“Good things come to those who wait,” the saying goes. With that in mind – and after four successive cancellations due to the interminable ‘spring’ weather – the mighty Kent Ramblas finally got to don their whites for the first time this season.
With anticipation high, and nerves slightly jangling, the Ramblas returned to their home ground for the visit of old adversaries Kent Elite. Despite being their first outing, Ramblas skipper Jonny Stocks had little in the way of selection dilemmas as Steve Cleverley remained on the injury list, and Bradley Scoates was washing his car. Or something…
So, with a team stacked heavily with bowlers and having won the toss, skipper Stocks led his side out to field first.
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On a docile pitch, it was down to Steve Fitch and Chris Thomas to head the bowling attack, the pair starting off well to restrict the Elite openers to little in the way of runs. Thomas, unlucky not to force a wicket as two half chances went awry, was showing no signs of his knee problems, while at the other end, Fitch was as miserly with his medium-paced tempters as he is with his money…
Looking to continue the solid work of the first pair, the captain turned to Felipe Sanchez-Rodriguez and Ian Dacre. And although they may not work well in tandem between the wickets when batting, the duo maintained steady and probing lines, with Dacre finally making the breakthrough, caught in the deep by a surprised – but grateful – Thomas.
An old acquaintance…
Into bat came last year’s nemesis, Ford, but Dacre and Sanchez remained unperturbed, continuing their good work up to the halfway mark of the innings, with Elite on 61-1 – a new benchmark for the home side.
Although wicket-taking chances remained scarce after the resumption – even with the introduction of last year’s bowling heroes Geoff Parrett and Mark Loughlin – the runs continued to come slowly.
However, the mood soon changed for the Ramblas.
First, an exquisite bit of fielding by Jon Loughlin led to what the hosts were sure was a run out, but without a square leg umpire on the field (and some would say a lack of honesty from the batsman), they were left exasperated and shaking their heads in dismay. For the next few overs, the disappointment among the fielders was palpable.
That setback was exacerbated by the batsmen opening their arms, and soon piling on the runs.
Having bowled out Dacre – who finished with magnificent figures of 1-16 from his eight overs – the skipper tried mixing it up, but no one could make the breakthrough. Both batsmen reached 50, before opener Danks – who survived the run-out shout – reached triple figures and helped the visitors reach 239 from their 40 overs.
A captain’s innings
After enjoying the first of what is sure to be many splendid spreads from the temptresses of tea Ruth and Sheena (amazing shout on the lemon cake, girls!), the two Jons – Loughlin and Stocks – went out in pursuit of the 240 to win.
Despite something of a scratchy start from the skipper, J. Loughlin continued the good form he’d shown in the nets confidently racing to 16 before an ill-advised sweep proved his undoing. Joining J.Stocks was vice-captain Michael Cooper who, after competently keeping out some dangerous deliveries, fell after his first shot in anger.
Next up was Laurie Stocks, and it certainly wasn’t a case of Brothers Grimm at the crease.
Although the visitors turned to the umpires a couple of times, both Stocks looked comfortable as they led their side to 78-1 at the 20-over drinks break – another team best. However, a barren five overs preceded L. Stocks’s departure for a career-high 16 and the run rate failed to pick up, as Fitch, M. Loughlin and James Benson (who again performed strongly behind the stumps) all fell in quick succession.
But while his side were tumbling around him, captain Jonny Stocks carried on his merry way to a well-earned half century.
Some trademark biffs helped Parrett to 12 and ensured J. Stocks had a partner to help him notch up further runs, while the Ramblas’ hero with the ball Dacre also came in to hold up an end before being cleaned up.
Thomas came in to face just three balls before some late hitting helped J. Stocks to a Ramblas best 84, falling caught and bowled on the very last delivery. That left the hosts on 152-8 – meaning an 88-run defeat.
While the Ramblas were left ruing another defeat, positives came in the form of the usual high levels of fielding, the batting performances of the brothers Stocks and the fine bowling of Dacre and Fitch.
Here’s hoping the weather holds off and it’s just the first of many games for the Ramblas boys!
Man of the Match: A special mention must go to both Ian Dacre and Laurie Stocks for their outstanding performances with ball and bat respectively, but it would be churlish not to give this accolade to captain Jonny Stocks for his superlative showing with the blade. If he can carry on providing that base from the start, and get some support from his team-mates, a debut win may not be far off.