After last Sunday’s fantastic victory over Locksbottom, the Ramblas were full of confidence heading into their annual pilgrimage to Herne to face St Nicholas & Sarre. And despite some horrendous traffic, the team arrived in high spirits, greeted by fantastic weather. The Ramblas even boasted away support, with Lucy Brewer and Louise O’Connor (soon to be Ford) making the trip down to lend their support. Missing out for the Ramblas were Howard Hardy-King, Chris Thomas and Ash Harris, and in their place came Tom Danks, Pete Ford and Ian Dacre. It was a momentous day for Dacre as the game marked his 50th for the Ramblas, earning his club cap in the process.
Such was the good vibes emanating from the Ramblas, the Skipper even won the toss, elected to field first, unsure what was a par score on this wicket. Alex Danks and Geoff Parrett were asked to open the bowling and both started well. A. Danks was bowling with great pace, and Parrett was keeping the batsmen in check with his flight and guile. Finally, the pressure told and Parrett got the opening wicket. Unable to get the bowler away, opener Macer attempted to clear the ring of fielders but only succeeding in chipping it up the Stocks at mid-off and departed for five.
Opting to give the opening bowlers a rest in the heat, the captain’s change saw Dacre replace A. Danks at one end, while Loughlin took over from Parrett at the other. Dacre was searching for a wicket to celebrate his 50th appearance but despite his best efforts was unable to make the breakthrough. Loughlin however had no such problem, striking with his third ball to dismiss Manning-Wade for eight. Loughlin squeezed an extra yard of pace and Manning-Wade could only feather it to ‘keeper Sam Ford. Loughlin was the epitome of economical in his spell, conceding only nine runs from his six overs.
Sadly for the Ramblas, they were unable to capitalise on their early breakthroughs, as opener Perez and then Shepherd helped St Nicholas & Sarre rebuild after the first drinks break. Doug Danks and Steve Fitch replaced Dacre and Loughlin and despite their fair share of good deliveries, every bad one was dispatched for a boundary. The pair managed to put on a 111-run partnership before Perez was run out for 77. Shepherd called for a quick single, but he clearly didn’t understand the awesome might of A. Danks’s rocket arm, who hurled the ball in from short third man and dismantled the stumps.
After that much-needed wicket, Stocks brought back A. Danks for a second spell to capitalise on the breakthrough. And the skipper didn’t have too long for Danks to come up with the goods, claiming the scalp of Shepherd for 51. Some shrewd field positioning from Pete Ford, taking himself out of first slip and sticking Tom Danks in his place, saw the latter take the catch.
With Tom and Alex Danks bowling in tandem, the batsmen were held in check thanks to fine bowling from the pair and A. Danks got his second wicket of the match, clean bowling Searchfield for 2. Pete Ford was brought on to bowl the final over, with the task of keeping the hosts under 200. And he did not let his side down, conceding only three runs from the over and grabbing a wicket with the last ball of the match. A top edge from the skipper Tickle looked to be sailing over the keeper’s head but S. Ford took an athletic, diving catch to dismiss him for 34.
The Ramblas left the field and headed for the shade to cool down before starting the unenviable task of chasing 197 for the win.
Making runs while the sun shines
An excellent tea was devoured by the away side, looking to give themselves an energy boost as they headed out to bat. Skipper Stocks opened the batting with S. Ford and set about setting a steady platform for the run chase and 18 runs were on the board before the first wicket fell. Stocks went for four, a victim of a good caught and bowled by Whitling. T. Danks walked to the crease, no doubt targeting a repeat of his partnership with S. Ford at the same ground last season. And the pair looked in fine fettle, chipping away at the target thanks to a combination of some lovely stroke play and smart running.
S. Ford was in particularly strong form and showed little sign of fatigue after ‘keeping for 40 overs. Sitting on 49, S. Ford scampered for a quick single that left T. Danks struggling to make his ground. Luckily for Tom, Sam and all the Ramblas, T. Danks made his ground and the crowd applauded Sam’s half-century. The partnership finally ended, for 67 runs, when T. Danks was bowled for a hard fought 20. Cooper was the next man in, tasked with supporting S. Ford as he looked to kick on. The incumbent batter kept up his end of the bargain, taking 15 off the next over, whereas Cooper could not quite do his bit. Cooper’s struggles at the ground continued, clean bowled for a duck by ball that stayed low.
P. Ford joined his brother and they both had one thing on their minds – quick runs. P. Ford raced to 11, in part thanks to a mahoosive six over cow corner, before popping one up to the fielder at point. Fitch came in but couldn’t repeat his heroics from last week, trapped LBW by Whitling for two. Parrett, boosted by his performance with the ball, was ready to join the party. After the obligatory first ball block, Parrett larruped the next ball for a huge six, perfectly setting the tone for his innings. However, just as Parrett was in the groove, time and the heat finally took its toll on S. Ford. Mistiming a shot, Foster claimed the prize wicket and S. Ford went for 79.
Loughlin and Parrett wrestled control back from the hosts, with Parrett showing the kind of hitting that will have him gracing the IPL next season. Parrett’s highlight reel of an innings ended at 37 (off just 25 balls), caught off the bowling of Macer as he attempted one big hit too many.
When Parrett departed, the Ramblas required 20 runs to claim victory. Despite the relatively modest run rate required, they knew that this was no easy chase given the lack of wickets in hand and an ever deteriorating pitch. This was proven when Dacre was bowled first ball, the mighty Mongoose no match for a full pitched delivery. A. Danks then joined Loughlin and the pair looked to chase down the remaining runs.
With 10 runs required from the last two overs, a quick single reduced the target to single figures.
But alas it wasn’t meant to be as first A. Danks was trapped LBW for four, quickly followed by his father Doug, who was bowled first ball. And with the final wicket, the Ramblas fell eight agonising runs short of victory. Bugger… The scorecard of an epic, sun-kissed game can be found here, on Play Cricket.
It was a fantastic effort from everyone involved, and to keep up the energy levels as the Ramblas did in the heat was an epic feat in itself. And despite falling just short, the visitors can be take a lot of confidence as they face another familiar foe, Petts Wood, next week.
Ramblas MVP: Honourable mentions to Geoff Parrett for his tight bowling spell and blistering cameo with the bat, as well as Alex Danks and Mark Loughlin for some excellent spells of pace bowling. However, with two smart catches and his so-close-to-being-a-match-winning innings of 79, this week’s MVP award goes to Sam Ford.