After weeks of athletic toil and competitive contests, Sunday finally saw the event sports fans had been anticipating… yup, that’s right folks, it was the return match in the local derby between the Ramblas and Petts Wood CC.
Having endured a fairly torrid time with eight men against Chevening last week, the Ramblas were up to their full complement for the short trip to the Willett Recreation Ground, with Drew Smith back from injury, Steve Cleverley in for Laurie Stocks, Robin Sorjani returning for his second appearance and Adam Roberts making a belated Ramblas debut.
Continuing his enviable run of wins at the toss (that two-headed coin still doing the trick…), Skipper Stocks opted to bat first – on a pitch he conquered comfortably in tandem with Mark Loughlin last year.
The Skipper and Ash Harriss set about their business on a pitch that was actually playing a few tricks, as a few deliveries died on the batsmen, while the odd full one also spat up.
Having gone about their work steadily, Harriss started to unleash the big guns, before holing out in the deep for 33. Joined by Smith, Stocks was next man out, run out by a smart bit of fielding from the bowler, while Cleverley failed to properly connect with one that took the top edge to loop up to slip.
Loughlin joined Smith, before the latter was bowled attempting a big shot, to bring in Vice Cap’n Cooper – fresh from a fine knock last week. The pair stuck around together for a while, with Loughlin striking beautifully for 25 before being bowled.
Chris Thomas was unable to recreate his previous week’s showing with the bat, departing for one, with Sorjani scoring six before going for one too many shots.
Geoff Parrett joined Cooper in the middle and it was soon time for the now obligatory Parrett Pyrotechnics as he blasted a few sixes to help bump up a run-rate that had become as stodgy as a middle-aged man’s midriff, before getting caught hitting out on 26.
Roberts stepped up next to finally face a ball in a Ramblas shirt, but a big scoop unluckily fell into the mitts of a fielder, leaving last man Fitch (1*) in to support Cooper who was striking out well before falling on 11 for the tenth wicket, taking the Ramblas to 148 all out.
The innings after the one before
So, after a splash of tea and tray of cakes, it was time for the Ramblas to get back into the field and defend a smallish total.
Opting to take the pace off the opening stages, it was down to Thomas and Fitch to seek the early breakthrough – the pair improving on their collective efforts against Chevening as both kept the batsmen fairly in check, with the latter unlucky not to claim a scalp following a hearty caught behind appeal.
After a solid 10 opening overs, Stocks turned to his pacemen – Loughlin and Sorjani – in search of an all-important wicket. However, there was still no scalp for the bowlers to celebrate, as inside edges narrowly missed the stumps, run-out chances came and went, while balls continued to evade fielders.
With no wickets down at drinks, the hosts looked well set, needing around 80 from the final 20 overs. The Ramblas, though, knew that they were capable of blitzing a team out for around that total, having done so against Farningham and Wickham Park.
There was finally something for the visitors to celebrate as Parrett tempted the big-hitting Mitchell into a pull that was expertly – if a little nervously – snaffled at Cow Corner by Loughlin.
The hosts were still very much in the driving seat, but could this swing the momentum towards the Ramblas? Alas, not so much…
Parrett bowled a sweet six-over spell that kept things, while Sorjani bowled his eight off the reel and somehow left empty-handed, before the captain called upon the debutant Roberts who kept it fairly sharp in a two-over spell and Loughlin changed ends to elicit the odd edge that once more flew between the fielders.
Petts Wood’s run-rate started to get a little blocked up, but with plenty of men in the hutch, this was still their’s to lose.
With the target now only just in double-figures, and Loughlin bowled out, Thomas and Fitch returned in the feint hope of a Ramblas miracle. A rare maiden for the former ensured the pressure was ramped up a little bit more, while Fitch continued to test the batsmen as they inched towards victory, eventually attained with eight balls to go.
The weather belied the BBC’s (and Drew Smith’s) pessimism to turn into something of a scorcher, while the Ramblas were once more left ruing a mis-paced batting innings and more than their fair share of misfortune in the field. Still, it turned out to be fairly tight contest (despite what the scorecard says) as the Ramblas kept going until the end. The match scorecard can be found on Play Cricket.
Ramblas MVP: There were a few good starts with the bat, but not much more and while the bowlers were certainly unlucky not to add to the one wicket that was taken, it’d be hard to give this week’s award to the attack. In recognition of the top score with the bat – which included some mighty hits – and some sharp work behind the stumps, we’re giving the honour to Ash Harriss.