After a four-week break, the Ramblas finally got a chance for a competitive 40-over match, as they welcomed South Norwood on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.
Winning the toss, Cap’n Stocks elected to field first – despite being a man down (well, Sanchez-Rodriguez…). That decision would contribute to a thankless task in first 40 overs, though, as aggressive hitting combined with some truly woeful catching attempts to see the visitors through to 285 all out.
It had started fairly well for the Ramblas, though, with M. Loughlin finding the edge of the wafting openers on more than one occasion, while Fitch was also causing the batsmen problems from the other end. Within the first five overs, wicketkeeper J. Loughlin let a tough chance slip through his gloves, and that missed opportunity gave the incumbent batsmen a new lease of life, upping the ante – and run rate.
However, the otherwise excellent stumpsman was soon joined by Cooper (twice), Thomas (twice) and M. Loughlin in putting down chances of varying difficulty.
With a score of 130-1 at drinks, keeping South Norwood at a score under 300 was now the aim for the home side – particularly with a former Indian first-class player still at the crease and a Kiwi who’d trained with the Cowdreys and Matthew Fleming at Kent yet to enter the field.
G. Parrett was the biggest victim of the sieve-like hands in the field, but he finally got his reward when Fitch hung on to the first of his day’s three catches. That was soon followed by an extraordinarily audacious one-handed catch on the long-off boundary from another Parrett delivery by M. Loughlin. If that gets bettered this season, then this match reviewer will eat his hat.
Collective pecker up following those wickets – plus the arrival of the aforementioned Sanchez-Rodriguez to bring them up to their full complement of fielders, renewed energy and – finally – some catches (including another splendid effort from Ian Dacre) held helped the Ramblas put the brakes on the rampant visitors. Among the wickets were Parrett – ending with four, Cap’n Stocks, Thomas and – notably – M. Loughlin, who came close to the first Ramblas hat-trick. Though don’t mention the one blot on Fitch’s fielding copybook to the bowler…
After some confusion over the number of overs bowled, Cap’n Stocks – with the help of Benson’s bucket hands – made it immaterial by taking the final scalp with the first ball of the disputed over.
And so to tea, this week a fine solo effort by a sore-headed R. Parrett. The plentiful spread supplemented for one intrepid Ramblas by a pack of dairy-free chocolate buttons. Kudos, as ever RP.
Ramblas run chase
Properly revitalised, Stocks and J. Loughlin went out looking to get the hosts off to a solid start, with the 286 needed to win not really ever on the cards. J Loughlin soon departed, though, but new boy Dan Georghiou came in and shook off early nerves to add some (admittedly streaky) runs.
A short-lived stay by Georghiou brought Benson to the crease who got another start before being bowled by an absolute pearler by the pacy Wasim. It was definitely a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ on that delivery.
While his cohorts faltered at the other end, Cap’n Stocks was steadily going about his business to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Now with vice-skipper Cooper at the crease, the waiting batsmen had the chance to ease their nerves, as the new man in confidently saw off the speed of Wasim and got in some hearty blows of his own. Alas, for the second home game in a row, a dubious LBW call brought the curtain down on what was looking a promising innings.
And so in came M. Loughlin to help put on a record Ramblas partnership. His fine 33 ended with his timbers splayed on the West Wickham turf, but not before confidently helping to add a combined 88 to the scorecard. But the skipper continued on with his run accumulation, ending with an unbeaten 76 to create another Ramblas record – edging past J. Loughlin’s highest individual score for the club. But there was still time for G. Parrett to come in and add an exhilarating 22 to lift the total to a team-high for the Ramblas boys.
Man of the Match: It seems harsh that neither a brilliant knock for Cap’n Stocks (plus two well-earned wickets), or Mark Loughlin’s fine all-round performance are enough to claim the accolade, but Geoff Parrett‘s refusal to let his head drop as his fielders let him down helped him to a four-wicket haul, while his ever-improving batting helped the side hit their best-ever score.