The Romsey convoy trundled south-west again today, to Newton this time. Their ground was heavily guarded by a herd of heavily built cows - although they needed their own protection, in the form of shoe disinfectant. It seemed worth trying not to get this on one's shoes, but Alfie said it tasted alright. Once inside, the ground revealed itself to have short square boundaries (one made even shorter by the presence of a large tree inside the boundary), but the pitch was quite uneven, so it wasn't immediately clear whether we should be expecting a high- or low-scoring game.
When we were asked to bat, we soon found out that a high score would be needed to win. The top order took off at a cracking pace, getting to 81 off 12 overs (almost seven an over, and on target for 270), but once again there was a steady flow of wickets. All but two batsmen made it into double figures, and there were three silly run outs in the innings, although nothing was quite as horrendous as Daniel Mortlock being caught and bowled off what would have been a wide for a duck. All this suggested another mediocre sub-200 total, but we were saved by two things. One was Rod Dennis's blistering 81*, which he scored despite having come in with the innings half over. His innings consisted of 11 singles, 10 fours and 6 sixes and was a joy to watch. He shared good partnerships with Rich Savage (15), Rog Shelley (11) and Pete Cornwell (10* off 4 balls), but Rod's greatest allies were an unbelievable 60 extras, mainly wides and byes. The last ten overs yielded about 80 runs, and we ended up with 266/9, Romsey's highest ever total.
The tea consisted mainly of the usual suspects (including that "most wanted", sweetcorn), but the presence of small pink spheroids that looked like distended testicles but tasted rather nice distinguished it from the herd. The tea felt like a 7.5/10, but our innings was more like a 9/10 - we were all tacitly assuming that victory would be a formality, especially given that Elmdon (our opponents last week) had bundled Newton II out for about 60.
We strode out into the field to the sound of rhythmic mooing from the insane (although not, we were assured, mad) cows around us, and were expecting a flurry of wickets. Instead we got a flurry of gorgeous drives from one of the Newton openers (who'd also bowled a mean spell) and able support from the other. After 15 overs the pair were still together with 70-odd on the board. Daniel Mortlock sort-of made up for his duck with a few nippy balls past or hitting the outside edge, but it was Neal Baker who eventually got the breakthrough, dismissing the junior partner courtesy of a fantastic reflex slips catch from the 67% reliable Phil Bradford. However the other opener had already passed fifty, and looked at home against the faster stuff. Thus we tried Rod Dennis's leg spin (2/47 in the end); the batsmen predictably went for some big shots, and got a few boundaries, but then our nemsis mis-read the flight on one ball and was bowled for 64. Most of us thought this would induce a collapse, but it wasn't to be - the opener's replacement didn't have quite the same style, but must have hit at least ten powerful pulls for four. With ten overs to go we were still in command with 100 runs needed, but no-one was feeling quite so cocky. In the end the target was too much, but it took some tidy mopping up from Andy Owen and Nigel Arnold (2/11 off three overs, having tirelessly patrolled the square boundary with Pete Cornwell). Newton's 206/6 wasn't close to our total, but their batsmen made about 190 of those runs, which is pretty comparable to the 206 runs that our batsmen made.
It was hot and tiring work in the field, and we all trudged off pretty slowly having seen 470 runs scored during the day. Most of the team joined Newton for a pint at the local (and presumably a continuation of the friendly atmosphere that had lasted all day), although Alfie skipped off early to get the last of the disinfectant . . .