In terms of ‘ideal preparation’ for a game of cricket, organising a booze-fueled fundraiser the evening before (with more than half your team present), isn’t probably the smartest of ideas, but when have we ever said the Kent Ramblas are the sharpest tools in the box?
Still, it was a cracking night at sponsor The Baring Hall Hotel, and if there’s a chance to see us in our natural habitat, it was then. And it was preparation of sorts for the game against London City. Er, right?
It was with many a sore head and no little trepidation at the opposition doing laps to warm up, that the Ramblas – having lost the toss – went into bat. Skipper Johnny Stocks and Sam Ford opened up against some steady bowling, getting their eye in and not getting themselves into too much bother as they accumulated where possible.
The pair nicked some quick singles and survived a couple of chances as the innings neared drinks, reaching 80 without loss at the 20-over mark. With a full complement of players available, the intrepid duo knew upping the run rate was going to be key in posting a defendable total, and S.Ford took on the aggressor’s role, as the pair reached 100 before Stocks was bowled by something of a beauty for a well-constructed 25.
That brought in the coughing and spluttering Peter Ford (prognosis: ‘decent’), who wasted no time in reminding us of his batting prowess with a lovely driven four. However, the first of our Ford double acts was cut short at nine, as P.Ford played a straight drive firmly back to the bowler, departing for six.
Vice Cap’n Cooper was the new man in and got off the mark quickly, supporting S.Ford who was opening his arms now – including one glorious driven six to the short boundary. The pair put on 27 before Cooper skied one while on three that was caught at mid-off.
With that dismissal, the third of our Ford triumvirate – Rich – came to the crease looking to reprise his excellent, game-turning partnership with son Sam from last week.
Whereas last week, R.Ford was tentative first off, he scored off the first ball and continued to rotate the strike where possible and, although surviving a couple of fairly straight-forward fumbles in the field, was there to see S.Ford clinch an excellent century; his second for the Kent Ramblas.
Having clinched a 125-ball 115-run innings that secured a Ramblas season best total, S.Ford staggered off the pitch to much applause and appreciation with two overs to go, bringing in the returning Alex Danks. With an eye on quick runs, to boost the team’s total, there was nothing pretty about his four-ball innings that ended with him being bowled for one.
With similarly little time to make too much of an impression, the reluctant batting genius that is Geoff Parrett entered the fray and followed the same course as his predecessor, as the Ramblas looked to edge over 200.
In tandem with R.Ford, the pair added 11 in the last over, Parrett not out on five, R.Ford getting another excellent knock of 31 to help the Ramblas finish on 206.
As the innings seemed to take an age and the clock ticked towards 5pm, the Ramblas – usually so strong and meticulous in the tea arena – decided to rush through the brilliant offering of Mrs C (supplemented by treats from Lucy B) in order to get the game done before work on Monday, as dark clouds began to loom.
Opening the bowling were Mark Loughlin and Chris Thomas, the pair looking to keep things tight but also acutely aware of the drizzle coming down. Powering quickly through their overs (in order to ensure S.Ford’s century made it into the record books), they were unable to build on a solid start as the runs flowed with the regularity of the pints the previous night – the short boundary proving a particularly friendly ally for the City opening batsmen.
The City batsmen were making light work of things, despite the odd play and miss, and the Ramblas total of 206 was suddenly not looking as competitive as it did at the break.
Soon, though, the breakthrough came, as the left-handed opener looked to drive Thomas to the short boundary but could only find the hands of a quite petrified-looking Stocks. Still, the captain never looked like dropping it. One soon became three, as Thomas claimed his second victim courtesy of a rank ball (“Shit gets wickets, mate” in the words of the esteemed Peter Ford) that was caught brilliantly by S.Ford in the covers, while Loughlin got in on the action with an LBW.
Looking to exploit a sticky pitch, the captain opted to take the pace off the ball by bringing on Doug Danks and Parrett. By Parrett’s own admission, he couldn’t quite find his rhythm, but when getting it on the deck at a good length was proving unplayable. From the other end, D.Danks was teasing the big-hitting batsman, with one over particularly tight as it all came together.
Things got a bit tense in the lead up to the innings break, though, as a sublime piece of fielding by Loughlin went unrewarded. A push into the off-side from the bowling of Parrett by the well-set batsman was quickly picked up by our fast bowler who sensed a moment’s hesitation between the batters and arrowed a shy at the stumps, with just one to aim at, and splayed them with – in the view of the Ramblas and some neutral bystanders – the batter comfortably out of his crease. Alas, to much incredulity and consternation from the hosts, the umpire remained unmoved and the batsman remained in.
At drinks, things were looking bleak for the hosts – still smarting form the perceived injustice. With less than a hundred runs required by London City and plenty of batsmen in the hutch, the captain sensed the need to change something up with a double change that saw Chris Hackett – on debut – and Alex Danks come into the attack; the latter having kept brilliantly in the first 20 overs.
A.Danks was in stirring form, starting with a pair of maidens (standard scenes on a night out, too, eh Al?) that let the batsmen know they were still in a contest. Meanwhile, Hackett was also bowling brilliantly, getting the ball on a length and having the batsmen unsure whether to come forward or go back.
The City batters were now content to pinch runs where they could, topped up with the odd boundary, knowing that they were withing sniffing distance of their target.
Things got a little uncomfortable for the visitors, though, as Hackett claimed his first wicket in Ramblas colours, thanks to another fantastic catch by Skipper Stocks – this time clinging onto one that was belted towards him at mid-off. With the scores tied, Hackett made things a little nervier, finally ousting the batsman who survived the run-out call courtesy of a smart catch at head height by Loughlin at mid-on. Having added another 20-25 runs of his own post-run out, the Ramblas couldn’t help but feel it was too little, too late.
And that proved to be, as a dot for the new batsmen was followed by a clip off of leg for four that took the visitors to 210 and to victory.
The scorecard tells the story in numbers and it was funny game to play in from a Ramblas perspective. The 206 scored looked competitive, but there was a nagging sense that another 25-30 runs were gettable and would’ve made it that much more of a contest. That said, the contributions, once more, of Sam and Rich Ford should not be underestimated.
With the ball, the bowling unit was perhaps not as sharp as it has been in a long season, but the chances that were created were confidently held by a field that was largely on song. Again, that run-out non-decision rankles and looked as though it could’ve been pivotal.
Still, onwards and upwards to next week. COYR!
Ramblas MVP: I’m beginning to regret not giving it solely to Rich Ford last week, but the record-breaking century by Sam Ford has to take this week’s acclaim. It proved the bedrock of a solid-looking total and was topped off with a smart catch in the field.