“Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as Parklife,” Blur famously sung and it’s safe to say that any confidence among the Ramblas batsmen has been, quite frankly, shot to shit of late. Alas, it was the same old story in New Eltham as we took on RASC.
With Jon Loughlin (holiday), Steve Cleverley (on the razzle dazzle) and Geoff Parrett (broken finger) all missing, there were changes to be made to the Ramblas line-up. Returning to lead the side was Skipper Stocks, while Bradley Scoates made his second appearance of the season and last-minute call-up Drew Smith (having already played against the Ramblas this year) came in to complete the XI. However, given the frankly unnecessary showers across the South East, there were fears there would be no game to enjoy.
Thankfully (sort of, given the result), the weather improved as the day wore on, while the Ramblas performance declined at a similar rate of knots throughout the game…
Having lost the toss, the Ramblas were again starting in the field, with Mark Loughlin and Ian Dacre working well in tandem with the new cherry – the former unlucky not to claim an early wicket when a tough chance slipped out of the grasp of Ramblas ‘keeper for the day, Ash Harriss. Despite that early setback, Loughlin and Dacre continued to give little away with the latter tempting the opener into a drive to take the first scalp courtesy of a truly sharp catch close in by Sam Ford.
Knowing that the hosts were a tier or two above themselves, the Ramblas knew it was important to keep it tight in the field and bodies were put on the line in the name of cricket. Dacre claimed his second wicket courtesy of fantastic catch by Michael Cooper and after a strong first 10 overs, it was down to Ford and Chris Thomas to continue the good work.
Ford was again putting it on a good length and was soon the beneficiary of another smart pouch by Cooper, before seeing a steepler smartly taking at fine leg by his skipper. Meanwhile, at the other end, Thomas was struggling to hit his stride with his new action, but came back well in his third over to produce a wicket maiden – the catch superbly taken at backward point by newcomer Smith.
Keep on keeping on
Replacing Thomas was Fitch, while at the other end Ford was bowling his eight on the spin to great effect. Fitch’s radar was a little off to begin with before coming back well to offer strong support to an excellent spell from Ford.
Sensing the chance to get into the tail, Skipper Stocks recalled his big guns and they set about dismantling the rest of the RASC line-up – not without receiving a little punishment from left-hander Prubrick. However, that didn’t deter Loughlin and Dacre, with the former finally getting the wicket he deserved after the batsman nicked one through to the ‘keeper before Dacre finished the job – getting one to go through the gate and then eliciting an edge to Fitch at slip.
Given the gap in class, restricting the hosts to 168 was deemed a good effort and, as with all barring one of the games this season, the Ramblas knew that – on paper at least – the target was attainable.
To be honest, there was little to take away from the batting effort as the Ramblas crumbled to 38 all out. The stand-out was a stoic innings by Cooper who was the only Rambla who didn’t treat his wicket like Charles Saatchi treats Nigella Lawson, while a quick-fire cameo from Loughlin and a gorgeous drive by Scoates were the only other performances of note in an otherwise abject offering.
Continuing the theme of the season, it was the batting that failed to match another stellar bowling performance. Indeed, if there was one positive to take out of proceedings, it was the fantastic catches from a range of fielders. However, it’s back to the drawing board (can you go further back than that?) for the batsmen…
The scorecard (which is very hazy at time of press), can be found on our Play Cricket site.
Man of the Match: A special mention has to go to vice-skipper Cooper for two fabulous catches in the field and a valuably turgid stay at the crease to offer a morsel of resistance in the face of misery around him. However, for his four wickets in seven and a half overs (and back to his traditionally miserly self) it has to be Ian Dacre this week.