A few members of Romsey Town Cricket Club headed out to Babraham for what appears to have been an under-manned suicide mission today. With Babraham undefeated on top of the league table a victory would have been unlikely in the best of circumstances, but with just ten players (only two of whom had bowled more than ten overs this season) the odds were tipped even further in Babraham's favour.
The Babraham captain (hi if you're reading this) won the toss and elected to bat, but his team were soon in trouble at 155/2 at the 20-over mark. They did manage a recovery of sorts, finally posting a respectable total (338/3), thanks mainly to one of their openers, C. Thompson, who made a scrappy 163 not out.
But enough about the lying, cheating, sexually inadequate oppostion - what of the heroic deeds of our cricketing warriors?
Not much good to report, sadly. We did keep trying in the field, with Vince Higgs, Arnie Garside, Mike Scanlon and Alfie Wilmshurst, in particular, running themsleves into the ground, Malcolm Creek completing an excellent stumping, and Rod Dennis pouching a difficult catch. The bowlers didn't really have much fun at all - only Andy Owen (1/56) conceded less than a run a ball, but Alfie Wilmshurst (2/84) at least got to enjoy getting a wicket with his third delivery before receiving much the same treatment as everyone else (but for more overs).
Despite the fact that we only had to score at 8.5 an over, victory was far from certain - it's all too easy to play timidly when chasing these small targets as Australian cricket fans have painfully found out over the years (e.g., Headingly 1981, Edgbaston 1981, Adelaide 1992/1993, Sydney 1993/1994, The Oval 1997 and Melbourne 1998/1999, all occasions when the Test team failed to chase sub-170 totals).
So it was great to see (well, hear about - this report is based on our captain's balanced account of events) Tony Desimone (36) and Rich Savage (a spectacular 25) put together a solid and aggressive opening partnership, before Andy Owen (72*) joined Tony to take the score from 40/2 to 112/3. With 8 overs left, we'd been reduced to our traditional position of chasing our beloved 150 target, and Arnie Garside (9) was once again on hand to ensure that we at least salvaged maximum batting points from the fixture.
Two narrow losses in two weeks, and the mid-season euphoria ("surely we can begin to feel confident of a place in Division 2 for the 2004 season?" according to the numnut who wrote the match report two weeks ago) has now been replaced by the gnawing paranoia that somehow we're going to be relegated by a fraction of a point. At least we have a week off to lick our wounds and forget about cricket.