A gorgeous (at first) summer’s afternoon in West Wickham saw the second part of the now-traditional 20:20 double-header between neighbours Wickham Park and Kent Ramblas, with the Ramblas looking for revenge following the previous week’s fairly pitiful reverse fixture.
Captain Cooper was able to field what looked on paper a pretty strong team, even taking into account the late withdrawal by Steve Fitch who was suffering from the rather comically named Mallet’s Finger. In came Dave Gambie, Jon Loughlin, Steve Cleverley, Sam Ford and Jonny Stocks as the hosts made a raft of enforced changes.
Once entry to the ground was attained following the quite arrival of Ash Harriss and Lewis Barham, the visitors won the toss and opted to bat, looking to post a big score to pressure their opponents.
Tearing in from The Tennis Court End (now shorn of the ‘tache) was Mark Loughlin who bowled his four overs off the reel and was right on the money, claiming his first wicket courtesy of a catch at deep gully by Ford. Cap’n Cooper’s field placings coming up trumps early on. Despite seeing a few edges fly between slip and ‘keeper, Loughlin continued and got his reward when a high chance was confidently claimed by Jonny Stocks.
From the other end, a good opening spell from Lewis Barham was unfortunate not to notch in the wicket column, before Ford returned fresh(ish) from his holiday to keep the pressure on. However, the scorer of last week’s winning runs, Turner, looked in fine fettle and was quickly finding the boundary rope – and beyond.
In partnership with Cadon, Turner capitalised on anything loose from the Ramblas attack, as the hosts’ skipper turned to Cleverley and then Thomas, but to no avail.
Having notched his 50, Turner continued to race along, looking en route for a large total. Cooper opted for a Harriss double-bill with the ball, with Rich bowling downhill to great effect, while Ash – from The Garden End – was unfortunate not to claim the prize wicket of Turner when a stumping opportunity went begging. Ford finished the bowling in tandem with Rich Harriss, but having seen Turner reach his century, neither could do much to change the course of the innings, as Wickham Park finished their 20 overs with an imposing 168; Turner ending 108 not out.
After a quick turnaround (well, barring Ash Harriss…), it was up to the returning Jonny Stocks and aforementioned A. Harriss to get the Ramblas off to a good start. A couple of fours and two singles from the first over was indeed the start they wanted, but Stocks was deceived by one that spat up off the turf to offer a simple chance at mid-wicket.
Late call-up Jon Loughlin was in next, but he was unable to continue what has been a good season with the bat, departing for one to a sharp catch at mid-wicket. Loanee Barham joined Harriss at the crease before the latter was done by sweet delivery, which brought in the third of our Ex Blues foursome, Dave Gambie. Alas, after a single each, Barham was bowled by another sharp ball, and Gambie – looking to up the pace – also departed having failed to properly connect with one.
That left Ford and Mark Loughlin in. With plenty of overs to go, but few wickets in hand, it was the tipping point of the Ramblas’ innings. If these two could score (very) heavily and (very) quickly, there was still a chance that they could get close to the 169 needed for victory. With their respective batting prowess this was not totally out of the question…
Ford, back at the scene of his magnificent 11o a few weeks ago, was again in good form, supported well by Loughlin before the latter was caught in the deep for four to bring in Cleverley – who was still reeling from his LBW dismissal at the weekend.
And the pair took the fight to the Park attack, before Cleverley was caught for 11. Rich Harriss was next to join Ford, but the pair weren’t together long, as Ford unluckily chopped the ball onto his stumps to return to the hutch for a solid 30.
With time running out and the run-rate getting higher than an estate agent on a Friday night, Thomas joined Harriss, but after a couple of singles, the latter was bowled as he eyed up the leg-side boundary to reunite Cap’n Cooper and Thomas at the crease.
Having stubbornly stuck around in partnership last week, the pair realised there was little point in doing the same this time around and they were intent on swinging the bat. A few leg-side gimmes were missed by Thomas, but he ended on six not out, while Cooper hit what is now becoming a trademark straight four in the final over to take his score to nine, as the Ramblas limped home to 92/9… some 76 behind the visitors. The scorecard can be found on our Play Cricket site.
The Ramblas failed to capitalise on a good start, but it was the devastating hitting of Turner that really took the game away from the hosts. Mark Loughlin and Ford were particularly effective with the ball, but the fielding was not quite up to the usual high standards, while the batting never really recovered – barring Ford’s innings – from the early loss of wickets.
Still, it was another friendly match between the two neighbours; the Ramblas hope to make the contests more competitive in 2014. Next: Petts Wood away.
Ramblas Man of the Match: While Loughlin’s early scalps gave the Ramblas hope, it’s Sam Ford‘s honour this week for his knock of 30 that, had he received a bit more support, could’ve driven the Ramblas on to a more meaningful total.