Having got back to winning ways last week, away to Chevening, this week saw the Kent Ramblas return to HQ and take on the familiar – and friendly – faces of Regents Park Originals.
With captain and vice captain nursing broken digits, Sam Ford – on his 50th appearance – took the Ramblas helm, while Chris Thomas, Peter Ford, Ian Dacre and Rich Ford returning to the fray. Visiting skipper Adam Roberts won the toss and opted to bowl first in an attempt to restrict the Ramblas to a chaseable target.
That saw S. Ford and older brother Peter Ford open the batting for the Ramblas – the former watchful at first, the latter quickly into his stride to find the boundary and quickly put the pressure on the bowlers. Indeed, P. Ford led something of a charmed life, with three presentable chances going begging in the field before he chased after a wide one and edged behind to be well caught for a 21-ball 26. It really was a family affair here, with the two batsmen facing another pair of siblings in bowler and wicketkeeper.
A breakthrough such as that was just what the doctor ordered for the visitors, as the only cricketer to turn up every week without a bag – Tom Danks – ambled to the crease. The new partnership were quickly into their stride, squeezing the field with perfect placement and crossing the boundary rope with regularity. S. Ford made it a pair of personal 50s for the day, notching a fine half-century on his milestone appearance before looking to accelerate even more.
However, the skipper for the day couldn’t convert that fine 50 into a century, falling for an excellent 71-ball 70, caught by previous Ramblas ringer, Chris Lethbridge.
The Ramblas’ second fraternal pairing were now at the crease, with Alex Danks joining older brother Tom and looking to build on his fine performance with the bat last week. And that he did, harrying through where necessary and watchful, too, while at the other end, T. Danks became the second Rambla of the day to pass 50, departing shortly after for a cracking 53-ball 52 to leave the Ramblas on 178 in the 27th over.
Dacre – ready to face some very familiar foes – was next in line as he desperately sought his first run of the season… alas, a three-ball stay was ended with his stumps splayed and the Mongoose largely unused.
In an attempt to accelerate the innings, Geoff Parrett was brought in at six, yet he could only score a solitary run before being caught by a delivery that many Ramblas were expecting to be called a no-ball. Unfortunately, for the batsman, at least, there was no signal from the umpires and he was forced to traipse off, bringing in Rich Ford. A. Danks finally found a willing partner with the new batsman, as R. Ford swiftly got in amongst it and was his usual busy self, helping A. Danks to stretch the field.
However, a five-run stay by R. Ford was ended by an LBW shout, which brought in Thomas, as he and A. Danks looked to reprise their 2015 Partnership of the Year. Alas, the was to be no repeat of that glorious failure, as Thomas – having hit a trademark leg side boundary – was bowled by a peach for seven, crossing paths with new man Doug Danks with the score on 212 in the 34th over.
The father and son pair were in imperious form, running well and finding the boundary regularly to register a 50-run partnership and A. Danks hitting his first Ramblas half-century – courtesy of a big six – in the final over to leave the hosts 268/7 from their 40 overs, A. Danks 51 not out, and D. Danks returning with a career-best 21.
A splendid tea courtesy of the High Duchess of Teas Ruth Parrett, Tea Maestro Sheena Bulsara and Sandwich Spreader of the Year 2014-2016 James Webb enabled everyone to take some respite form what was turning into a gloriously sunny Sunday, while also giving the teams the chance to see Andy Murray clinch his second Wimbledon title. Well done, Muzza!
But the real sporting interest remained in West Wickham, as Regents Park headed out to chase down a tricky looking total.
Having been the only two Ramblas not to get a bat, and both in fine form with the ball, Steve Fitch and Mark Loughlin were tasked with opening the bowling for the hosts. In a rarity for the Ramblas, it was up the hill that proceedings began and Fitch showed that to be a fine decision, taking a wicket in his second over, as he cut one back into the stumps. From the other end, Loughlin was unerring with his accuracy, consistently beating the bat and also seeing an edge fall just short of the slip cordon. With some serious pace to contend with, the batsmen were just grateful to get to the end of the over unscathed and wicket in tact.
Meanwhile, Fitch was quietly going about his business, putting possibly his best spell of the season, with a full length and that just outside-of-off line proving difficult to get away. His second victim duly arrived, again clattering the stumps via pad and bat, before notching up his third wicket of the day courtesy of an excellent catch on the run by Parrett, who had an on-rushing Dacre to contend with.
At 39/3, the visitors’ task was looking all the harder now. However, the batting ace up their sleeve – and another temporary Rambla – Quereshi was in and already smiting the ball to all corners.
Replacing Loughlin and Fitch were Thomas and Dacre, with Thomas also putting in his best showing with the cherry this year, swinging the ball as he maintained a steady line and length. Having seen some tough half-chances go begging, he got his reward courtesy of a good juggling catch by S. Ford at cover. Coming in from the Gardens End, Dacre was also in fine fettle, continuing his run of polite LBW inquiries and getting the (well, his) prized wicket of Riley with a more vociferous shout for leg before.
With Quereshi still hitting sixes for fun and trying to farm the strike as best he could, the Ramblas knew their work was far from done. However, his excellent 43-ball innings of 75 came to an end as Thomas had him caught on the fine leg boundary by T. Danks – albeit off a delivery that more than one player thought could have been called a no-ball. It was an unfortunate end to a superb showing.
In a display of captain generosity, Dacre was afforded another over after drinks as long-time nemesis/best friend A. Roberts was at the crease. The bowler didn’t let his skipper down, getting the scalp he really wanted as the batsman played extravagantly around a straight one.
It was twin spin next for the Ramblas, with Parrett and D. Danks twirling away from both ends, the former bowling with great guile and flight and unfortunate not to claim a wicket, while his partner in crime got in on the act courtesy of a sharp catch low down to his right in the covers by Thomas.
That left R. Ford to mop up the final two wickets, the first caught superbly by T. Danks one-handed, high to his right, while he brought the innings to an end as he elicited a high, looping edge to Thomas who was backtracking at slip, closing off the Regents Park innings on 140. The scorecard can be found here.
It was a fine all-round Ramblas performance, with everyone contributing in some shape, while the opposition ensured a competitive contest in gorgeous conditions and a convivial atmosphere. That’s two on the spin for the Ramblas, with confidence high going into next week’s game away at Petts Wood.
Ramblas MVP: If ever there’s someone whose job is made harder by such a strong all-round performance, it’s the beleaguered match reporter as he tries to fairly determine the MVP. Captain for the day Sam Ford was excellent with the bat, as were our trio of Danks – Tom, Alex and Doug. Meanwhile, Ian Dacre and Chris Thomas ended with identical figures of 2-24 from their five overs and backed up the solid work with the ball of Mark Loughlin. However, this week’s award goes to Steve Fitch for his 3-30 that ensured the visitors were unable to get in the game.