For the fourth year in succession Romsey Town was invited to participate in Clumber Park CC's triangular 20-over tournament. The drill was pretty familiar by now: a day of drinking and over-eating in the grounds of a National Trust property, whilst playing a few 20-overs games against Clumber Park and another guest team. Unfortunately Romsey was unable to field a full team, and so five of us (Andy, Rog, Malcolm, Dave and Daniel) were to be complemented by half a dozen Clumber Park players, a merger which could, worryingly, should presumably be referred to as Clumsey Pawn.
The day began almost as badly as this report, a 7:30am alarm call preceding the embarrasment of being overtaken by an icecream van on the way to Rog's place. From there it was two more hours' car travel: about half an hour for Dave to park using an unconventional 38-point turn, and then some ninety minutes heading up the A1 to Clumber. Once there, however, things immediately improved, largely due to some superb BBQ sausage-and-egg rolls.
After brekky it was time for us to lounge around and watch Clumber Park play the other guest team, King's Keys. Clumber looked a bit weak in the batting department, and were bowled out for 102, which was promptly chased down with an over to spare. By this stage we'd started to do a bit of warming up, although it didn't auger well when Rog was bowled by his niece (who'd never played cricket before and was what can only be described as seven).
On the field it was another matter: we kept the Clumber Park top order in check early, before Daniel Mortlock (3/3, despite the handicap of being immortalised as ``Ballcock'' in the scorebook), ``Bomber'' Mike Burton (2/13) and Andy Owen (2/28) saw to it that we were facing a target of just 107. This was achieved without too much bother, Mike Beard (41) and Daniel (46) getting us off to a great start before A. Beltamy (12*) saw us home.
After even more food it was time for the ``final'' between the two undefeated teams: Clumsey and King's Keys. We batted first . . . and got absolutely nowhere. The opening bowlers were too good; the pitch was keeping low; and we batted rather poorly. That we were able to set any sort of target was largely due to the late-order bludgeoning of Malcolm Creek (17*), but 77 was only barely even ``any sort of target''. And indeed King's Keys raced off in the first few overs before Rog Shelley (3/11 with some unexpected spin) and Andy Owen (2/15) gave us a fighting chance. Somehow we managed to stretch the game out to the final over, from which 4 were needed, but unfortunately the game -- and, indeed, the tournament -- ended with a flurry of wides. Something of an anti-climax, certainly, but King's Keys were deserved winners, and I think we were lucky just to have made a game of it.
After a brief presentation ceremony and some more eating it was time to head back down the A1, dodging idiotic drivers, formulating plans for the great Owen-Clark nine-ball challenge, and hearing tales of how horrible it can be working at a nurses' college.
And what better image can there be with which to end season 2004?