The excitement was palpable as the Kent Ramblas made the short trip to Petts Wood this Sunday. Granted, that excitement was largely driven by rumours of Tom Danks buying a bat of his own (to be premiered next week), but having secured a second consecutive win last week, the game ahead also brought its own thrill.
Once again under the stewardship of Sam Ford in the absence of Messrs Stocks and Cooper, the Ramblas found themselves in a unique position; not that of having nine men (that’s been a fairly common occurrence), but rather that there was only one Rambla from that first season in their midst, in the ungainly shape of Chris Thomas. With numbers thin on the ground, Steve Aldridge and Neil Peters made their Ramblas bows – both part of the extended Ford clan.
Winning the toss, S. Ford opted to bat first, looking to post a good total and keep his bowlers relatively fresh for what would still be a fair amount of toil even in a match reduced to 35 overs per side – and with the hosts also only able to muster nine players, there was sure to be plenty of work to be done for all concerned in the field.
The rejigged batting line-up saw Alex Danks and Peter Ford head out to face the opening bowlers, the pair playing some lovely shots that went unrewarded due to the slow outfield. The expected gaps in the field were expertly found by both to keep the run rate ticking at a run a ball after six overs and a challenging total looking promising. Although the batsmen were ticking along nicely, the wily Wood bowlers were still not to be taken lightly and with the pitch playing its part, the Ramblas duo had to remain watchful.
With the score on 44, P. Ford was bowled by a peach of a ball that pitched outside off yet came back to hit middle and leg. The batsman operated at his usual speedy rate, notching a 19-ball 21 to help get the Ramblas off to a solid start. One of our two new faces, Peters was next in and having confidently seen off a couple of deliveries, got off the mark with a fine two, before being bowled.
That brought T. Danks in to join his brother at the crease with the score 49/2 in the ninth over; a good run-rate, but with the lack of numbers, still precarious in terms of wickets in hand. While A. Danks remained watchful in an attempt to anchor the innings, his elder brother was quickly into his stride, pushing through for singles and turning ones into twos where possible.
The pair continued to play smartly up to drinks in the 20th over with the score at 101/2; with 15 overs to go, the Ramblas were aiming for a total of around 200 – in the hope their younger legs would give them the edge in the field when it came to defending.
There was still plenty of time to go, though, so no need for the Danks double bill to do anything different immediately, again running hard in the increasingly warm conditions and even managing to beat the long grass and find the odd boundary to keep the pressure up.
With the brothers’ partnership on 90, A. Danks was finally dismissed as he looked to up the ante, caught well by Meaton for a fine 51. With T. Danks also notching up his 50, the pair had more than done their job with the score on 139/3 with eight overs to go.
Rich Ford came in next, but didn’t have much time to forge a partnership with T. Danks who went for an excellent 59. That brought in stand-in skipper S. Ford who was intent on powering through for the final stages to post a score that would be beyond Petts Wood. The Ford father and son pairing nicked singles and moved the field around well, before R. Ford was caught looking to go over the field by a stunning one-handed catch by the backtracking Meaton… who rolled down the slope in celebration.
The second of our new recruits, Aldridge, was in next and was off the mark first ball, before hitting a sweet four. Meanwhile, S. Ford continued to wreak havoc, blasting 22 from one over, before seeing his partner well caught, as Aldridge departed for five.
With 13 balls left, it was down to Doug Danks – resplendent in a pink top – to join S. Ford in pushing the Ramblas on, taking them to 209/6 – S. Ford finishing on 48 and D. Danks on four.
Some well-earned grub, and even more desired shade was taken before the teams headed back out, the sun turned up full blast for the Ramblas fielding efforts.
Opening the bowling, Thomas and D. Danks were economical, the former continuing to hit his line and length from last week, and the latter full of confidence from his exploits the previous day for Ex-Blues (although his parking may have left something to be desired…).
That start already had the hosts behind the eight ball, before Thomas got the breakthrough; the opener feathering one behind to A. Danks at wicketkeeper in the ninth over. The over proved pretty eventful, as a caught and bowled opportunity fell just short before an almighty mix-up between the batsman saw a risky two bring about the demise of the new man; A. Danks calmly rolling the ball to the other end for P. Ford – amid his almighty shouts of “BOWLER’S END” – to take off the stumps.
The captain then brought on new boy Aldridge who, despite not having picked up a cherry for at least five years (and asking which part of the crease he had to stay behind), bowled beautifully to maintain the good work of the opening pair. From the other end, S. Ford took the ball for the first time this season to showcase his new action, eliciting more than one edge and further taking the game away from Petts Wood.
Peters was next to have a bowl and didn’t let his new teammates down with a three-over burst that retained the economical edge of the rest of the attack and the captain mixed his options further, bringing in R. Ford for a game-throttling three-over spell of his own. First off, he snaffled the wicket of the hosts’ captain by bowling him and then in his third over, claimed two more, both caught on the move at backward point by Thomas, following a fielding reshuffle by his captain.
That breakthrough saw Thomas and D. Danks come back into the attack, as the Ramblas looked to put the game to bed. Alas, the pair couldn’t muster a wicket, although Thomas did see a catch taken off a no ball before a farcical run-out was generously ignored by the visitors.
The final five overs were shared by T. Danks and P. Ford, both keeping it tight to the end, despite the big heaves and pushes of the Wood batsmen, with the hosts closing on 133 to leave the Ramblas claiming a fairly comprehensive 76-run victory.
As ever, the contest was a fair and friendly one between two sides that know each other well, the batting efforts of the visitors being more than backed up in the field, despite both sides only having nine men.
Ramblas MVP: It’s one of those really tough calls for a match reporter, as everyone contributed. The knocks of Alex Danks, Sam Ford, Tom Danks and Peter Ford cannot be underestimated, nor the bowling of Neil Peters, Steve Aldridge, Doug Danks and Chris Thomas, but for a three-wicket burst that extinguished any hope of the hosts chasing down an imposing total, this week we praise the all-round efforts of Rich Ford.