After last week’s heart-breaking four-run defeat to Chevening, the Ramblas headed back to the home comforts of West Wickham to welcome nine-person Priory CC, once more with one eye on the weather as showers threatened to – literally – dampen the hopes and dreams of all concerned.
However, the rain stayed away and the 40-over game was on. Two changes to the line-up couldn’t stop home skipper Jonny Stocks from losing yet another toss, Priory opting to take a bat on what must surely be the farthest pitch the Ramblas have played on at Ex-Blues.
Opening up the bowling were last week’s batting nearly men, Alex Danks and Chris Thomas, the former finding the batsmen’s edge early on as he showed some great wheels, while the latter struck in his first over, tempting the left-handed opener into chasing a wideish delivery that was caught with great agility and athleticism at gully by Doug Danks. Thomas soon made it two, thanks to the safe hands of the late-arriving Steve Fitch who held on well to claim his tenth catch of the season.
A.Danks maintained his pace well, but the batsmen were adept at finding the boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the bowler’s misfortune at not claiming a wicket was soon compounded by another hand injury as he made a smart stop in the field. Unable to continue, that meant the Ramblas had to plug the gaps in the field, as Fitch and D.Danks came into the bowling attack.
Fitch was again in fine fettle, teasing the driving batsmen outside of off-stump, before getting his reward, as Thomas returned the favour to take a sharp low catch from a fierce drive. The very next ball saw Fitch claim his second with his now customary caught and bowled. Alas, the bowler got a bit excited with the hat-trick ball that was more turd than triumph.
Still, that had the visitors four down and the Ramblas sniffing blood. However, they were soon in need of smelling salts, as opener Robbins Snr and new man Thompson set about dismantling the bowling attack, both passing 50 despite he best efforts of a tiring field. The returning Tom Danks joined the attack in tandem with Sam Ford, yet neither were able to make the much-needed breakthrough despite some cracking deliveries and a couple of close stumping chances for stand-in ‘keeper Dave Gambie.
Peter Ford came on for a three-over spell that proved to be a hiding to nothing for his slow turners, as the Ramblas desperately sought something different to make the batsmen think. The bowler got his reward with the last ball of his final over, with one that kept (very) low and befuddled Robbins Snr as he departed for 103.
Thompson was soon a fellow centurion, before Thomas’s final ball in his seventh over saw the on-rushing batsman stumped and the visitors declare on 300.
With a stellar stand-in tea courtesy of the skipper’s mum, it was left to him and S.Ford to set the platform for what was a daunting run-chase. Yet, with a strong batting line-up, there was still hope the Ramblas could make a good fist of it.
Alas, the best-laid plans proved to be made on a fairly brittle platform (and optimism), as Stocks was caught looking to up the run-rate for nine, while S.Ford departed for a steady 29 when he nicked one behind.
T.Danks and Michael Cooper were the new men in, but the latter also nicked behind for one to Beharie, with Steve Cleverley and then Gambie both being castled by the same bowler. With five down, things were looking bleak for the hosts – with the darkening clouds doing little to help matters.
Thankfully, a ray of light came in the form of new batsman Peter “I’m Like A Mouse” Ford. Starting well in tandem with T.Danks, he was comfortably off the mark with some cracking cover drives and the pair’s running kept the fielders honest. An LBW decision (who’d be an umpire, eh?) brought about the demise of T.Danks for 16, though, just as the pair looked settled.
On a high from the previous week’s showing, and in the knowledge that his team-mate was clearly in fine form, Thomas was in next. And he had a front row seat to two quite glorious sixes from P.Ford who was seeing it like a beach ball. Alas, Thomas couldn’t stick around to support P.Ford, out hit wicket for two as he took on the bowling of Beharie.
Fitch came out next, with his orders clear – stay around and let P.Ford continue to work his magic. The new batsman, despite taking a nasty blow on his previously-broken thumb, did just that, seeing out the good balls and putting away anything bad, as well as ensuring his partner was seeing plenty of the strike as P.Ford moved to 48. However, he couldn’t see P.Ford through to his 50, gloving one to the ‘keeper and walking in a fine show of sportsmanship.
That left A.Danks to bravely squeeze his knackered hand into a batting glove and head out in an effort to see his old mate through to what would be a fantastic, well-received Ramblas half-century.
Nicking a single to give P.Ford the strike, the Bearded Batsman moved to 49 and then showed no nerves as he claimed another single to race through for a brilliant 50 that was met with raucous cheers from everyone in Ramblas colours.
Not looking to rest on their laurels, the pair continued apace, before P.Ford departed for a 78 that displayed great timing, lusty strikes and smart running. That left A.Danks not out five and the Ramblas closing total some way off their target on 177 all out. The scorecard of the game played again in the right spirit, is on Play Cricket.
Despite a strong start in their bowling effort, the Ramblas were unable to break the key partnership of Robbins and Thompson, while the batting reply never really got going. However, the result fades in the background, as every Rambla beamed with pride at the superb innings by Peter Ford.
Ramblas MVP: As stated above, the sheer collective joy at seeing one of their own perform so well – and continue what has been a fine run of recent form – underlines what this team is really about. There was absolutely no doubt about this week’s recipient – despite some post-match joshing – of course, it’s Peter Ford.