For the second time in four games, the Kent Ramblas board were forced to work around the clock in order to find a fixture following St Mary Cray Red Dogs’ unfortunate cancellation. Thankfully, the pull of a fine spread (increasingly augmented by more cake) and the hard yards across multiple platforms by the board saw Wimbledon United step up and make the trek over from Surrey to West Wickham.
There were two changes in the Ramblas line-up; with Alex Danks free from injury to make his season début and Pete Ford back in action in place of Ash Harriss and Howard Hardy-King; leaving Sam Ford to take on ‘keeper duties as Skipper Stocks continued his terrible run at the toss and the hosts were invited to take the ball first.
Mark Loughlin opened in tandem with Steve Fitch as the pair probed without success before a gimme of a chance was put down by an anonymous fielder (ahem…) at point off Loughlin’s bowling. Thankfully, it wouldn’t prove too costly, as Loughlin’s next over saw the same batsman depart thanks to a stupendous take by Geoff Parrett at long-off, as he pouched the ball after it hung in the air for an age. An early contender for catch of the season (with some competition from Doug Danks, of course!).
Fitch continued his own good form to bowl tidily for little reward, before the pair were replaced by Alex Danks and Ian Dacre. Building up a head of steam from the Tennis Courts End, the former didn’t look like he’d missed the previous three games as he tormented the batsmen with his eight off the reel. With Patel edging to a half-century, Danks snaffled the batsman LBW before cleaning up his next victim in his next over, as the Ramblas dragged themselves back into the game.
Alas, that only brought in Samfour Khan who would go on to prove something of a thorn in the hosts’ side…
With Dacre starting well too, the Ramblas sensed a swing in momentum – further heightened by Danks claiming his third victim, again LBW. However, the visitors had still comfortably topped 100 as drinks approached.
Danks finished off his sparkling spell just after drinks to end with three for 42, as Chris Thomas took over from Dacre at the Gardens End and Parrett replaced Danks. Having seen Khan already despatch the bad – and even some good – balls, the new bowlers recognised the scale of the task at hand.
A steady start from Thomas got him in the wicket column for the season thanks to a smart take by Dacre, while Parrett again teased and tormented. After that wicket, though, it was largely a case of the pair taking their medicine as boundaries we notched up with alarming regularity.
Despite the scoreboard ticking over at very comfortable rate for the visitors, the bowling and fielding was still largely spot-on from the Ramblas; it was just one of those days where things were slotting into place for the batsmen – especially Khan as he reached his ton.
Tom Danks came on and Loughlin returned to help slow down the run rate, with a couple of run out and stumping shouts getting short shrift from the umpires, before Khan retired to warm applause for a barely plausible 160.
That retirement provoked a jig of joy from the magnificently-bearded Peter Ford who took that into his bowling as he claimed one courtesy of a catch on the off-side by Thomas, with the fielder then finding himself on an unlikely hat-trick, running out the new batsmen with a direct hit on the next ball. A final over flurry Vice Cap’n Cooper flummoxed the batsmen, but the damage had already been done, with Wimbledon finishing on 359 for seven.
Getting off Scot(ch egg) free?
After that shellacking in the field, the Ramblas were very ready to sample the wares laid out in the clubhouse, as Ruth Parrett – Director of Teas, Extraordinaire – made her first appearance of the season. As delightful as ever, and complemented by a fine lemon drizzle cake courtesy of Lucy B, the Ramblas recharged and regrouped ahead of their attempts at reaching a daunting total.
Skipper Stocks went out with new opening partner Sam Ford in search of a solid base that would set the tone for an improbable chase.
Both looked in good nick as they pounced on anything wide and short, yet the former’s lack of mobility meant that it was tough to turn ones into twos. After 14 overs, Ford departed following a great snag by the bowler off his own bowling, having notched up 25.
Tom Danks was in next, looking to continue what has been a superlative start with the bat in a Ramblas shirt. In partnership with his captain, the pair guided the hosts through to drinks without further loss and knew it was now time to kick on – to either give the hosts a sniff of a chance, or to get every one to the Bank Holiday bar that bit quicker.
Danks reached 25 with steady accumulation, before his first big shot brought about his demise as he got caught at deep square leg, having helped his side breach 100 in what was fast becoming a futile chase.
Peter Ford was in next, getting off the mark with a glorious four. Alas, that was as good as it got, departing without adding to his tally thanks to another smart catch in the field.
Vice Cap’n Cooper joined his 50-making Skipper next looking to continue last week’s good form. Having got his eye in, the trademark (ish) Cooper Drive was unleashed and helped nudged the score up before Stocks’s innings came to an end at 71 thanks to a superb one-handed catch.
Fitch came and went in a flash, as he looked to score quickly, before Cooper edged one to the ‘keeper having scored another good 14. That left Thomas (six) and Dacre (one) as the not-out batsmen with the hosts closing on 177 for six – some 183 runs shy of victory. The finer details – in the form of a scorecard – are here on Play Cricket.
Much like the last-minute arrangement of the Pecos XI game, this was something of an uneven contest, yet the margin of victory didn’t necessarily do justice to the largely steady bowling and consistent work in the field. In the end, if someone can retire on 160 at this level, you’re going to have to do something pretty special to beat them!
It was another good game played in the right spirit, with fine support from the sidelines and plenty of time to ruminate with a pint post-game. The Ramblas move on to nest week’s home match against neighbours Wickham Park, looking to avenge last year’s defeat in the reverse fixture.
Ramblas MVP: A special note has to go to our Skipper, Jonny Stocks, who – despite battling through illness and injury – managed a fluent 71. However, for a fine display of fast bowling in what was his first appearance for 2015 after an unfortunate injury before the season opener, Alex Danks gets the nod for figures of three for 42 which are even better in the context of the wider score.