After hard-fought victories in the previous two weeks, the Ramblas were back at home as they faced Brasted Invicta, keen to keep up their unbeaten form at Fortress Ex-Blues.
With Dave Brewer missing due to injury, and Chris Thomas and Sam Ford away on holiday, Tom Danks came back into the line up along with Ramblas newbie Dave Green and debutant Peter Marshall.
Despite all the changes to the side this season, one thing has remained constant, the skipper’s luck at the toss. And after losing another one, the visitors opted to bat with the Ramblas heading out looking to maintain their excellent form in the field this season.
Cap’n Cooper opened with his tried and tested tandem of Mark Loughlin and Doug Danks. Loughlin nearly made the breakthrough with his second ball, when opener S. Young nicked one, but ‘keeper Alex Danks couldn’t snaffle the catch. Optimism was high so the Ramblas were sure the drop wouldn’t prove costly…
Sadly, S. Young made the most of his lifeline by thrashing the bowling attack to all parts. Geoff Parrett and Steve Fitch replaced Loughlin and D. Danks respectively but they couldn’t contain the opening pair, who continued to motor along at over nine an over.
Cooper even brought himself on for the last over before drinks, but he couldn’t make the much-needed breakthrough and Brasted reached drinks for an eye watering 189-0.
The spectators finding it hard to watch the Ramblas toil in the field.
Despite needing something stronger, the Ramblas had to settle for squash at the drinks break as they prepared to launch some form of comeback.
D. Danks returned to the attack along with T. Danks and it was the latter that finally broke the opening partnership of 258, trapping S. Young lbw for a staggering 172. There was a palpable sense of relief when the Ramblas finally saw the back of the opener.
T. Danks then claimed his second when he clean bowled the other opener M. Lea for 85. With both openers now back in the hutch, the Ramblas hoped to keep the score below 300.
Such lofty ambitions were soon dashed when the Brasted number three, M. Wilson, picked up where his teammates left off and smited the hosts attack all over the park.
Jonny Stocks replaced D. Danks and succeeded in claiming a wicket, thanks to a sharp catch by Parrett at mid-on. Loughlin then replaced Stocks in the attack and got a much-deserved wicket, clean bowling B. Young for 13. By the end of the innings, Brasted had piled on 378 runs for the loss of only four wickets.
However, the scorecard didn’t tell the whole story, with the Ramblas’ ground fielding exceeding their already high standards, with first aider Lucy Brewer being called upon twice following on field heroics from both Fitch and T. Danks. Further honourable mentions to Messrs Green and Marshall in the field, who worked tirelessly in the field and put their body first on a number of occasions.
With the game all but over as a contest, the Ramblas sought comfort in their tea.
Luckily for them, Fitch Snr had laid on a sumptuous feast of a BBQ and the Ramblas drowned their sorrows in burgers and hot dogs as they contemplated the required run rate of nine and a half an over…
A classic Fitch BBQ was the Ramblas reward at the halfway point.
Cap’n Cooper opened the batting with Tom and Alex Danks, in the hope that they could get the hosts off to a positive start. And while T. Danks was initially watchful, A. Danks wasted no time in getting amongst the runs, amassing 20 runs in just 17 balls before being clean bowled by Copley.
Stocks came in at three as the Ramblas rebuilt their innings after an early wicket. Unlike previous games this season, the pair’s running between the wickets was excellent. And, combined with some power hitting from T. Danks, the Ramblas reached drinks at a solid 90-1.
The duo picked up where they left off and T. Danks reached a well deserved 50 as the pair brought up a century partnership. Sadly, T. Danks was dismissed shortly after, clean bowled for an excellent, if two runs shy of a decent, score.
The wicket brought Green to the crease, and he wasted no time in getting amongst the runs, with consecutive boundaries from his second and third balls. Alas, his brief cameo came to an end when he was run out for eight.
New boy Matt Rudgyard was the next cab off the rank and his attitude was similar to that of Green. Any loose ball found its way to the boundary as he raced to 15 off 13 balls. However, he was run out next ball, much to the chagrin of the Ramblas, even though a wry smile was seen on the face of T. Danks…
Amid the run-out chaos, Stocks was the next Rambla to reach his half century as he was joined by Cooper at the crease. Some lusty blows from the latter saw the captain reach five before being clean bowled.
Fitch came and went for a brief cameo, hitting a boundary with a glorious pull shot before being caught in the covers. L. Brewer was once again called into action when, looking for another run out, the visiting fielder hurled the ball at the stumps but succeeded only in injuring his own bowler.
Parrett came in at eight and, much to the joy of Ramblas everywhere, was going big from ball one. His brief nine-ball cameo produced 17 runs and gave everyone something to smile about.
The final wicket fell in the penultimate over as Stocks departed for a well-earned 58. The Ramblas posted a very commendable total of 212 in their reply, but still fell 168 runs shy of victory.
While conceding 378 in the first innings might knock the wind out of many a team’s sails, it was an excellent effort by the Ramblas to fight on and post a decent score to end the game on a high note.
Ramblas MVP: Despite the sizeable defeat, well played to Mark Loughlin for his 1-33, plus going for less than five an over, and Johnny Stocks for his 58. However, for his sterling efforts with both bat (67) & ball (2-45), this week’s MVP is Tom Danks.
Mark Loughlin, the proud recipient of his 100th appearance tankard.
Parrett in the field, ready to strike.