After two successive home games, and on the back of a four-match winning streak, the Ramblas headed to SE27 to take on Norwood Exiles, who themselves were on a similar winning run.
Missing from the side who defeated Chevening last week were Tom Danks, Dave Green and Ed Gibbs, with Geoff Parrett and Jonny Stocks returning to the lineup and Richard Ford stepping up to help the Ramblas to make his season debut. However, a last-minute injury to D. Danks meant the Ramblas were reduced to 10 men for the encounter.
Not for the first time this season, captain Cooper lost the toss, but for the first time this season, the Ramblas batted first. Alex Danks and Ash Harriss were given the task of opening the batting and getting the visitors off to a good start.
An idyllic locale for a bit of bank holiday cricket.
And the pair did not disappoint, as some clean striking and quick running between the wickets helped put the bowlers under pressure. The only issue seemed to be a slow outfield, as various shots struggled to reach the boundary and the pair were forced to run more than they’d have liked.
Harriss, clearly tired of having to do so much running, took the direct route and creamed a huge six over mid-wicket that hit the clubhouse roof and dislodged a few tiles. Alas, Harriss departed soon after, as his mistimed shot spooned up to the fielder at short third man for 24.
Stocks came in at three as he looked to carry on the good work of the openers. Danks was in excellent form from ball one and, after the wicket of Harriss, opened his arms to take the outfield out of the equation. One boundary nearly did for super fan Lucy Brewer, but her quick wits prevented any disasters. A tickle down to square leg and some sharp running saw Danks reach his much deserved half-century.
Some more brutal hitting from Danks saw the scoreboard tick along nicely until bowler J. Ahmed finally snuck one through the gates to dismiss the opener, who departed for an excellent run-a-ball 65.
Sadly, the wicket of Danks led to a mini collapse as J. Ahmed cleaned up Cooper first ball thanks to a rip snorting delivery that cut the skipper in half. Dave Brewer came in with the unenviable task of keeping out the hat-trick ball. But Brewer was more than up to the task and kept him out for the rest of the over.
However, a slower ball in Ahmed’s next over saw Brewer chip the ball back to the bowler. A first Ramblas run still eludes Brewer but after dealing so well with Ahmed, a score is surely around the corner.
R. Ford came to the crease but was out shortly after arriving after a suicidal single was called by Stocks that left Ford well short of his crease. Sam Ford was the next man in and could only add two to the score before he was dismissed by a great catch at square leg.
The fans seek shelter under the trees as the rain arrives.
As the rain started falling, so did the rest of the Ramblas wickets. Parrett couldn’t recreate his fireworks from the Petts Wood game and was out third ball. Stocks was bowled for a hard fought 24 by Rana. Steve Fitch was the last man to be dismissed – also bowled by Rana – for five, leaving Mark Loughlin the stranded man, on five not out.
From 115-1, the Ramblas were all out for 134 but despite the batting collapse the Ramblas knew that it was a defendable total, assuming the rain stayed away…
Sadly the rain wasn’t going anywhere and a particularly heavy down pour threatened to put an end to the game at the halfway mark. Luckily, the rain eventually stopped and the two captains agreed to resume the game.
Loughlin and Fitch opened and, despite some excellent bowling from the pair, a vastly quicker outfield saw any ball that pierced the infield race to the boundary. The openers reached their 50 partnership before Loughlin made the breakthrough by clean bowling Wilson for 24.
Parrett and S. Ford replaced Loughlin and Fitch respectively and the pair brought the Ramblas right back in the contest. Ford carried on his great form with the ball this season and was unlucky not to get amongst the wickets in his eight-over spell.
Parrett added to his wicket tally early in his spell thanks to an incredible one handed catch over his head by Loughlin to dismiss Shami for two. He then clean bowled Rana with a peach of a delivery that clipped the top of off, before claiming his third wicket of the game, trapping Pine LBW as the hosts suffered a mini wobble and reached drinks at 97-4.
As the hosts closed in on victory, Cooper brought back Loughlin into the attack, as well as R. Ford. After an excellent opening over from Ford put some pressure on the Exiles, Loughlin upped the ante even further. The third ball of the over saw Loughlin clean bowl Thomson for 24, and he followed it up the very next ball, trapping Tomkins LBW. Clearly not wanting to be out done by Gibbs last week, Loughlin saved the very best delivery for last. A screaming delivery found the edge of J. Ahmed’s bat and wicketkeeper Danks snaffled the catch and the Ramblas had their second hat-trick in as many weeks!
Despite the late heroics, the hosts edged over the finishing line as opener Alam hooked Ford for four to complete the win.
The Ramblas’ winning streak was ended at four, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. Despite the low total, everybody fought tooth and nail to defend it and can take a lot of positives from the performance.
Ramblas MVP: A very honourable mention to Mark Loughlin for bagging a hat-trick in his 100th game. And while it seems harsh to deny him the award, for his run-a-ball 65 that gave the Ramblas a target to defend, Alex Danks is this week’s MVP.
Alex Danks looking every inch the MVP.
Newest Ramblas centurion showing the kind of ball control that got him a hat-trick.