After a wash-out last week against neighbours Wickham Park, it was down to the serene setting of Four Elms in picturesque Kent for the Ramblas, as they looked to get back on track following the pasting they received at the hands of Shooters Hill in their previous game.
The game saw Steve Fitch and Ian Dacre return, and Skipper Stocks remarkably winning the toss and opting to bowl – perhaps wise given the state of one of our premier batsmen…
Opening up were Alex Danks and Dacre who bowled sharply to keep the hosts’ batsmen in check in the formative stages of the match. However, that miserliness couldn’t be replicated by Chris Thomas who was carted for 10 an over in his five-over spell, replacing the steady line and sharp pace of A. Danks from the Playground End.
At the Pavilion End, Mark Loughlin was in fine fettle, reeling off his eight allocated overs in one go, claiming two deserved wickets and causing the batters plenty of strife. First, Michael Cooper took a smart sliding catch at backward point, before Loughlin cleaned out the stumps.
With the Ramblas looking a little undercooked in the field, chances were of a premium and a couple of toughies went begging. Despite the Four Elms batsmen having little trouble finding the gaps, the score was still not entirely getting away from the visitors. However, their chances were further hindered when a steepler of a catch saw A. Danks injure his hand and withdraw from the game.
In the hope of creating chances, Skipper Stocks rang the changes in his attack. Doug Danks bowled with guile against the gobby ‘keeper and was unlucky not to claim a wicket, while Fitch’s bowling got the same treatment as Thomas’s.
In tandem at the end of the innings, Peter Ford and Tom Danks managed to (largely) maintain a level of control not seen by some of their fellow bowlers; the latter claiming a deserved wicket – caught, in fact, by the former. That saw Four Elms close on 247/3 – with the opener getting a creditable century. Given what was probably the loosest all-round performance in the field the Ramblas have produced for some time, things could have been a lot worse…
Thankfully, the spread on offer at tea provided some respite from the hayfever-ridden Ramblas, before Stocks and Sam Ford – again keeping well – headed out to get the chase underway.
S. Ford’s first boundary saw him become the first Rambla to reach 1500 runs and a 27-run opening partnership looked to be just bedding in before Stocks departed, caught, as he looked to keep the Ramblas up with the run rate. That brought in T. Danks who watched from the other end as his long-time partner in crime (not literally. Well, I have my suspicions…) tried some mind games with the hosts’ bowler. Alas, ball bested bat in this instance, with S. Ford being bowled for 16.
Joining the fray was P. Ford who showed intent from the off, and again in tandem with T. Danks stood tall as they looked to wrest control of the game back in the Ramblas favour. Their 40-run partnership was looking to provide the platform for just those heights, before P. Ford got a bit Krankie at not being able to get the ball away and was bowled for an uncharacteristically slow-paced 12.
Cooper was next in, but departed just as quickly to make it a Danks double-bill in the middle, with Doug joining Tom. Some lofty hits and singles saw a 20-run partnership quickly accumulated. Two big sixes by T. Danks got Ramblas hopes up, but three proved to be too tall an order as he was stumped for a superb 47.
D. Danks was next man out, leaving the Ramblas on 110 with 15 overs to go and just three wickets left due to A. Danks’s injury. The lower order would have to scale some never before seen heights to dig the team out of this hole…
Loughlin and Fitch did their best, but the latter fell LBW for five, bringing in Thomas. A streaky one was the best he could conjure up in support of some fine strikes from Loughlin before being bowled by a beaut. With Dacre last man in and continuing his (non-)scoring run, Loughlin was left stranded on a 30-ball 35 and the Ramblas left nursing a 108-run defeat.
Although it was a far from distinguished day, facing a side with at least three league players and yet another opposition batsman finding form at just the wrong time means that the Ramblas can afford to write this off as ‘one of those days’ and seek to put right those wrongs next week back at home against Brasted Invicta – including birthday celebrations for Sam Ford and Steve Fitch.
Ramblas MVP: In all honesty, it was fairly slim pickings, and although the bowling efforts of Alex Danks and fine innings by Tom Danks deserve plaudits, this week’s accolade goes to Mark Loughlin for an excellent all-round performance that saw right overs bowled off the reel to end with figures of 2/31 and a dashing innings of 35 topped off the usual excellence in the field.