Today saw a new chapter in the Romsey Town homeground saga, with a trip out to the dry and yellow expanse of Bayer CropScience's playing fields near Hauxton, better known to some as the old Agrevo site. Much of the afternoon was spent hiding the drinks cups and faffing about with mysterious keys, but in between such shenanigans there was, unfortunately, time for a little cricket.
Having won the toss we took to the field and started well with, with both Andy Owen (2/54) and Daniel Mortlock (1/46) giving away very little. But they also got very little (read: nothing) in the way of wickets, and when the Shepwick openers started to hit out it was clearly time for a double bowling change. This worked remarkably well, with both Rog Shelley (1/48) and Rod Dennis (1/31) getting wickets in their first overs.
Sadly the fun stopped there as we once again endured a century partnership, partly due to good batting, partly due to the luck of edges falling in the wrong place, and partly due to our own inability to catch. That said, our outfielders -- particularly Vince Higgs, Mike Scanlon, Arnie Garside and Giovanni Giacobbe -- chased down a great many balls during this time, a task made all the more arduous with the ball bouncing wildly on the bumpy surface. We also sustained more a few injuries, with most players getting a few bruised fingers, Gio straining his hamstring (which didn't prevent him taking a superb diving catch), and Rog heading off to hospital after breaking a bone in his hand attempting a difficult return catch.
We did mount a bit of comeback in the last few overs -- Daniel and Andy finally got some wickets and Tony Desimone (2/29, bowling for the first time since a two-ball spell in 1999) found himself on a hat-trick at one stage -- but it was too late to keep our target manageable.
As we carried our wounded off the field of battle we at least had Denise's excellent tea waiting for us, along with Alfie, well again again after a month battling some mongrel virus. He headed off just as we were about to start our big run chase, predicting that, once again, we'd been unable to win without him in the team . . .
Just as with our time in the field, things started well, Tony Desimone (13) and Phil Marshall (40) putting together a solid and rapid opening stand of 61 in 13 overs. At this stage a come-from-behind win still seemed possible, but Hardrethwick put the result beyond doubt in the next ten overs, during which they took four wickets and restricted us to 3 runs an over. The lack of runs made for a somewhat dull passage of play, but it also included the game's most dramatic moment, when Gio was hit on the temple by a high full toss that resulted in a great deal of swearing (and even more apologising) but no permanent damage.
After 30 overs the score was a pretty unhealthy 108/4, but Rod Dennis (51*) and Andy Owen (50*) salvaged some pride, putting together the best Romsey partnership of the year so far. They smashed 79 runs in the last ten overs, both completing their half-centuries with just a few balls remaining. But, just as with the bowling, it was too late to make a difference to the result.
Bloody frustrating game, cricket.