The sun was out in full force as the Ramblas looked to follow on from last week’s epic win vs Sherwood as they travelled to Hayes to take on Oakhill Taverners. Missing from last week’s encounter were Sam Ford and Ed Gibbs, but making his return to the side was Johnny Stocks.
However, the Ramblas were still two men short going into the weekend, but thanks to some sterling work from Lucy Brewer and Mark Loughlin, two players were found. First was PCD Matt Rudgyard via Facebook and second was James Bevis, Ex-Blues ringer and fellow Ravens Wood alumnus.
In one of the hottest days the Ramblas had ever played cricket in, Cap’n Cooper won the toss and elected to field… much to the consternation of most of his team. Cooper went with his tried and tested opening partnership of Doug Danks and Loughlin to get the Ramblas off to a good start.
The Oakhill openers were in no mood to give the bowlers time to settle, with D. Danks getting some harsh treatment, as they raced along at over eight an over. But try as you might, you just can’t keep a good Doug down, and he claimed his first wicket of the day to dismiss Eadington for 28 thanks to another fantastic stumping from Alex Danks. The perfect Father’s Day gift I think you’ll agree…
D. Danks then got his second of the day, dismissing the other opener for seven. Davis, looking to keep the run rate up, smacked the ball to deep mid-wicket where Dave Brewer took an exceptional diving catch, much to the joy of his fellow Ramblas. D. Brewer followed up the catch with another sharp stop in the field that left his leg with a bruise, to paraphrase The Smiths, bigger than a dinner plate.
Although the runs were flowing, so were the wickets as Loughlin got the wicket his bowling deserved, clean bowling the hosts’ number four for two. Loughlin was replaced by Chris Thomas, who carried on the good work by clean bowling Chute for 21, the batsman ‘mildly furious’ to be dismissed according to our sideline reporter L. Brewer.
Thomas then repeated the trick just two balls later as he sent the timbers flying to dismiss Ayers for a duck. Parrett replaced D. Danks in the attack and he combined well with Thomas to keep the pressure on the hosts.
Thomas picked up his third wicket of the day, when Oakhill’s skipper Fergus popped one up to Bevis at gully. And Thomas then snaffled his fourth wicket when Le Bars tamely chipped the ball back to the bowler. Sadly Thomas couldn’t claim a five-fer and had to make do with excellent figures of 7-1-25-4, as the hosts reached drinks at 94-7.
Bevis taking a catch at gully for Thomas’s third wicket.
Steve Fitch replaced Thomas after drinks and was unlucky not to get a wicket in his first over when Loughlin failed to hold on to a tough chance on the move. With the Oakhill tail wagging, the Ramblas knew that they had to be on their toes. And when a rare loose ball was delivered by Parrett, Pollard attempted to seize on the chance but was only able to find Fitch, who took a great catch at square leg.
Parrett got his second wicket of the day, cleaning bowling O’Sullivan for three, finishing his spell with figures of 7-0-31-2, before Cooper brought back Loughlin for one last burst and was rewarded with the final wicket of the game as he shattered Barnes’s stumps for 30.
With Oakhill all out for 165, the Ramblas trudged to the shade to cool off and re-energise ahead of the run chase. And, after an excellent tea provided by the hosts, the Ramblas were ready to knock the runs off, although D. Brewer was an injury doubt for the chase thanks to his earlier heroics.
The Ramblas looking relaxed at the halfway point.
A. Danks and Stocks were the men tasked with opening the batting for the visitors, and both looked in fine fettle thanks to some early boundaries. However, A. Danks was dismissed in the fourth over, clean bowled for eight.
Bevis came in at three and, while initially watchful, soon opened his arms as he struck back-to-back boundaries to get off the mark. Stocks was happy to play the anchoring role in the partnership, as Bevis continued to motor.
After drilling a six down the ground that hit the netting, Bevis proved he could do better next ball by clearing the net as the ball sailed into a different post code. Bevis struck another maximum, which flew over the clubhouse and narrowly avoided hitting the cars parked behind it, before being dismissed for a fantastic 23-ball 38. Those fireworks helped Bevis and Stocks put on a 50-run partnership in just five overs, to take the score to 66-2.
Fellow Ramblas rookie Rudgyard was the next man at the crease and looked good early doors thanks to some smart shots and quick running. Sadly, he couldn’t build on his good start and was clean bowled for five.
Stocks’s next partner was Cooper, who got off the mark first ball thanks to an edge that raced away for four. The pair were watchful as Oakhill brought on Saturday league bowler Chute to make the breakthrough. And that he did, as, having put on a 14-run partnership, Cooper was clean bowled for five by Fergus.
Loughlin was the next cab off the rank and wasted no time in wrestling control back from the hosts, hitting four boundaries in one over. Some smart running in tandem with Stocks kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely before the partnership was ended when the latter was dismissed for 26. In what had been a fantastic batting display from Stocks, it took an equally fantastic catch at first slip to dislodge him.
Fitch came to the crease with the aim of supporting the free flowing Loughlin and was watchful throughout his innings. But that isn’t to say he wasn’t capable of some finesse, a delicious cut that pierced the cover boundary was followed by a delightful scoop over the wicketkeeper’s head for four. Sadly, Fitch’s time at the crease was ended at 10 when he was clean bowled by a ball that kept low.
Loughlin was then joined by Parrett who reined in his more attacking instincts in his bid to help get the Ramblas over the finishing line. The pair took the Ramblas to 159 before Parrett was out for eight, caught and bowled by Davis.
With just seven runs needed, Loughlin brought up his well deserved 50, off just 22 balls, before being dismissed the very next ball. With the Ramblas eight wickets down and just three runs needed for victory, the assembled crowd were on tenterhooks and the Ramblas captain was a bundle of nerves.
A couple of quick singles from the new pair of Thomas and D. Danks saw the Ramblas bring the scores level, as D. Brewer padded up in case of an emergency. Thankfully for all concerned, he wasn’t required to hobble into the firing line as D. Danks pulled a low full toss for four and the Ramblas claimed their sixth win of the season.
On a scorching hot day, the Ramblas put on another excellent display, with every player pitching in to help drive the team to victory against very good opposition in some of the best surroundings the Ramblas have played in.
Ramblas MVP: In what was another all round team effort, hats off to Geoff Parrett for his 2-31 and Chris Thomas for his maiden four-fer. And with the bat, honourable mentions to both James Bevis, for his quick-fire 38, and Johnny Stocks, for his perfectly paced 26. But for two key wickets to go with a match-winning 50, this week’s MVP is Mark Loughlin.
Fitch in full flow with the fielders ready to pounce.