Fresh off a hard-earned win over Herne last week in chilly climes, the sun was out as the Ramblas returned to home comforts for a game against Petts Wood. Unlike the previous week, skipper Jon Stocks had a full complement of players at his disposal as Sam Ford, Steve Cleverley and Laurie Stocks returned to the line-up. After winning the first two tosses of the season, the skipper completed the hat-trick and elected to bat.
Skipper Stocks once again opened the batting with his usual partner in crime Harriss, with both players looking to get the team off to a good start – as well as getting their own seasons kick started. It was slow-going initially, as both players were keen to not throw their wickets away, dealing in singles when and where possible and ticking along nicely without troubling the scoreboard too much.
However, with Harriss nursing a shoulder injury he decided that the best medicine would be to beat the bowlers into submission. In true Harriss style, he scored 30 runs in the space of just three overs, smiting the opening bowlers with a flurry of boundaries; including some truly massive sixes that would make Chris Gayle proud. He reached 46 before being stumped off the bowling of Downes, after losing balance reaching for a ball just outside the off stump.
Ford then came to the crease aiming (like pretty much all of the top order) to get his first score of the season. Ford and Stocks continued to keep the runs coming, working in quick-fire singles and hitting any bad balls for boundaries. Sadly, this partnership was broken just before the drinks break as the skipper was clean bowled off the bowling of Rutter for 20. The ball kept low and managed to hit bat and pad before hitting the stumps and the skipper cut a frustrated figure as he walked off the pitch.
The Ramblas man of the moment Drew Smith was next up to bat and, with Ford, saw the Ramblas to the drinks break without any further hiccups. Both batsmen were in the mood to build on the good start made in the first 20 overs and continued to keep the bowlers on the back foot. This prompted a change in the bowling from Petts Wood, bringing Atthaway and Clooney to pick up some much needed wickets. Atthaway, getting plenty of turn on the ball, got the wicket of Smith. The ball pitched outside off stump, stayed low and came back in to clean bowl Smith for 25.
With nine overs left, that wicket brought Cooper to the crease, who was desperate to get off the mark and justify the money he spent on his new bat. After taking a couple of overs to get his eye in, he knew that it was time to go big or go home. His first few shots managed to find fielders, before smashing a straight drive for four. And the next ball was hit just as sweetly, however the drilled pull shot went straight into the chest of a fielder who managed to take a great catch to dismiss him.
Laurie Stocks’s season debut sadly only lasted three balls as he was clean bowled by Clooney for a duck. Clooney then picked up another wicket as Loughlin, who was also cleaned bowled, fell for just four. Cleverley came to the crease and ably supported Ford as he reached his 50 as the pair looked to help the Ramblas post a competitive total. Cleverley (4*) and Ford (64*) saw out the innings as the Ramblas finished with 179, which was slightly less than they would have hoped for considering the position the put themselves in at the drinks break.
Sun, seamers and short boundaries…
After another sumptuous Ramblas tea, prepared by Mrs Cooper in Ruth Parrett’s absence, it was time to take the field. The old adage states if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and the skipper certainly had that in mind when he opened the bowling with the impressive tandem of Loughlin and Steven (‘Stitch’) Fitch. Both bowlers kept the batsmen under wraps early doors but a combination of a few loose deliveries and a short boundary meant that Petts Wood were keeping up with the run rate.
Not wishing to flog his opening bowlers, Stocks turned to Haji and Smith to make the breakthrough and it wasn’t long before Haji got a wicket. Opener Atthaway mistimed his shot and Cleverley took an excellent catch over his shoulders at square leg. Haji didn’t have to wait long to claim his second wicket as, in his second over, he dismissed the other opener Porterfield. Looking to drive Haji down the ground, he drilled the ball straight towards the bowler who clung onto another very good catch.
Two wickets soon became three for both the Ramblas and Haji as the new batsman attempted a cover drive towards the short boundary only to succeeded in finding Smith, who took a smart catch to dismiss him. Ford replaced Smith and got his first wicket of the day when he cleaned bowled Petts Wood’s Smith for just one, which meant for four of their top five were now back in the hutch.
The Ramblas could feel the momentum swing their way when Petts Wood found themselves five down with Ford dismissing danger man Townsend for 18, who attempted to hit the ball towards the short boundary but instead found the edge of the bat and then hands of Smith at slip.
Smith then had a hand in a very bizarre run out that saw Russell dismissed for eight. After chasing down a ball at slip, his wayward throw to the bowler inspired the batsmen to come back for a risky (some may suicidal) second run and Loughlin collected the loose ball, threw it to Ford who whipped the bails off with the batsman way out of his crease. Parrett came on in place of Haji and offered up some good deliveries and managed to get a wicket when Sims tried to drive a full-ish delivery but mistimed his shot and looped the ball in the air to Laurie Stocks who took the catch.
Seven wickets had now fallen but the game was far from over as Petts Wood’s lower order were determined to take the game to the last over. Sensing that the momentum might be swing back in Petts Wood’s favour, Stocks brought Fitch back into the mix and the change proved inspired. Stitch cleaned bowled their number nine and Ramblas breathed a collective sigh of relief as the wicket fell.
Ford was then brought back to settle the tie (and the nerves) taking the final two wickets to seal the win. The first was a caught and bowled that saw him take out Haji after the latter had failed to heed the bowler’s call of “SAM’S”. The final wicket came thanks to a smart low catch by Loughlin as Petts Wood were bowled out for 147.
It was a great effort from both teams in the heat and the Ramblas can look back on the 32 run win with pride at a job well done. Petts Wood fought to the end and made them work hard for their win. For the match scorecard, check out our Play Cricket site.
Ramblas MVP: Shout outs to Ash Harriss for his quick fire 46 and Ahsan Haji for his impressive 3-17 bowling figures but the clear winner is Sam Ford for his important knock of 64* and match winning figures of 4-20.