After a tough month that saw several games called off due to weather and opposition failing to turn up (yes, we’re talking about you, Wilmington CC), the Ramblas finally got a taste of 40-over action as they took on their landlords Ex Blues. And with Ramblas opener/’keeper Ash Harriss returning to his parent club for the day, Sam Ford, Chris Thomas and Laurie Stocks unavailable, the Ramblas had to dip further into their growing talent pool. Luckily, Drew Smith made his long-awaited return to the Ramblas as well as regular ringers Pete Ford and Alex Danks. And rounding off the team were Azzam & Ali, two newbies who had replied to a Gumtree appeal for players a few weeks earlier.
Winning the toss, skipper Johnny Stocks elected to bowl first and the Ramblas took to the field hoping to strike early. Danks and Ali opened the bowling, with the former struggling to find his line bowling to Ex-Blues left-handed opener Keith Collins. The opening pair of Collins and Bates steadily accumulated runs, punishing any bad ball and rotating the strike.
After five overs apiece, Stocks made a change to the bowling attack, Loughlin replacing Danks and Fitch replacing Ali. And the bowling change proved inspired as Loughlin struck early, clean bowling Collins for 15. One wicket soon became two as Fitch got in on the action, knifing one in at Bates who mistimed a drive down the ground, only to be caught by Ali at mid-off for 24.
With both the openers out, it was up to the Ex-Blues middle order to steady the ship, but they hit choppy waters as Loughlin claimed his second wicket in as many overs. Gambie was the victim, scoring just two before Loughlin got the ball to jag back in sharply, dismantling the stumps.
Ash Harriss strode to the crease to help support Ex-Blues skipper Nigel Barrs in the middle and he didn’t take long to make his presence felt. Sadly for Fitch, a valiant attempt to stop one of Harriss’s big hits off his own bowling resulted in him dislocating his thumb and heading off to A&E. It was left to Drew Smith to finish off Stitch’s over both as he and Loughlin saw the Ramblas through to the drinks break with Ex-Blues reaching 83-3.
After the drinks, Harriss and Barrs saw off the final overs of Loughlin then took the attack to the rest of the Ramblas, smiting Parrett for 30 off just two overs and new boy Azzam struggling for his line before finding some nice rhythm later in his overs. Stocks then handed the ball back to his opening bowlers and Danks quickly found his line and length, looking much more dangerous. He finally got his reward in his last over, as Barrs edged one and was sharply taken by stand-in ‘keeper Cooper.
Sadly for Ali, Harriss was set nicely at the crease and his last few overs proved expensive, including a truly glorious maximum down the ground from Cahill Brophy, that not only cleared the ropes, it landed in a different post code. And despite some tidy death bowling for Pete Ford, Ex-Blues posted a very competitive total of 193, with Harriss finishing up on 72*.
Another rubbish Ramblas run chase?
With the promise of a post-match BBQ on the horizon, there was a quick turnaround for the second innings. Although the Ramblas still found time to get through a tray of biscuits before heading out to chase down the required runs.
In Ash Harriss’ absence, Johnny Stocks opened the batting with Alex Danks and after a nervy couple of overs, both players started to feel more relaxed at the crease and the runs soon started to flow. Danks looked in particularly good touch, dispatching the Ex-Blues opening attack of Barham and Brophy for several boundaries as the partnership surpassed the 50 mark.
After seeing off the openers, the partnership was broken on 65, when Danks was clean bowled by Bates for an impressive 30. Sadly Stocks fell shortly afterwards, being bowled by Rich Harriss for 38 but the skipper’s attacking innings helped set a good platform for the team to kick on.
Smith and Ford were the new men at the crease and were tasked with steadying the ship and trying to chip away at the run rate. It proved tough as Bates and Harriss were offering very little for the pair to get away. A couple of boundaries helped alleviate some pressure before Smith succumbed to a rush of blood to the head and was clean bowled by Bates for eight.
With the required run rate increasing, the Ramblas players and fans alike were delighted when Geoff “Primetime” Parrett strode out to the middle. Although Parrett’s innings was short, it was certainly sweet, as he struck 24 off 10 balls (for stat fans, his 10 deliveries were 0, 0, 1, 1, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, W), before being caught at mid-wicket off the bowling of James Dilley.
Ford was then dismissed for a gritty nine, clean bowled by Stuart Dilley, an innings that helped stabilise the run chase after wickets fell around him. Mark Loughlin and Azzam were now at the crease and they helped to keep the scoreboard ticking over before Azzam fell for four, trapped LBW by Stuart Dilley.
Ali joined Loughlin and the pair managed to put on an excellent 20-run partnership before Ali too fell victim to an LBW off Stuart Dilley. Cooper came to the crease with the sole intention of supporting Loughlin as the Ramblas looked to knock off the 20 runs required. Sadly, the Ramblas’ chances took a huge blow as Loughlin was cleaned bowled for 12 off the bowling of the returning Brophy.
With 18 runs required still required off 13 balls and Cooper seemingly out of partners, Fitch, fresh from a trip to A&E and probably still under the influence of large doses of gas and air, chose to pad up. Sadly there was no fairy-tale ending as Fitch was cleaned bowled off the first ball of the final over and the Ramblas were all out for 180.
Despite the 13-run defeat, it was an excellent game against our landlords, played in the true spirit of the game. And the volume of beer drunk/BBQ goods eaten after the game between the two teams was testament to that…
Ramblas MVP: A very honourable mention must go to Steve Fitch for battling back from a dislocated thumb to help the Ramblas run chase at the death. Also, shout outs to Mark Loughlin for his excellent figures of 2-24 and Geoff Parrett for his 10-ball 24. But the MVP award goes to Alex Danks, for his 1-36 with the ball to go with his score of 30 at the top of the innings, which help set up an exciting run chase.