With the news coming out of the Ramblas boardroom that the scheduled opponents, Kent Elite, had pulled out at the eleventh hour, there were fears of another game lost this season. However, using all their networking skills the Stocks brothers managed to arrange a fixture against the unknown quantity of Kidbrooke CC.
Missing from the teamsheet were Sanchez-Rodriguez, Scoates, Cleverley, Dacre and Thomas, with Jon Loughlin and Laurie Stocks returning from holiday in time to enter the starting line-up. The addition of ex-Blues father and son combo Richard and Ash Harriss saw the Ramblas cobble together 10 men to face Kibrooke who themselves could only muster nine players.
Winning the toss, skipper Johnny Stocks chose to bat first, hoping to put together a competitive total against a team the Ramblas didn’t have time do their intel on. However, an early smattering of rain had put the frighteners on both teams but it cleared up in time for the game to go ahead, despite an early break in play during the first 10 overs.
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The opening partnership of J. Loughlin and J. Stocks made a positive start despite the wet conditions, with both players rotating the strike well and dispatching the bad balls nicely. The duo raced to 30 runs off eight overs and with the sun finally coming out to join the festivities, the two looked set to be there for a while. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and J. Loughlin was dismissed the very next over for 19 runs, clean bowled to a delivery that stayed low.
A slight wobble
In true Ramblas fashion, one wicket quickly became three as Cooper and Laurie Stocks were both dismissed for ducks and the Ramblas went from 30-0 to 33-3 in the space of three overs. Cooper saw his bad run of form continue as he missed a straight ball and lost his off stump, while L. Stocks mistimed a shot, scooping the ball to the grateful fielder at mid-wicket. The elder Stocks was clearly frustrated at his shot selection and wishing that his pre-holiday form had continued.
With players and fans alike fearing the worst – and Directors of Tea Ruth and Sheena wondering if they’d need to start preparing the tea early – the newest member of the Ramblas family, Ash Harriss, strode out to the crease looking to break in his brand new bat. Harriss wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, with 16 of his first 17 runs coming off boundaries. Harris and J. Stocks steadied the ship expertly, putting on a 68-run partnership and taking the score over the 100 mark. Harriss was dismissed caught after going for one too many big shots, but played excellently for his 31 runs and left the Ramblas in a strong position
Fitch stepped up to the crease but failed to make an impact with the bat, becoming the third Ramblas member to score a duck after being dismissed, ironically, by a moon ball that came down in time to take off the bails. As Geoff Parrett came out to bat, Stocks followed Fitch back to the pavilion a few overs later, having set a great platform for the team with a solid knock of 45 but, knowing the skipper, he was disappointed that he couldn’t get past 50.
With Parrett and James Benson at the crease you knew there was going to be fireworks and Parrett duly obliged with some cracking shots, including the first six of the match. Ably supported by Benson at the other end, the pair put together a 23-run partnership before Benson was caught at mid-off by a great piece fielding for two. Mark Loughlin stepped up and followed in Benson’s footsteps, supporting the in-form Parrett and helping to keep the scoreboard ticking over at a steady rate.
Parrett’s scoring unfortunately ended, caught behind with the slightest of edges, but not before he recorded a career-best 38 that included five fours and two sixes. The last batsmen in, Richard Harriss, showed all his experience and poise, pushing singles and helping M. Loughlin play one of his better innings. R. Harris finished the innings with a huge six and the pair put on a 55-run partnership, to take the Ramblas to their highest ever score of 207.
A shot at glory
After another excellent tea from R.Parrett & Bulsara (the Lennon and McCartney of the cricket tea world), the Ramblas were filled up and, more importantly, fired up to ensure that today was a day when history could be made…
M. Loughlin and Fitch opened the bowling and despite some good bowling, the opposition found themselves 32 for no loss after seven overs. However, Fitch – clearly wishing to make amends for his duck – had his back up and bowled the first opener with a full-pitched delivery. He then followed it up two overs later with a superb delivery that swung in and clean bowled the other opener.
The momentum had swung Ramblas way and with the pressure on Kidbrooke’s batsmen, a mix up between the two saw their number three run out. With the batsman struggling to get to the crease, a sharp throw from R. Harriss and an excellent take from Benson led to the bails being whipped off and Kidbrooke three wickets down. Three wickets soon became four as the new batsman went for a big shot down the ground only to find the ball fall safely into the sturdy hands of Parrett.
Kidbrooke regrouped and their middle order started to get some much needed runs but the introduction of R. Harriss stemmed the flow of runs and applied the pressure. Despite a wobbly first over, Parrett’s next two overs were just what the doctor ordered and a wonderfully flighted delivery saw their most dangerous batsmen swing and miss and the ball clean up his middle stump.
The moment of truth
With five wickets down and only three remaining, the Ramblas sensed that this could be the time for them to achieve the elusive first win. However, Kidbrooke were still intent on spoiling the party and kept the runs ticking over but with the run rate increasing with each over, the pressure was increasing on the away side.
The strain finally told as the batsmen pushed for a risky single and the ball came to Fitch who quickly collected the ball, threw it to Benson whose excellent reflexes were again in show as he ran out a batsmen for the second time in the innings. A moment of madness from the batsmen meant just two wickets needed to be taken for the win…
The penultimate wicket didn’t take long to materialise, with R. Harriss’s excellent spell capped off with a much deserved wicket. Harriss’s tight line and length proved just too good for the tail-end batsman who was dismissed, clean bowled, without scoring a run.
The skipper brought on A. Harriss to help finish off the innings and the younger Harriss snagged the winning wicket as the batsmen tried to go for a big shot towards the short boundary. The Ramblas held their collective breaths as the ball sailed in their air towards J. Stocks and the captain made sure of the win with a regulation catch as the away side were dismissed for 99.
With the catch taken and the win secured the Ramblas walked off the field with an enormous sense of joy, pride and relief at a job well done.
Man of the Match: It really was the epitome of a team performance, with honourable mentions for Benson and his exceptional keeping skills accounting for two run outs, Fitch’s strong bowling performance and Parrett’s late order runs & key wicket. However, the honour this week goes to Johnny Stocks, who led from the front with an excellent, tempo setting 45 with the bat and followed it up with assured captaincy, fittingly taking the winning catch.