Following another hard fought win against Petts Wood in their previous match, the Ramblas returned to home comforts as they hosted Chevening Amblers for the first time since 2013. And, in what is a rare feat this season, the Ramblas even managed to get a full XI out…
With Messrs Thomas, Pete Ford, Parrett and Stocks unavailable, new boys Dave Brewer, Dave Green and Ed Gibbs once more helped the Ramblas cause with the aim of maintaining their perfect records. Tom Danks, Steve Fitch and Sam Ford made their returns and Ash Harriss stepped up to complete the team.
Cooper won the toss and elected to bowl first on a pitch that would keep the batsmen on their toes. The skipper kept faith with his potent opening pairing of Mark Loughlin and Doug Danks, with Loughlin’s sizzling (and sadly wicketless) five-over spell proving a microcosm of his luck this season.
D. Danks, though, was faring better in terms of luck and made the breakthrough when Ward tried one big shot too many and found Cooper at deep midwicket, who took a great catch to dismiss the opener. D. Danks only had to wait another two deliveries to get his second wicket of the game, courtesy of a fantastic low catch to his right from Ford at square leg to dismiss Ranacceera.
Deadly Doug then added a run out to his resumé, courtesy of some sterling work from Loughlin. After a sharp stop in the field, Loughlin’s attempt to get the ball back quickly caused confusion amongst the Chevening batsmen and D. Danks rolled the ball to an eager Alex Danks who whipped the bails off.
Ford replaced Loughlin and was as miserly as a Scotsman when it’s his turn to get a round in, conceding only seven runs from his five overs. However, all the action was going on at D. Danks’s end after some suicidal running between the wickets saw Chevening skipper Recaldin run out thanks to a sharp pick up and throw from Loughlin.
The very next ball The Beard Who Is Feared took his third wicket of the game, as a full toss saw Draper caught by Loughlin at square leg for a duck. D. Danks then clean bowled Isaac first ball to give himself a chance to become only the third man to take a Ramblas hat-trick. Alas, the batsman successfully kept out the ball and D. Danks had to be satisfied with match figures of 8-0-51-4.
Fitch replaced D. Danks and nearly got a wicket with his first (legal) delivery when Leppard drilled the ball straight to his partner at the crease, but the bowler couldn’t hang on to the rebound. Luckily for Fitch, he only had to wait another three balls to notch his first wicket of the season when a feint edge was well held by ‘keeper A. Danks.
The score was 85-7 at drinks and whatever Mrs C put in the juice certainly had the desired effect. Gibbs was brought on to replace Ford and, after a few loose deliveries, soon found his rhythm. In the third ball of the over, he clean bowled Lopwer for nine, repeating the trick the very next ball as Manning had his stumps similarly dismantled.
After seeing an earlier chance of a hat-trick go amiss, the team crowded the batsman waiting for chance to be part of Ramblas’ folklore. Gibbs strode in and… wicket! Another full and straight delivery saw the stumps go a flying and the new boy had become the third ever Rambla to take a hat-trick.
Chevening Amblers were all out for 90 thanks to some great bowling and excellent fielding. The Ramblas knew that while the pitch wasn’t the easiest to bat on, the win was theirs for the taking. But hey, when has it ever been that simple for the Ramblas…?
Due to the early finish of the Chevening innings, 10 overs were to be bowled before tea was consumed. And the plan was simple: slow and steady until tea and then refuel and push on for the win. That plan suffered an early setback when T. Danks was dismissed first ball thanks to a shot he described as “one of the worst shots I’ve played in my life”.
Green came in at number three and after a couple of lusty blows, including a glorious drive down the ground for four that gave the fielders cause for concern, was back in the hutch for a brisk six.
Brewer was next man in and looked far more confident and composed than in his debut last week. Sadly, he was unlucky to consistently find the fielders before being bowled for a duck. Harriss strode to the crease and just three balls and one wild swing later was walking back to the pavilion after being stumped by Ranacceera.
Cooper came in at six with the aim of hanging around in support of A. Danks and was off the mark with a boundary first ball to ease the pressure. That was as good as it got for the skipper, though, after having forgetten to wear his box, promptly edged a full toss right into his gentleman’s agreement. A brief break to catch his breath and dust down his pride, Cooper resumed his innings only to be caught in the covers for four.
A. Danks was doing his very best to settle the ship and, with the help of Gibbs, got the Ramblas to tea at a somewhat calamitous 25-5.
After another amazing tea courtesy (courtes-tea? Ed.) of Mrs C, A. Danks and Gibbs regrouped and looked to steer the Ramblas to victory. A. Danks upped the ante in the first few overs after tea with some lovely boundaries before being caught at midwicket for a hard-earned 18. The cheers emanating from the visitors showed just how crucial the wicket was and just how much the pendulum had swung their way.
What they hadn’t accounted for was the Ramblas very own Michael Bevan in the shape of Sam Ford. In tandem with Gibbs, Ford rebuilt the innings, run by run, block by block. The pair were sharp with their running and decisive with their striking as they dragged the Ramblas to the finishing line. Chuck in a few maximums along the way and the partnership reached 54 as the pair got the scores level at 90.
Sadly for Ford, he couldn’t quite finish the job as his attempt to tickle the ball to fine leg found the inside edge and ricocheted off his foot and was bowled for a crucial 28. Loughlin came in and successfully saw out the over.
This left Gibbs with the responsibility of hitting the winning run and he did that with aplomb, creaming the ball over the covers for six. And, with that, the Ramblas had won their fourth game in a row in another exciting, if nerve wracking finish.
It only remains to thank Chevening Amblers for being excellent visitors and for helping to put on such a great contest. The Ramblas now head to the bank holiday weekend fixture against Norwood Exiles with the aiming of repeating last season’s result.
Ramblas MVP: Shout outs to both Doug Danks, for his match figures of 4-51 and key run out, and Sam Ford for his fine bowling and important knock of 28. But for following up a hat-trick with a match winning innings of 26*, this week’s MVP is new recruit Ed Gibbs.
The final scoreboard for another nail biting finish.
New boy Ed showing he’s not just a natural at cricket.