With two matches left relegation was looming large. Still just the four victories -- we now needed to win two of the last three. Today we headed off to Hatley (not Longstowe, for some reason) . . . and arrived about four hours later -- so much for ``local'' leagues. The ground was tiny, the pitch was green and, given our epic encounter earlier in the season, the scene was set for a great match.
Despite the fact that Longstowe seemed to possess just the one decent bowler, our innings, having started well with a few big cuts and pulls from Tony Desimone (30), crawled along for the 40 overs. There were silly shots; there were singles that were almost boundaries; there was slow bowling that really should have been carted but wasn't. Also, we were two men short, so our 146/7 inclued a 20-run last wicket partnership highlighted by a final over six smashed by subsitute Garry Owen.
146 was never going to be enough unless we got quick wickets. Andy Owen (1/23), Daniel Mortlock (0/36) and Neal Baker (0/38) all bowled tight medium pace stuff, getting the ball to move and troubling the batsmen, but got just the one wicket between them. Longstowe had been scoring slowly (despite the help of some dubious wide calls), but needed just three an over with nine wickets remaining after our alleged attack had used up all its overs. Cometh the hour, cometh the men, and Rog Shelley and Alfie Wilmshurst set about working a miracle. In retrospect we should have been bowling slow all along -- it had worked for Longstowe and now it worked for us. Alfie Wilmshurst got 4/24 and Rog Shelley also got a wicket. More importantly, they kept the runs to an absolute minimum. With two overs to go there was just 4 runs and three wickets in it -- it would have been even closer if a few top edges hadn't fallen into empty spaces. With just three runs needed there was a spell of dot balls, but sadly the first ball of the last over saw a top edge over slips go all the way to the boundary.
Another great match with Longstowe, and plenty of agro too, but our hopes of staying in Division 2 seemed to be gone -- surely we couldn't win two from two?