And so, as Australia attempted something approaching resistance at Lord’s, it was up to the players of Kent Ramblas and Priory to put on a proper game of cricket in West Wickham.
Alas, the prognosis wasn’t good for the visitors, as Priory suffered three late withdrawals to leave them calling upon the fielding services of last-minute call-up Walton, while the Ramblas gamely offered an extra body in the field, too, with Messrs Thomas, MacLeod, Smith and Cooper doing the honours at various times.
The Ramblas had looked in trouble regarding fielding a team earlier in the week, but phonecalls, texts, telegrams, carrier pigeons, Facebook posts and general begging from various team members led to a full XI being put out, with newcomers Peter MacLeod and Mark Cowan joining former Ramblas Drew Smith and Graeme Moir.
Winning the toss, Skipper Stocks decided to bat first, with his brother Laurie joining him as his opening partner. Facing some initially nippy bowling, the pair went fairly serenely along, the latter surviving an early chance in the field before unleashing his full repertoire of shots.
At the other end, the captain was carrying on his good form from the previous two weeks, picking off the bad balls with aplomb, while the pair ensured the scoreboard was kept ticking over with some sharp running between the wickets.
Due to the unseasonal sunshine, the decision was made to have two drinks breaks to ensure no pass-outs amongst the competitors, but after talk of “accelerating at 25 overs”, the first ball after the refreshments saw Stocks Snr caught off a top edge by the wicketkeeper for a quality 32.
That brought in Smith and he was in no mood to hang around. Supporting his skipper, there were boundaries aplenty on his way to a well-paced 40, before an elaborate leave saw his demise as his off stump was dislodged.
With the score at 132/2 and plenty of batting still to come, the Ramblas looked set for a competitive total. Next in was Mark Cowan, before the captain departed for another cracking knock, this time racking up 48 before being bowled.
Ash Harriss was in next, but his partnership with Cowan was cut short as the latter got hit on the elbow as a Priory fielder attempted a shy at the stumps. Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any lasting damage, but Cowan sat out the rest of the Ramblas batting, bringing Cooper to the crease.
Harriss hit five before being bowled, leading to an excellent 50-run partnership between Cooper and Mark Loughlin. After seeing off the return of the nippy Shrimpton, Cooper hit one fine four and a number of singles in support of Loughlin who was racing away.
Having put on 56 with Loughlin, Cooper departed for 12, to bring in Moir who supported Loughlin on his way to a second successive half-century, as the Ramblas closed on 216 for 5.
Bowling + batting = ?
Another sumptuous tea courtesy of Mrs C was enjoyed by all and proved excellent fuel for the Ramblas as they looked to get back-to-back wins.
Bowling from The Tennis Courts End, Loughlin struck early as he dismantled the stumps of the opener in his first over, while Dacre’s very first ball caused the demise of the other opener, in part thanks to a smart catch at short fine leg slip by MacLeod.
The Priory three and four brought the fight back to the Ramblas bowlers, before a very sharp catch high and to his right by wicketkeeper Harriss off the bowling of Loughlin brought the end of the big-hitting Thompson.
Giving his opening bowlers a breather, Skipper Stocks brought on Thomas in place of Loughlin and Moir replaced Dacre. The former offered up a mixed bag – including LBW appeals of varying quality – while Moir produced a fine line and length, bowling the top-scoring Beharie and snaffling the next man in his next over with a catch at slip by Cowan.
In his final over, Thomas managed to bring a loose drive by the new batsman that was well caught by Jonny Stocks at short mid-wicket. In between, Laurie Stocks and Thomas both tried to stop the same ball racing to the boundary by slide tackling, but neither could ‘bring it down’ as it raced away for four.
Moir continued and claimed his third wicket, this time LBW, to leave Priory seven down with just the debutant Walton left to come in. Walton confidently saw off Moir’s final over, before the captain turned to Cooper to take the pace off the ball, and with the final ball of his over tempted the last batter to nibble at one outside off that was caught by the diving Smith at second slip.
That left the visitors all out for 110 – a 106-run victory for the Ramblas. That’s two wins on the bounce, and unbeaten in four for us. Who’d have thunk it? The scorecard can be found here.
The Ramblas top order really set the stall out with fine knocks from both Stockses and Smith, while Cooper supported Loughlin well as the latter hit another 50+ not out.
It may not have been our best bowling performance, but it was good enough, as Loughlin and – in particular – Moir came up trumps with the cherry, and even Cooper got in on the act.
Ramblas Man of the Match: This may be the toughest call we’ve (well, I’ve) had to make, as the opening pair of Laurie and Jonny Stocks set a fantastic platform for the big-hitting Smith and Loughlin to take the game away from the visitors, while with the ball, Moir brought some much needed consistency. However, for his sterling work in ensuring the game went ahead (and that we had a tea-maker supreme in the wings), as well as his work with the bat, this week we’ll give it to Michael Cooper.