It may have taken most of the cricket season but the sun finally decided to makes its debut for the Ramblas in what was a glorious day for cricket. Fresh from the Kent Ramblas AGM in Barcelona, the board members were clearly happy to see the weather had followed them home and were looking forward to building on their first win only a few weeks ago. Priory were the opponents and despite the fact that they had only 9 players, proved an excellent adversary in sweltering conditions.
With Messrs Dacre, Thomas & Cleverley unavailable and Benson on an indefinite hiatus as he awaits the next member of the Ramblas youth set up, skipper Johnny Stocks called up Ashley Harriss for his fourth Ramblas cap. Johnny also handed a debut to former Kent Elite player & scourge of Kent Ramblas bowlers Sam Ford and the Ramblas had 11 players compared to Priory’s 9.
Winning the toss, skipper Johnny Stocks chose to field first, confident that his deep batting line-up could chase down any target. In the gorgeous and baking sunshine, the Ramblas headed out onto the field hoping to restrict Priory to a reasonable score.
Mark Loughlin opened the bowling along with Steven Fitch as both looked to find a much needed early wicket but despite some good bowling from the pair, the short boundary and a couple of edges down the hill saw the away side keep the scoreboard ticking over. Fortune finally favoured the Ramblas as Fitch’s tidy line saw the opener try to find the short boundary one too many times and instead found Mark Loughlin who coolly took the catch.
The skipper made a change to the bowling attack, with Geoff Parrett bowling downhill and the King of Spain Felipe Sanchez-Rodriguez bowling uphill. The bowling change proved inspired as, after stand in keeper Cooper put down an edge, Sanchez-Rodriguez’s efforts were rewarded with a wicket. Another well flighted delivery saw the batsmen go for pull shot only to find John Loughlin ready to take the catch. John Loughlin had put his previous catching demons behind him and took a key catch.
Two wickets became three following another change to the bowling attack, as Sam Ford’s fine deliveries saw him trap Priory’s number 4 LBW. Ashley Harriss joined Ford as the two tried to keep the pressure on. Unfortunately, there was scant reward for their bowling as the batmsen kept the runs coming.
Toiling in the field
With the sun bearing down & the wickets proving increasingly hard to come by, the Ramblas field fell ominously silent as if they were fearing a score similar to South Africa’s total at the Oval. The short boundary proved to be the batsmens’ friend as they continued to pile on runs. M. Loughlin & Fitch returned but were unable to reproduce their earlier form. The same can be said for Parrett’s return, his final over proving too much for the spinner, seeing it despatched for 18 runs. Parrett’s high powered board meeting exploits in Barcelona had clearly taken its toll and was more than happy when asked to return to fielding duties in the shade.
With the score ever increasing, skipper Stocks chose to bring back the Indiana Jones sounding Harriss ‘n’ Ford bowling tandem, which instantly paid dividends as they restricted the run rate and Harriss took his first wicket of the day, clean bowling one of the two 50 makers for Priory. Harriss would then go on to take an impressive three wickets on four balls in the penultimate over. After dismissing the second 50 maker with a quicker ball that cleaned up off stump, the next batsman didn’t last long being cleaned bowled first ball.
Sensing a possible hat-trick the Ramblas players crowded the stumps hoping to witness history. Sadly the batsmen had the audacity to block the delivery denying Harriss his hat-trick but was cleaned bowled the very next ball. Ford finished off the innings with his second wicket mid-way through the final over as Priory scored a very impressive 203.
A tough ask
Chasing 204 for the win, the Ramblas first plan was to fill up the visitors with another epic tea in the hope that they’d be unable to move, let alone bowl. Their plan B was to actually knock off the runs the hard way. Openers J. Stocks and J. Loughlin struggled to cope with the strong opening bowling attack, which saw Loughlin dismissed for 1 in the third over and Stocks out in the fifth over for 6.
In came in Ford and L. Stocks hoping to steady the ship and keep the run rate healthy and both looked in good touch. Ford played a variety of shots, ably supported by L. Stocks, rotating the strike and looking to see of the opening attack. Alas, Ford fell for 16, caught at slip playing a shot that he knew he shouldn’t have played.
Harriss strolled to the crease determined to see this chase through to the end and, along with L. Stocks saw off the opening bowlers. Harriss was playing a nice controlled innings, dispatching any bad balls and making sure not to give his wicket away. The Harriss/Stocks partnership put on a much needed 32 run partnership before Stocks was clean bowled for 9 in the 17th over. Bradley Scoates came in looking to get some much needed runs as well as support the in-form Harris but fell for 3 in a 14 run fifth wicket partnership.
In true Ramblas style, a mid-order collapse looked on the cards as Michael Cooper was, somewhat unluckily, dismissed for a duck from a ball that pitched over a foot outside off-stump and kicked back in to clean bowl the keeper. Geoff Parrett didn’t long either also being dismissed for a duck as Harriss feared he’d run out of partners.
Mark Louglin came to the crease scoring 11 of just five balls as he was clean bowled attempting to block a straight one. In came Steven Fitch, who followed L. Stocks earlier example and held up an end ensuring that Harriss saw the majority of the strike. Harriss duly obliged with a wonderful display of hitting, even if he did have a bit of luck after being dropped at long off.
However, Harriss’ put that behind him and continued to rack up the runs, bringing up his maiden 50 for the Kent Ramblas with a blistering four towards the cheering Ramblas faithful. The fans cheered Harriss’ impressive knock and called for more of the same and he really didn’t disappoint. He continued to bludgeon the strong Priory attack with Fitch proving to be a sturdy anchor. Sadly Fitch fell in the penultimate over for a workmanlike 4 and Sanchez Rodriguez bounded to the crease.
Tasked with seeing out the over, Sanchez, cracked a delectable 4 off the final ball, which saw Harriss keep the strike for the final over. Sadly the not out that Harriss had tasked himself with before the innings started wasn’t meant to be as he was cleaned bowled in the first ball of the final over. The ex-Blues player & Ramblas cult hero finished on 77 with six 4s and four 6s in a wonderful knock.
Despite the defeat, it was a great effort from the team in sweltering conditions and a lot of positives can be taken from the game. In a fractured season due the weather, the players showed they are still capable of putting in strong performances when given the chance.
Man of the Match: An honourable mention to debutant Sam Ford but there really only is one candidate, Ashley Harriss, who, not content with taking 4 wickets, also scored an excellent 77 with the bat.