What a bloody awful day. The weather was miserable -- sunny and pushing 30 degrees, no conditions to be running after the red ball if, say, you were suffering from a grade A hangover. Much of the cricket was pretty dire too, the game unfolding at snail's pace, and even the tuna and sweetcorn made an unwelcome reappearance.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. As usual Andy won the toss and put the opposition in to bat, clearly the right decision on a rain-affected wicket. Indeed, for the first quarter of the innings we were on top, Andy Owen (3/29) and Daniel Mortlock (1/25) causing the batsmen to call for helmets and conceding just 10 runs off the first eight overs. It seemed only a matter of time before the wickets started to tumble . . .
. . . lots of time, as it turned out -- Andy and Daniel both retired from the attack wicketless, and by the time Malcolm Creek made an excellent stumping off Alfie Wilmshurst (1/29), Great Shelford had 93 on the board. Not that the loss of a wicket slowed the run rate by much -- with the score at 150/2 after 30 overs another monster target seemed all too likely (even if Babraham's total of 338/3 from two weeks ago was in no immediate danger).
As it happened, we actually made something of a comeback, getting five more wickets (which should have been more, but for a spate of dropped chances). Nigel Arnold (2/63) was probably the unluckiest of the bowlers, but then the wickets he did get were a couple of "tail-end charlies" according to Alfie. We did also take a few catches, the most notable being Rich Savage's diving effort at slip in which he managed to hold onto the ball between his wrists; and the groundfielding was mostly okay (a few overthrows aside), with Arnie Garside, Alfie and Romsey first-timer Dave Clark all earning their teas with tireless running in the heat.
Getting 200 on today's lively pitch never seemed likely but our impotent bowling performance was as nothing compared to our comatose run chase -- it was almost as though we'd given up on the possibility of winning before we started. After Tony Desimone was out for a hard-grafted 32 the score reached a nadir of 60/5 in the 27th over, leaving with the implausible task of scoring 140 off 80 balls.
The final stage of the "match" bordered on farce -- Shelford had clearly won, and their bored players began to lose interest, a situation that their wicketkeeper-captain reacted to by taking off his gloves and having a bowl himself. This inadvertantly led to the game having a weird sort of symmetry, with Andy Owen (30*) and Daniel Mortlock (41*) combining for an unbroken 79-run partnership and dominating the last ten overs of the game as they had the first ten. The difference, of course, was that there was no pressure and really not much to be gained other than an improved batting average. There wasn't even the "satisfaction" of maximum batting bonus points -- we finished 11 runs short of our beloved 150 target and had to be content with 7 points from the match.
The dressing room after the game was not a happy place; it was a miserable, sweaty place, and emptied out pretty quickly. A few die-hards headed off to the Granta, but most of us just headed home to contemplate life back in Division 3.