For the second successive year, the intrepid Kent Ramblas made their way to Chipstead for the Wimbledon Men’s Final to play the familiar faces of Chevening Amblers.
We’re not sure if there was a mass collective exodus to SW19, but both sides struggled to find players, which left the contest between the hosts’ nine men and the Ramblas’ eight. Winning the toss, Skipper Stocks opted to take the new cherry, with Chevening kindly donating a fielder to help out.
However, with all those holes in the field it was worse than the little boy with his finger in the dyke (no lewd jokes here, please…), so the less said about the bowling efforts, the better, as the hosts notched up 250/2 in their 40 overs. The sole highlight for the Ramblas being a superb catch in the deep by Laurie Stocks… who then somewhat undid his good work by getting himself a bit confuddled as to where he was in relation to the boundary a couple of times; but his sportsmanship in owning up that he was over the line was a delight to see.
After what has become one of the finer teas the Ramblas get to to tuck into (and catching glimpses of Djokovic vs Federer), it was out to bat for the Ramblas.
The aforementioned L. Stocks was bumped up the order to accompany Ash Harriss as opener, and the pair looked in decent enough nick, before Harriss fell to a low full toss that barely kissed the bails off. “That’s the worst dismissal I’ll ever get,” Harriss bemoaned as he returned to the sidelines. And it was hard to disagree.
Coming in at an unaccustomed three, Skipper Stocks was next, putting on a decent partnership with his brother, as they sought out what were still ample gaps in the field.
The younger Stocks – despite carrying a few knocks – looked in good shape as he maintained a steady accumulation of runs. However, he was bowled for 30 by the century-making Fisk just before the drinks break. Having taken the refreshment break one ball early due to the dismissal, the elder Stocks was joined by Geoff Parrett.
The latter wasted no time, striking out confidently to chalk up two huge sixes and – when connecting with the ball – piercing the field with ease. Having belted a fantastic half-century against Eden Park last year, there was an outside shot that, if his eye was in, a rapid innings could give the Ramblas something of a sniff of victory. The pair continued fairly untroubled, perhaps missing out on a few singles, but certainly getting the bowlers and fielders to work.
However, Parrett’s quick-fire 28 came to an end as one final heave was mistimed and the ball crashed into the stumps from Fisk who was surely having one of his finer days in a cricket shirt. That sandwich-fuelled salvo had helped up the scoring rate, but it would still take something special for the Ramblas to get remotely close to their target given their sparsity of players.
Next in the line of fire was Vice Cap’n Cooper, fresh(ish) from his exploits for Ex-Blues the previous day and keen to turn what has been a few good starts of late into runs. He didn’t have long to form a partnership with L. Stocks, though, as the incumbent batsman played around one that turned a touch. Still, it was with a fantastic knock of 31 that he returned to the hutch, continuing his good form of recent weeks.
Joining Cooper was Loughlin, but any hopes the latter could continue the fireworks of Parrett were short-lived, as he chased a wide one that was prodded for an easy catch at short mid-wicket.
That brought in Chris Thomas, desperate to make up for some disastrous bowling figures, but also short of any form with the bat. Whether it was that fourth slice of cake, the new sweatband or a partnership with is brother-from-another-mother we don’t know, but something clicked as he and Cooper chalked up a half-century partnership thanks to smart running and some strong hits.
Cooper finally got the runs his recent form has deserved, playing smartly for his eight before Fisk claimed another wicket LBW. That meant the last man in was Fitch – who had narrowly lost the race to get ready first with Thomas following the dismissal of Loughlin.
He had no intention of hanging around, smashing two fours before offering up a simple chance to the bowler – that man Fisk again! – for a caught and bowled, leaving Thomas stranded on a “career”-high 38 not out and the Ramblas all out for 174.
Head to Play Cricket for the scorecard, with the visitors clawing back some dignity with the bat having endured a fairly torrid time in the field. The trip down to Chipstead continues to be one of the favourites among the Ramblas, and we’re looking forward to a chance of revenge next season.
Ramblas MVP: Alas, there was nothing to write home about with the ball, as the Ramblas were collectively and uncharacteristically sloppy in the field, but the real pluses came from the bat, with good knocks from the Stocks brothers and Cooper, plus a notable personal best for Thomas. However, for looking to up the ante in the middle overs to give the Ramblas a mere whiff of a chance, this week’s award goes to Geoff Parrett.