While India and England battled out another intriguing day a Trent Bridge, cricket’s true fans found themselves back in West Wickham for the friendly encounter between hosts Kent Ramblas and Goldleaf.
A glorious sunny day, perfectly-prepared pitch and a bar serving beer all pointed towards a good day of ball versus bat. But who would come out on top? (If you really can’t be bothered to read, I’ll be hurt, but understand if you head straight to the scorecard on our Play Cricket site.)
First, team news for The Ramblas. Holidays deprived Cap’n Stocks of brother Laurie and Steve Fitch, while injury continued to keep out the big man – Steve Cleverley, so Ian Dacre and Rich Turner were brought into (hopefully) bolster the bowling options.
As ever, you can remind yourself of the team in our Introduction to the Players.
Having been put into bat, Goldleaf got off to a shaky start, with M. Loughlin finding the edge on more than one occasion in his first two overs, ensuring Benson behind the stumps was kept on his toes on his debut as wicketkeeper. From the other end, Geoff Parrett found his range after a few ‘looseners’ to tempt and tease the batsmen.
However, the home side couldn’t translate some decent pressure into chances. Cap’n Stocks put down a regulation pouch at mid-on and the batsmen soon opened their arms, with Parrett taking some punishment before sending a beautiful, turning peach of a delivery to send the bails flying.
Runs continued to flow for the visitors, before Parrett got in on the act again, taking the second opener LBW, and then Dacre joined in with an LBW of his own.
In the field, the Ramblas’ usual energy was again present, personified by some excellent stops and arrow-like throws by Scoates, while Turner, Dacre and Thomas all also put their bodies on the line. Indeed, Turner’s skidding deliveries again proved hard to get away.
A swap of wicketkeeper at the halfway point proved little distraction to the hosts, as both Messrs Benson and Cooper performed with distinction behind the stumps.
And then came a form of Ramblas’ history, as another cracking delivery from around the wicket by M. Loughlin took an edge which was safely held at second slip by Thomas – the first ever slip cordon catch for the Ramblas. The successful fielder was greeted by Scoates, sounding like a Dickensian schoolmaster, bellowing “You’ve actually achieved something…”.
A run-out from a tight angle by Thomas (following a slightly disrespectful reverse-sweep off the once-again testing bowling of Sanchez-Rodriguez) kept the momentum with the fielding side, while some late bludgeoning was curtailed as Cap’n Stocks got himself under high, looping hoik off of M. Loughlin’s bowling to take a very good catch.
A stronger second 20 overs saw the Ramblas restrict (and I use the term loosely) Goldleaf to 289/6, before both sides scoffed down another fine spread by Sheena and R. Parrett. Any latecomers were literally feeding off scraps…
Ramblas seek batting retribution
And so, following the batting debacle against Eastry in their last game, Cap’n Stocks and J. Loughlin headed out with hopes to gain some pride for the Ramblas collective.
It started well, too, as the pair – with J. Loughlin in particular looking in good nick – raced to a 50 partnership at a decent lick. The skipper, by his own admission, was scratching around a bit and was finally undone as he looked to up the run rate, but not before notching up a hard-fought 18.
That brought in fielder extraordinaire, Scoates, looking for a season-defining innings after a few shaky performances. And boy did it come. In unison with J. Loughlin, the runs continued to come, before the opener succumbed for 39 as he tried to force the pace.
Next in was Cooper, confidence high after being one of the few batsmen to be able to hold his head up high after the last game, but an attempted elevated leg-side drive was caught at mid-on. He was followed by Thomas, who’s weak leg-side loop was easily caught first ball. His team-mates feared for the safety of the dressing room as he trooped off shaking his head. (Reports of hundreds of pounds worth of damage are, at present, just speculation…).
M. Loughlin stepped into the breach to keep Scoates company next and the pair looked fairly comfortable, but runs were increasingly hard to come by. Scoates departed for a well-earned 26, to much cheer from his team-mates, while M. Loughlin notched up a speedy 29, ably supported by Parrett (13 n.o).
Benson overcame a swift blow to the knackers to hit eight, before heading straight for the ice bath (budget constraints meant this consisted of a cold can of Coke on his crown jewels); while Dacre, Turner and Sanchez-Rodriguez barely had time to trouble the scoreboard.
So, a promising base by the opening pair couldn’t quite be translated into a new high score, but the Ramblas ended with a fairly respectable 157/9 from their 40 overs.
Man of the Match: M. Loughlin. Always there or thereabouts when it comes to this award, his intelligent varying of pace eventually garnered the wickets he deserved, while a strong performance with the bat underlined another good all-round performance.