After last week's loss with just 8.5 players we were at least able to send a full eleven to Whittlesford today, from where Andy Owen, to go along with his batting, bowling and captaincy duties, filed the following report.
The pitch was damp and green again; we lost the toss again; and so we had to bat first in difficult conditions. Again. The opposition were predictably cock-a-hoop when their captain gave them the news they would be fielding; our boys weren't so pleased.
New man Alex Cook opened the batting with Ev Fox -- our fifth different opening pair in nine league matches this year. Whittlesford also rang the changes, starting off with their spinners; on the soggy pitch they proved near impossible to score off, and after ten overs we were just 19/0. Both Ev and Alex started to hit out in the next ten overs, and by the half-way mark we were a much healthier 72/0. Whittelesford were presumably grateful for the drinks break, and must have been ecstatic when they had Ev out for 21 just an over later, ending an excellent 74-run partnership.
Roy Page (21) joined Alex in a partnership highlighted by good running, and took us to a most un-Romsey-like 155/1 in the 35th over before Roy was dismissed. Alex, now in the nineties and tiring, was then called through for an overly-ambitious single by Andy Owen, and tragically run out for 95. It was a fantastic innings, with 10 fours and 2 sixes, and a great start to what will hopefully be long and fruitful Romsey career.
Rod Dennis (13*) played a nice cameo as the innings came to an end, but we also lost a few more wickets, and our total of 179/5 was a little disappointing. More worryingly the pitch was playing well now, a stark contrast to the first ten overs of our innings.
With both Daniel Mortlock and Joe White (19 wickets at 21.00 between them for the season so far) away on a cricket tour (traitors!) we were a bit short on bowling, and predictably struggled to defend our total. Neither Andy Owen (0/44) nor Russell Woolf (0/28) were able to make the much-needed early breakthrough, and D. Baker, in particular, played both of them with ease. Next we tried Paul Jordan (1/47) and Andrew Page (2/31, the second impressive Romsey debut for the day), the latter finally breaking the 97-run opening partnership when he had Baker out for a well made 65. Andrew also endured the day's most frustrating moment when he was joined by the whole team in a loud appeal for caught behind, only for the batsman to stay where he was and the umpire to signal a wide. We'll never know for sure whether the batsmen hit the ball or not, but certainly wides played very well, contributing 23 to an amazing total of 40 extras.
We got a few more wickets after drinks, although with Whittlesford needing just 42 off the last 14 overs with 7 wickets in hand we were still coming second. In the end we didn't get any more wickets, and Whittlesford scored the winning runs with more than five overs left.
It might have all been so different if we'd won the toss, but as it was we'd batted well to give ourselves a chance, only to bowl badly, a neat if frustrating reversal of the many games earlier in the season where the opposite was true. In the end there was nothing for it but to go to the pub and listen to Andy apologise to Alex one more time.