“Sun is shining, the weather is sweet/Makes you want to move those dancing feet,” sang Finley Quaye, but if only the Kent Ramblas batsmen had moved theirs on Sunday this could have been a euphoric piece of writing describing their inaugural victory. Alas, that delight awaits us all…
For the stats fans among you, the figures can be found on our Play Cricket site.
Ahead of the game against Herne Bay-based Herne Cricket Club (a picture of their glorious ground is at the bottom of the page), skipper Jonny Stocks had to enlist the help of former colleague John Goss to bring the Ramblas up to 10 for the journey south, with Messrs Dacre, Scoates, Cleverley and Sanchez-Rodriguez all missing for reasons spanning from injury (Cleverley) to pretending to be Kevin Webster from Coronation Street (Scoates).
Anyway, having lost the toss, the Ramblas were forced to bowl first, with Mark Loughlin and Chris Thomas opening up on a pitch that hadn’t been cut for a week and offered little in the way of bounce. Coming on the back of what may have been his weakest showing with the ball last week, M. Loughlin was back with vengeance – consistently having the openers fishing outside off stump and suffocating them to such an extent that runs were a very rare commodity.
At the other end, Thomas wasn’t quite as economical and fairly wayward (including one loose delivery that had the batsman’s wife wondering if there’d be any more baby batsmen…), but an uncharacteristically athletic one-handed attempted catch off his own bowling underlined that both bowlers meant business. The breakthrough came shortly after, though: a Thomas Tempter™ outside off-stump was edged to slip, where Goss expertly snaffled it at the second attempt.
Following the sterling work in the first 10 overs by M. Loughlin and Thomas, Steve Fitch and Geoff Parrett came into the attack. Again, little was on offer in the way of runs, leaving the hosts at 50-1 at drinks and the visitors sensing something special could be on the cards.
In the period after the break, half-chances off the bowling of Thomas and Parrett came and went, before skipper Stocks entered the fray to constantly test the number three batsman who always ready to open his arms. When he pitched it right, the batsmen was as befuddled as a drunk nan by the Countdown conundrum. At the other end, Parrett was sticking steadfastly to his task despite facing aggressive batsmen and soon the pair were among the wickets.
Skipper’s unyielding line outside off came up trumps, a tickle on the outside edge caught by Goss – wicket-keeper for the second half of the innings. Not to be outdone, Parrett came back well from being smited for a one-bounce four to clean up Robinson after reaching his 50.
Coming back into the attack, M. Loughlin was again giving nothing away to the batsmen as they struggled with the extra yard of pace he had to offer. Figures of eight overs, three maidens and just 13 runs highlighted that he was unlucky not to get among the wickets.
Someone who was among the wickets, though was Fitch, having already cleaned up the number three, he also saw to the big-hitting Spencer (via foot, bat, leg and kitchen sink) and then – with the help of M. Loughlin in the deep – taking the final wicket. Figures of 3-27 affirming just how well he bowled.
A slight miscalculation left an over spare after the skipper completed his first seven overs for quite some time, so vice-captain Michael Cooper stepped up to the plate, testing the batsmen and not letting them fill their boots at the last.
Same old song…
Tea got the Parrett thumbs up (“seven out of 10”), and it was soon time for skipper Stocks and J. Loughlin to traipse to the middle in search of the 160 runs needed to win. The total was certainly within their reach, but on a pitch that was hard to get away – with boundaries even harder to get – the chase was always going to be a tall order.
Fresh from his man of the match performance the previous week, J. Stocks hit some decent shots before seeing his opening partner bowled by a ball that kept straight. In came Cooper, bravely playing his second game in two days and looking to get off the mark for the season. However, his captain soon departed having been caught by a sharp take at slip.
It may not have been pretty – and the running between the wickets was certainly not quick – but Cooper scratched his way to a well-earned (and stabilising) eight alongside another superlative batting performance from Laurie Stocks. Having set his stall out as a batsmen this year, the decision to ditch the bowling is proving a sound one. Having hit a career-high 16 in the previous game, he bettered that with a team-best 18 before being caught by the wicket-keeper.
Cooper and Fitch saw the Ramblas through to drinks – matching the hosts’ 50 at the same juncture. However, with fewer batsmen left in the hutch, the onus was on to see off the next few overs before looking to up the run rate. And that the pair did, before Cooper succumbed to a caught and bowled as he looked to apply pressure on the Herne side.
Joining Fitch was James Benson who, understanding the need to get the scoreboard ticking over, was intent on getting on top of the bowlers (so to speak), but this gung-ho attitude inevitably led to glorious failure as he missed out on troubling the scorers. Following Benson was Parrett, who again combined well with Fitch – the latter executing some trademark swipes to reach 14 before being bowled.
Owing his side an innings, M. Loughlin came in and looked in good nick. Racing to 12, he survived a catch after the delivery was deemed a no ball, before becoming a victim of the unpredictable bounce of the pitch to offer up a simple return catch to the bowler.
Seven down soon became eight, as Parrett departed before Thomas completed the set to leave Goss high and dry without facing a ball. Despite starts for L. Stocks, Fitch, M. Loughlin and Parrett, the Ramblas stuttered to 93 all out – 67 runs shy of victory.
As ever, the fielding was almost impeccable from the Ramblas, with each bowler stepping up to the plate at various times and genuine energy searing through the whole side. Although the disappointing showing with the bat needs addressing, the Ramblas can each be proud of the performance as they edge ever closer to that first win.
The hosts were an amiable bunch (in a lovely ground, to boot) and the sides evenly matched, so hopes of a rematch are high among the Ramblas boys.
Next week’s game back on home turf with landlords Ex-Blues promises to be another chance to right the wrongs. COYR!
Man of the Match: For the second successive week, Laurie Stocks deserves a special mention for another sterling showing with the bat, but for his all-round performance, this week’s award must go to Steve Fitch. Figures of 3-27 tell their own story, while a return to form with the bat should remind the team that victory may not be far away.