A wonderful day -- cloudless, hot, maybe a bit humid -- ruined by cricket. Fresh from back-to-back victories against Harlton and Cambridge/Godmanchester IV we had a chance to move up to a scarcely believeable 4th place if we could beat Comberton I today.
We fielded first (quel surprise!) and produced one of our best-ever bowling performances. Daniel Mortlock (2/40) got movement and lift; Andy Owen (1/42) gave the batsmen no width; Rog Shelley (3/38) induced a number of edges and aerial shots with his awkward pace; Rod Dennis (0/26) was more than unlucky to have a wide called after the ball thudded into the batsman's pads; and Nigel Arnold (2/31) produced one of the best spells of the season, having one batsman smiling in disbelief as he was beaten and then bowled by a pair of perfect leg-cutters.
The most astute of you will have noticed that, despite my claims of bowling quality, the bowling figures weren't that great. This was in part due to Comberton's left-handed opener, who glanced and cover-drove his way to a solid 85 before being caught by Rod Dennis (who almost bollocksed the catch, but was instead bollocksed by it). But at least he took the catch -- the other reason for us conceding so many runs was the lamentable (and at times comical) fielding. We had half a dozen dropped catches, overthrows, balls going between fielders' legs, lazy chasing, the works. The batsman turned singles into twos and twos into threes and (prior to the final ball, at least) the closest we went to a run out was when a throw hit the batsman and he almost kicked the ball into the stumps.
The one bright spot was our comeback towards the end of the innings -- Comberton were cruising at 119/2 after 26 overs, and looking at a score of up to 250. But we kept them to 69/7 off the last 14 overs (although it could, of course, have been even better) and ended up facing a thoroughly gettable target of 189 for victory.
At least it might have been gettable if we hadn't lost two of our best batsmen inside the first 4 overs. Rod Dennis (19) and Rog Shelley (16) went some way to rebuilding the innings but it was very hard going with most of the Comberton bowlers swinging the ball late and fast. After we'd lost a few more quick wickets we'd limped to a lamentable 64/6 off 26 overs, leaving not only victory but even maximum batting points well out of range.
The rest of the match was a bit of a blur after the appearance of some rather cute cricketing groupies but, as far as I can recollect, we did at least salvage some respectability. This was mainly due to Malcolm Creek, who smashed a rapid 25 (choosing all-out aggression over the more circumspect approach taken by the other batsmen), taking us past 90 before he departed. Then Mike Scanlon (3*) and Arnie Garside (9*) combined perfectly to score the 8 needed off the final over to take us past 120, gaining an invaluable batting point.
This upbeat ending to the game couldn't really disguise the fact that we'd been thoroughly out-played by what was, at least today, a better team. A few of the more dedicated members of the team headed home for some intense wrist exercises but most of us took the more sensible option of a few beers down at the Granta.