After a heavy defeat at home to St Mary Cray a week earlier, there were fears that Mother Nature might deny the Ramblas the opportunity to bounce straight back. Luckily for all concerned, the weather was perfect for cricket as the Ramblas hosted local rivals Wickham Park.
Skipper Stocks had a selection headache as the majority of the Ramblas bowling union were on strike (I say strike, they were just otherwise engaged) but vice-skipper Cooper found another work colleague, Robin Sojrani, to don the Ramblas whites. Sam Ford enlisted a trio of his friends to help out, including his brother Pete and Alex Danks, who had both previously played for the Ramblas.
The Ramblas skipper lost the toss for the first time this season and the Ramblas were put into bat. Stocks Jr was nursing a quad injury sustained against St Mary Cray and aggravated it in the first over going for a quick single. This immobility led to his early dismissal, which saw him clean bowled for one. Sam Ford then came to the crease, as he and Harriss settled some early nerves, putting on a second wicket stand of 48 before Ford was given out LBW for 16… a decision he didn’t entirely agree with.
Ramblas debutant Sojrani strode to the crease and was in no mood to dilly dally, swinging hard at almost every ball he faced. Unfortunately, his cameo was short lived as he only scored five before failing to get enough on a heave down the ground and was caught at long-on.
Of course, it wouldn’’t be a Ramblas match report if there wasn’t some sort of batting collapse and boy did they oblige. The middle order of Danks, L. Stocks, Cleverley and Cooper were all dismissed without scoring a run, as the Ramblas collapsed to 76-7 and the scorecard boasted more ducks than Chris Packham could shake a stick at. The Ramblas were clearly taking their inspiration from Sri Lanka’s performance at Old Trafford earlier in the week.
There was some good news for the Ramblas, as amongst the chaos around him, Harriss was keeping the scoreboard ticking over, hitting some of his customary booming boundaries. He was ably assisted by Loughlin and they helped push the Ramblas over the 100 mark and some way towards a respectable tally. However, just as Loughlin was getting into his stride, Harris departed for 47, playing a loose shot that looped straight to the man at cover.
Ramblas new boy Chris came in at 10 and stuck around with quick scoring Loughlin to help push the Ramblas past 130 before Loughlin was dismissed for 36. Just as Pete Ford entered the fray, Chris was out and the Ramblas were all out for 135. Whilst it was a low total, considering the mess they found themselves in, the Ramblas had given themselves a competitive total and it was now over to the bowlers…
Silencing the noisy neighbours
After devouring another excellent Ramblas tea, brought to us by Mrs C, Skipper Stocks turned his thoughts to working out his patchwork bowling attack. In Fitch’s absence, Danks opened the bowling with Loughlin and after taking time to find his rhythm in his first over, suffocated the batsmen. Whilst his bowling didn’t reward him with a wicket, his six-over spell yielded a mere five runs and put the pressure back on the opening pair.
At the other end, Loughlin was steaming in with all his usual gusto, eliciting a few edges and testing the batsmen at all times. Loughlin finally got his reward when a delivery smacked the opener’s pads. After a strong collective appeal, the umpire took his time before raising his finger and the opener was out LBW. One wicket became two the very next ball as Wickham Park’s number three swung hard, only to toe-end it up in the air and into the waiting mitts of Loughlin.
With Wickham Park reeling from two quick wickets, Stocks gave Danks and Loughlin a rest and brought in Sojrani and Sam Ford to carry on their good work. And, like many of Ramblas’ PwC signings, Sojrani found instant success with the ball in his hand, as he cleaned bowled their number four with just his fourth delivery. Ford and Sojrani continued to apply pressure and the visitors managed to get to the drinks break with the score on 41-3.
Sensing that the game was theirs for the taking, and energised by a sugar infusion during the drinks break, the Ramblas came out all guns a-blazing. S. Ford and Sojrani continued to probe and S. Ford made the breakthrough when the batsman found the edge and ‘keeper Harriss made a sharp low catch to his right. A couple of overs later, S. Ford got his second wicket when the batsman, cramped for room, attempted a cut, only to loop it up to L. Stocks at gully who took another very good catch.
The wicket brought in Adam, who along with the still present opener Sam, started to take the fight back to the Ramblas bowling. However, the partnership was short-lived as Sojrani got his wicket, trapping Sam LBW for 16. The umpire took a long time deliberating the decision, but another rousing Ramblas appeal convinced him. Wickham Park soon found themselves seven wickets down when S. Ford trapped their number eight LBW for a duck.
With S. Ford and Sojrani bowled out, Stocks brought back Loughlin and also gave Pete Ford a chance to turn his arm. Loughlin struck first, as Samy (the scourge of the Ramblas batting order) swung hard and Chris took a sharp catch at cover. After an expensive first over, P. Ford got the Ramblas fourth LBW of the day, which is surely a Ramblas record. Ford then finished the game off the very next ball as their number 11, who clearly follows the “go big or go home” mantra, attempted to smack the ball down the ground only to be snared by Cleverley at mid-on.
The visitors were all out for 87 and the Ramblas won by 52 runs, a scoreline few would have predicted given the situation they found themselves in midway through their own innings. It was another trademark fielding effort from the Ramblas and credit goes to Wickham Park for fighting to the end.
The scorecard can be found here, on Play Cricket.
Ramblas MVP: All the bowlers performed with distinction and kudos to Ash Harriss for his key knock of 47. However, for his crucial innings of 36 and bowling figures of 3-16, Mark Loughlin takes this week’s MVP award.