Following on from two strong performances (and victories) in the previous two weeks, the Ramblas were in buoyant mood as they welcomed the ever-friendly London Saints to the cauldron at Ex-Blues. However, a seemingly endless rain shower did its best to dampen everyone’s spirits until the cricketing gods intervened and the game was on, albeit reduced to a 35-over contest.
Players were then forced to tear themselves away from the hockey on the TV and get ready for game time.
Once again the Ramblas boasted another strong side, with Doug Danks and Howard Hardy-King being replaced by Steve Fitch and Ash Harriss. It’s the sort of squad rotation that would have Rafa Benitez grinning like a Cheshire cat. Winning the toss for only the second time all season, skipper Stocks elected to bat and he and Ash Harriss opened the innings looking to set a good platform for the team to build on.
Whilst Stocks was struggling with his timing early doors, Harriss was playing with his usual attacking instinct. Quick singles and a smattering of boundaries were very much the order of the first 10 overs. With the opener bowlers Grimes and McIntyre seen off, Harriss was keen to take the attack the new bowlers straight away. However, he misjudged a quicker delivery from Nanton and was clean bowled for a rapid 30.
The dismissal of Harriss saw Parrett come to the crease at three, a huge promotion for the all-rounder.
Whilst the naysayers may have wondered if such a rapid ascent up the batting order may have given him vertigo, the Ramblas knew something special was on the cards. And boy were they right. Parrett took a couple of balls to compose himself, including a customary hop-forward defensive, then decided to unleash hell on the poor, unsuspecting bowlers. As Stocks rotated the strike, Parrett heaved the ball to all parts, reaching his 50 off just 24 balls.
But that was just the start for Parrett, clearly being influenced by England’s new ODI philosophy, as he continued to hit bigger and better boundaries. The most impressive of the lot was a pull shot that cleared the farthest boundary for a huge maximum. In a fitting finish to his innings, Parrett reached his maiden century with another six and retired, much to the relief of the bowlers. His innings may have only lasted 45 balls, but it was an innings for the ages.
The relief was short lived for London Saints as Tom Danks strode to the crease and showed he was in the mood to follow Parrett’s lofty strike rate, initially dealing in his usual flurry of singles, before opening up his arms and finding the boundary at will, reaching his fifty in quick time.
Stocks was next man out, bowled for a stoic 53. This brought Peter Ford to the crease without much time to make his mark but he ably supported Danks. Danks amassed 88 off just 39 balls before being clean bowled going for an elaborate reverse-sweep.. thta was customarily dissected in the dressing room post-game.
With only four balls to work his magic, Cooper managed a quick single as the Ramblas finished on 295. An imposing total in 35 overs and one which the Ramblas were confident of defending.
Another home game, another epic Ramblas tea was prepared by Ruth Parrett, with more baked treats courtesy of the Ramblas’ very own Mary Berry, Lucy Brewer. Doug Danks had put his order in for cake this week, so we were treated to a Victoria sponge.
Due to the size of the feast on offer, tea was slightly longer than scheduled, which may explain the sluggishness of the Ramblas in the field for the first few overs.
Opening the bowling were Alex Danks, fresh off his hat-trick last week, and Cooper, fresh off his one-over spell against Wimbledon United a month earlier. Whilst A.Danks was causing the batsmen problems, Cooper was doing his best to help them out with a few (too many) loose deliveries. Cooper had a chance to get the opening wicket but couldn’t hold onto a tough caught and bowled chance.
Sadly London Saints’ opening bat Griffiths had to retire on 35 with a hamstring injury but the new man at the crease, Mayhew, didn’t last long as he was given out LBW off the bowling of A.Danks for one. Dacre replaced Cooper and was in amongst the wickets early doors, T. Danks taking a regulation slip catch to dismiss Shadick for a duck and then Fitch taking an easy catch sneaking in from silly point to snatch one from the mitts of Cooper that saw Smith also dismissed for a duck.
Fitch and Thomas replaced Danks and Dacre respectively, and both carried on in the same strong form as their predecessors. Thomas was the first of the pair to get amongst the wickets, taking a sharp caught and bowled chance to dismiss namesake Thomas for five. He then got his second wicket of the match, bowling Pearce for two with a fine delivery. The wicket was Thomas’s 50th for the Ramblas, only the second player to reach that milestone.
Fitch got his only wicket of the match when G Jones mistimed his shot and top edged it into the waiting hands of the bowler. Amongst all the wickets, London Saints opener A Jones resiliently made his way to 57 before being given out LBW off the bowling of Thomas.
With two new batsmen at the crease, London Saints’ Nanton was in no mood to make it easy for the Ramblas, smashing the first ball he faced for six and playing aggressively. P.Ford and Cooper were brought back to finish the game off. Despite being on the receiving end of some of Nanton’s hitting, P.Ford finally got his man as Nanton danced down the wicket, only to be stumped by Sam Ford. P.Ford also picked up the final wicket as McIntyre popped one up to the man of the hour Parrett at short cover. The scorecard can be found on Play Cricket.
It was a spirited effort by the London Saints as they scored 176, especially in the face of such a daunting figure that they had to chase. A good game played in the right spirit and a win that takes the Ramblas winning streak to three matches. Now let’s just hope that we can get 11 players for the Chevening game…
Ramblas MVP: There was some fine bowling, with Chris Thomas reaching 50 Ramblas wickets, and an impressive knock of 88 from Tom Danks but there can only be one MVP, Geoff Parrett. 100 off 45 balls, enough said.