After a surprisingly listless performance last week, the Ramblas were keen to right wrongs and put on a show in front of a home crowd for the final time this season. With a host of first team regulars unavailable for selection, Rich Ford came in to make his sixth appearance of the season along with Neil Peters earning a second cap and Ben Butcher, who was making his Ramblas debut. The Ramblas were a man light but were in good spirits and ready for action.
Jonny Stocks returned to captaincy duties as only he can… by losing the toss. The Ramblas were asked to bat first, with Alex Danks and Pete Ford the preferred opening partnership. A. Danks’s strong form with the bat showed no signs of stopping as he hit two boundaries in the first over. P. Ford also announced his attacking intentions with a mighty maximum over long on with just his second ball. Sadly, his time at the crease ended shortly after, being clean bowled for seven off five balls.
Sam Ford replaced his brother at the crease and whilst initially watchful, soon opened his arms and hit a big six over deep square leg. The ball not only cleared the boundary rope, it also cleared the clubhouse, the fencing and the train tracks. A. Danks and S. Ford kept the run rate ticking over nicely against some very tidy bowling, thanks to a combination of quick running and crunching boundaries. The pair put on 62 before A. Danks was caught in the deep for 40.
Skipper Stocks strode to the crease, hoping to build on his efforts of last week. Stocks was initially watchful, happy to let S. Ford keep the strike as the pair guided the Ramblas to drinks at 110-2. With wickets in hand, Stocks and S. Ford decided that they could afford to be more attacking in their endeavours.
S. Ford ramped up the strike rate as he reached his fifty, to warm applause from his team mates and the pair continued to pile the pressure on the bowlers, with Stocks feeling more and more comfortable as the game progressed.
The visitors were struggling to keep the run rate down and were not helped when S. Ford spooned one up to fielder D. Loader, only to see the fielder drop an absolute dolly at cover. The batsman made Sherwood pay for the error as he soon raced to his third Ramblas century, hitting a lovely mid-wicket boundary to bring up three figures. The crowd rose to their feet to applaud Ford’s efforts and barely had time to sit down and get comfy before they were back up again to celebrate Stocks hitting his second half century of the season.
With Sherwood running out of ideas, and Stocks and S. Ford having plenty left in the tank, the runs piled up and after 40 overs, the Ramblas finished on 262-2. Thanks to a fantastic 183 run partnership between Stocks (64*) and Sam Ford, who set a new Ramblas record for individual score with his 143*, the Ramblas set the visitors an imposing target to chase.
Bowlers to the fore
Despite half the team not being required to bat, that didn’t stop all the Ramblas tucking into another excellent tea from Mrs C, as well as a delicious Victoria Sponge cake from Lucy B. The Ramblas took the field knowing that despite the high score, it was a good wicket to bat on and the game was far from over.
Ian Dacre and Doug Danks opened the bowling, with the former looking dangerous from ball one and the latter eager to steal the lead over Mark Loughlin in the race to 20 wickets for the season. Dacre was getting plenty of movement off the pitch and struck in his third over of the game, trapping the opener D. Loader LBW for 5. The ball gripped in the pitch, came back in to hit the batsman plumb in front, and Dacre had his first wicket in six weeks.
Luckily for both Dacre and the Ramblas, he didn’t have to wait as long for his next wicket. In his very next over, Hill tried one leg side heave too many and was caught at square leg by Peters for 10. Two wickets in two overs saw Dacre take his wicket tally to nine, on the cusp of becoming the seventh Rambla to get 10+ wickets this season.
Never a man to be outdone, D. Danks soon got himself in the wickets column, removing Homer for six. A shorter delivery saw the batsman flick it toward the leg-side boundary but only manged to find Dacre, who took an excellent catch at fine leg. With 12 overs gone and Sherwood three wickets down, D. Danks and Dacre took a well-earned break and were replaced by Butcher and Peters.
Peters struggled in his first two overs, with a few loose deliveries being punished by the in-form opening batsman Webster, but found some rhythm later on in his spell to cause a few issues for batsmen. Butcher was on form from the outset, starting his eight-over spell with five consecutive maidens.
Butcher was denied a wicket in his third over, when Webster appeared to nick the ball to the ‘keeper, and despite a huge appeal in the field, the umpire’s call was not out. He soon got a much deserved wicket an over later, clean bowling Coventry for 32 with a delivery that shot through to take the top of off stump. Butcher finished his spell with extraordinary figures of 8-6-6-1, with only three of the 48 deliveries he bowled going for runs.
R. Ford replaced Peters and assisted Butcher in keeping runs to a minimum and increasing the pressure on the visitors, as well as the run rate. His four-over spell went for just 20 runs and was unlucky not to get a wicket with some excellent deliveries. R. Ford soon made way for P. Ford who was just as miserly and his old man. A mix up between the batsmen, saw Pettit run out thanks to a sharp pick up and throw from S. Ford into the waiting mitts of his brother at the bowler’s end.
P. Ford was joined in the attack by Cooper, bowling for the first time in over a year. Cooper’s knack of taking the pace off and giving the ball plenty of flight caused initial concerns for the bastmen, who couldn’t quite get him away. A few loose balls aside, it was a more than capable return to bowling for the vice captain.
For the final two overs, it was left to the leading lights with the bat, Stocks and S. Ford, to bring an end to proceedings. Both bowlers looked sharp and S. Ford capped off a fine performance trapping Webster LBW for 62.
Sherwood finished on 187-6 and might be a little frustrated that they weren’t able to make a better fist of the chase. But it was a great effort all round from the Ramblas, with everyone contributing with bat and ball in a 75-run victory that saw them notch their ninth win of the season.
Ramblas MVP: Very honourable mentions to both Ben Butcher, whose impressive figures of 8-6-6-1 helped strangle the oppositions run chase, and skipper Johnny Stocks who returned to form with an excellent 64*. But for breaking the Ramblas record for highest individual score with 143*, a wicket and a run out to go with it , the MVP award goes to Sam Ford.