs to play. Was it time to stick or twist for the Ramblas?
With conditions far less batsmen-friendly than earlier in the day, Jon Loughlin and Scoates came out intent on building a solid base to give the Ramblas some chance of victory. Alas, a ball that just died on Scoates proved the end of the opener early doors and Jon Loughlin was on the receiving end of a good catch on the fine-leg boundary.
In with a chance?
With the skipper and James Benson now in the lion’s den, the runs – albeit some of the streaky – were still coming at a healthy rate. If the hosts could keep wickets in hand and maintain the run rate… could they break their losing streak?
A solid-looking partnership was undone as Benson departed, but Mark Loughlin entered the fray to continue the momentum. Alas, his demise was soon followed by cap’n Stocks and the speedsters Cooper and Parrett were now in the firing line. While the running between the wickets may’ve looked in slow-motion, the run rate was again at a healthy lick. However, a tough LBW decision for Cooper meant he was on his way to the hutch, though not before a questioning glare and a word to umpire Scoates.
The wheezing between wickets was to continue, as Thomas entered the fray and some uncertain calls meant he was stretching for his crease on more than one occasion. Yet again, though, the Ramblas’ run rate was making a win just about attainable (albeit fairly unlikely). Dreams of supping champagne from a plastic cup, though, were cut short as Parrett and then Thomas were left ruing half-arsed shots on their way to the refuge of the gazebo.
In the end, Moir was left stranded on two as Turner’s wicket went a-tumbling.
Somewhat ridiculously, the Elite captain bowled himself for a barely believable 19 overs from start to finish, but Funnell and Lovell looked the pick of an apparently untried attack, as time and perhaps a bit of naivety put paid to any hopes of a Ramblas victory.
Still, there were positives to be had, as Fitch returned with aplomb with the ball, the fielding was of the Ramblas’ usual high standard and a few batsmen got starts.
Although it may be a very different looking team in terms of personnel next week against Petts Wood Tudor, the Ramblas boys can go into it with confidence.
Man of the Match: Graeme Moir. Despite knowing less than 24 hours before the game that he was playing, he held on to two catches, took a wicket with consistently threatening bowling and also ended on two not out.