After a three week break without any cricket we had our first home match on the wide expanse of Emmanuel College's Wilberforce Road ground. The opposition were Whittlesford I, a team we last encountered during our previous attempt at Division 2, and with whom we'd had a few ``spirited'' matches.
Andy finally lost a toss and we were sent in on a pretty bumpy Emmanuel pitch, but Rod Dennis (6) and Phil Marshall (a superb 67) both seemed to be in good nick during their 37-run opening stand. Unfortunately this turned out to be the best partnership in the innings, wickets falling with an inevitable regularity. The Whittlesford bowlers got a great deal of movement both in the air and off the pitch (a fact which contributed to the incredible total of 30 wides), and batting was never easy. Aside from Phil (who was particularly savage on anything a down the leg-side) only Daniel Mortlock (26) and Giovanni Giacobbe (11) made it into double figures, and we were all out inside the 36th over.
After refuelling on ye olde tuna and sweetcorn -- some things don't change -- we set about defending our rather unimpressive total. But just as the we had a traditional Romsey collapse whilst batting, the opposition's top few once again found it all too easy to accumulate runs in comparative safety. Today it was Whittlesford's opening pair that did the damage, putting on a match-winning 124-run stand in 29 overs, losing their wickets only when they began to tire.
Andy Owen (1/32) was his usual competitve self, and made the first breakthrough, but it was Rog Shelley (1/36) who induced the most false shots, finding a troublesome length that had the batsmen repeatedly playing in the air. Daniel Mortlock (0/45) bowled too many loose balls to build any pressure, but spin was applied more accurately by Rod Dennis (1/16) and Russell Woolf (0/23), although the latter had to leave the field after sacrificing one of his fingers in an attempt to catch a lofted drive that was smashed in his direction. This was one of a handfull of half-chances that we didn't get; taken in combination with a few close run outs and LBW appeals that weren't given there was a definite feeling that this wasn't to be our day.
But at least we stuck to our guns, with Vince Higgs (in his first game for us), Giovanni Giacobbe and Phil Marshall all good on the ground and Rod Dennis and Andy Owen taking good catches. Of course it wasn't enough, and despite the fact that the the middle order didn't appear to have the same class as the openers, Whittlesford won with plenty of wickets and overs to spare.
And we couldn't even get a drink after the game -- for some reason the bar at the ground is open only to Emmanuel students, and even alumni (of which the opposition's opener is one) couldn't get served. Maybe this was just as well, 'cos we would have made a pretty miserable bunch of drinkers tonight.