Following last week’s victory over Sherwood CC, the Kent Ramblas went into the away fixture against Oakhill Taverners with a chance of recording a tenth, that’s right, tenth victory of the season.
The weather was set fair, the ground was a picture and for the first time in recent memory, there was no selection headaches for the skipper. Tom Danks and Mark Loughlin both returned to the side after holidays as Geoff Parrett and Chris Thomas were rested ahead of the tour to ensure they were fully fit for the task ahead.
Skipper Stocks won the toss to the shock of his team mates and, upon hearing that the opposition may have parachuted in some Saturday league players, elected to bowl first. Opening the bowling for the Ramblas were Loughlin and Ian Dacre, and the away team didn’t have to wait long for their first wicket. In only the second ball of the game, the opener Eadington edged one behind and the ball cannoned off the knee of T. Danks at first slip and looped up into the hands of ‘keeper Alex Danks. The applause was somewhat muted as the players checked on T. Danks, whose crumpled figure showed the perils of fielding in the slips…
Whilst T. Danks headed to the sidelines to tend to his knee, the next Oakhill batsman Chute rocked up to the crease. And he was in no mood to hang around, doling out fours and sixes like they were going out of fashion. His knock of 40 was finally ended by Dacre, whose slow (and slightly short and wide) delivery outfoxed the batsmen, who could only edge it to the safe hands of the recovered T. Danks at first slip. Loughlin then soon got his second wicket of the day, clean bowling May for 13.
The opening bowlers made way for Steve Fitch and Doug Danks, with the latter on a mission to overtake Loughlin atop the wicket-taking table.
Both bowlers bowled well as they attempted to contain Oakhill’s middle order hitters. D. Danks claimed his first wicket thanks to a smart catch from Peter Ford at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Grayson for 20. He then followed that up three balls later, with a bamboozling delivery to clean bowl Kiddle for a duck.
P. Ford replaced D. Danks, whilst Fitch carried on his attempts to dislodge the dangerman Davis, with the bowler finally making the breakthrough in his fifth over, clean bowling him for 62. Fitch was a combination of elated, furious and pumped up; a great place to be in as a bowler, but not as good for the recipients of his GBH-level high fives.
That clearly got the juice flowing, as Fitch got his second wicket in his final over, seeing Barnes caught in the deep by Loughlin for 15.
R. Ford then joined P. Ford in the bowling attack, but it was the latter to get the first Ford wicket, clean bowling Ayres for 11 with a beaut of a delivery that nipped back in off the seam. Despite bowling well, R. Ford was being given short shrift by the Oakhill tail enders, but finally got his reward thanks to a fantastic one handed catch at slip by T. Danks.
With one wicket left, Stocks brought on Sam Ford for the final few overs and he got his reward when Hudson became T. Danks third victim at first slip. Oakhill were all out for 243 and the Ramblas knew that this was going to be a tough ask to chase down.
Bank holiday blues…
With such a big target to chase, the Ramblas tucked into an excellent tea, served in a delightful, GBBO-esque marquee. Suitably energised and refreshed, A. Danks and Michael Cooper were tasked with opening the batting and getting the Ramblas off to a flyer.
Oakhill Taverners however, were in no mood to give the Ramblas a sniff, electing to open the bowling with their Saturday league openers. This meant the Ramblas’ run chase got off to the worst possible start when A. Danks was cleaned bowled by Chute from the first ball of the innings.
T. Danks replaced his younger sibling at the crease and he and Cooper attempted to steady the ship and see off the openers. The latter did his best to deal with the other opening bowler Maybe, before being caught by May for a hard fought, but ultimately fruitless, 22-ball duck.
In true Ramblas fashion, T. Danks was out shortly afterwards, trapped LBW for eight by the bowling of Chute, much to his consternation.
With the Ramblas struggling at 10-3, S. Ford and Skipper Stocks were the next duo at the crease. And no sooner had S. Ford arrived, than he was walking back to the hutch, cleaned bowled by Chute for three.
Stocks was looking good at the crease; a couple of glorious boundaries proof that his thumb injury was long behind him. Sadly, he couldn’t kick on from his early promise, as he was caught of the bowling of Hudson for 12.
P. Ford and R. Ford were the next men up, although R. Ford’s tenure at the crease was to last just eight balls before he was dismissed by King for two. P. Ford was his usual swashbuckling self, reaching 12 before he was clean bowled by Hudson.
With wickets tumbling with alarming regularity, Loughlin was the only man to keep the bowlers at bay, with a fine counter-attacking batting performance. His combination of big boundaries and whippet-like running between the wickets saw him race to 50 off just 38 balls, as he notched up a much deserved half-century.
The 39th ball was to be his undoing, though, as he was trapped LBW by May.
The game may have been over but that didn’t stop the tail from having some fun.
D. Danks and Fitch both hit glorious boundaries, before being dismissed for six and nine respectively. And keen to end his unenviable record of not scoring a run in over a year, Dacre rocked up to the crease with Mongoose in hand. The crowd didn’t have to wait long to see Dacre get amongst the runs, creaming an on drive for four. His eight-ball, 11-run cameo was a joy to watch and he walked of the crease at the end of the game to rapturous applause.
The Ramblas may have lost by 107 runs, but it was still a good performance against a superior opponent and the team could go into their tour with some definite positives.
Ramblas MVP: Shout outs to Ian Dacre for notching his first runs of the season with a glorious 11*, Doug Danks for his bowling figures of 2-30 and Tom Danks, the one-man slip cordon. But the MVP award goes to Mark Loughlin, whose figures of 2-28 with the ball and 50 with the bat helped the scorecard look a little less dire.