Well, in the words of The Smiths, Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before… as the Ramblas made the fairly short journey to the village of Farningham.
As well as the sun going missing on Sunday, there were a few players absent which meant Peter Ford and Alex Danks returned for their second appearances this season, while Skipper Stocks made his own return from injury.
Losing the toss, the visitors were put in the field, with Mark Loughlin and Steve Fitch once more opening the bowling and Sam Ford taking the gloves behind the stumps for the first 20 overs. And it proved to be a fairly chastening start to the game for the Ramblas, as the well-set openers rarely looked in danger and comfortably accumulated runs at a decent rate.
After nine overs, with barely a sniff of a wicket, the skipper changed his attack, bringing on Danks for Loughlin and Thomas for Fitch. There was still little sign of discomfort the batsmen, as they merrily marched to a partnership of 86 off just 14 overs, but that was soon about to change…
First, Danks got one that the batsman nicked to Sam Ford at ‘keeper – with the batsman duly walking; a nice display of sportsmanship – as his spell began to ratchet up. From the other end, Thomas soon found that probing length outside off and was in the wickets too, claiming the other opener courtesy of a fine diving catch by Drew Smith at backward point – eerily reminiscent of a catch off the same bowler on Smith’s debut.
With two new batsmen in, the Ramblas – having looked like they couldn’t buy a wicket – were now very much back in the game.
Thomas continued and soon struck in a double-wicket maiden; the first caught high above his head at gully by Smith, the second a smart take in the covers by Ahsan Haji. Then, in the first over after drinks, Danks banged in a short one that the batsman flung his bat at only for it to loop high over his – and the ‘keeper’s (Michael Cooper now behind the stumps) – head… fortunately, the safe hands of Skipper Stocks claimed the catch at the second attempt to leave the hosts five down.
With the big-hitting Overy still in, the Ramblas knew that there was still plenty of work to be done to ensure they were left with a chaseable target.
Replacing Thomas from the motorway end was Dacre – replete with fresh bird crap on his cap. And that certainly proved lucky, as his first ball spat up off the ground to the batsman’s top edge and the WicketCooper(TM) took a smart, infeasibly athletic diving one-handed catch having fumbled the first attempt.
At the other end, Haji was again in fine form, firing the ball down on a good length and rarely giving an inch. His reward soon came, the job finished off in the field by the safe hands of Loughlin.
Having endured a torrid start to the innings, the Ramblas fielding standards never dropped and that was epitomised once more by Smith, striking with a direct hit as the hosts sought a quick single.
On a hat-trick from his previous game, Peter Ford came on for a solitary over and was unlucky not to claim that prized wicket, as one fizzed through the hands of brother Sam fielding close in. With that, it was left to Dacre to mop up the remaining wickets, claiming the scalp of Overy thanks to a looping catch at slip by Stocks and then finishing the job thanks to a low catch on the run by Thomas.
That meant the hosts finished all out for 159; a great comeback from the Ramblas given Farningham were 86 without loss at one stage.
After enjoying a tea to match our own, it was into bat for the Ramblas.
Now, the following is a basically a reprisal of what happened in the previous game against Bickley Park. So if you want to save yourself time, just read that match report and check out this week’s scorecard on Play Cricket. However, if you want a new twist on an old tale, do read on…
Again, there was a dearth of batsmen for the visitors, but looking to ensure there was a quicker start to the Ramblas innings, Stocks and Sam Ford opened up and concentrated on steady accumulation until Ford toe-ended a short ball to mid-wicket for 10 in the fifth over.
That brought in Smith who was in no mood to hang about, testing his skipper’s aching quad with a quick single and finding the boundary often to race to 21 before being caught going for one too many. Despite the lack of genuine batting to come, the Ramblas were now less than 120 from their target with 26 overs still to come.
Cooper was in next and looked sharp from the off, unlucky not to get off the mark with a couple of smart shots before getting a single. However, his innings was abruptly ended by something of a kamikaze call from his captain, run out despite the most despairing of dives.
At drinks, the visitors were 69/4, as Haji joined his skipper looking to take it to the bowlers as the required run-rate crept up to five an over. Haji looked in as fine fettle with the bat as he did the ball, striking confidently, despite seeing his captain given out LBW… the dismissal that didn’t quite open the floodgates, but certainly had them ready to burst.
A quickfire 17 from Loughlin briefly got the visitors’ hopes up, but the Ramblas soon crumbled like a 20-year-old Oxo cube. Loughlin was caught, Fitch went the same way for nought and then Haji was bowled to leave just the genuine tail-enders.
Danks was skittled, likewise Peter Ford and Dacre – not before the latter had struck a neat four to get off the mark. That left Thomas the not-out batsmen as the Ramblas finished on a fairly pathetic 83.
It was another fine all-round performance in the field, made even more impressive by the start the hosts had made, but again a lack of quality in the batting let down the Ramblas. On the plus side, it was a top-notch tea (one Mr Parrett will be most disappointed to have missed out) and next week gives the Ramblas a chance to make amends against old friends/foes* (*delete as appropriate) Regents Park Originals.
Ramblas MVP: An acknowledging nod must go to the persistent line and length of Ian Dacre which garnered three deserved wickets and, sod it, the three wickets and catch for an improving Chris Thomas, but this week’s accolade goes to Drew Smith who took two impressive catches and an equally impressive run out, as well as top-scoring with the bat.