Today we found ourselves in the strange situation of travelling to Harlton to play hosts to the local team at their own ground. After our triumph at this venue the previous week, however, we felt pretty comfortable returning, and even confident of lighting the water heater without detonating the fragile clubhouse in the process. Andy won the toss -- first time in a while -- and we decided to bat first in drizzly conditions, partly because fielding didn't look like it would be much fun in the rain . . .
Our innings started just like the last three weeks': as wickets fell with great regularity down one end, Tony Desimone (35, including 7 fours) played a lone hand at the other, batting with sufficient belligerence that we were doing okay at 54/2 in the 16th over. But after after some horrendous non-calling Tony was run out, after which we suffered our worst collapse of the season, losing 7/35 in the next ten overs. Only three batsmen made more than 2, and the only other player to get into double figures was John Gull (a very aggressive 22, highlighted by a second ball six).
We certainly couldn't blame our poor performance on the pitch (which was nowhere near as naughty as it was last week), and nor was it due to the bowling (which fairly pedestrian for the most part, and even erratic in places, as evidenced by the total of 17 wides). Rather it was our own loose batting, combined with Harlton's great fielding: they took six catches in total (and missed none that I can remember), including two good diving efforts in the outfield and a stunning reaction catch at shortish point of a full-blooded cut shot.
All this meant that we were going to tea at about 4pm; Denise, who'd kindly prepared the teas for the second week running, had only just arrived when we came off for the change of innings. It was a pretty leisurely break, too, with the rain getting steadily heavier; indeed it was debatable whether to start the second innings or not, but in the end Harlton were (predictably) keen to bat and we just wanted to end our miserable day rather than dragging it out unnecessarily.
Despite our recent great efforts at defending small totals, it was hard to believe we had any hope of bowling Harlton out for 80-odd, although we persisted with the aggressive field placements that have become our trademark of late. The Harlton batsmen came out swinging, in part to avoid any chance of a washout, although this seemed a flawed philosophy at first, one opener being dropped off the first ball of the innings and then bowled off the third by Daniel Mortlock (2/38). In the next few overs we beat the bat a lot and got plenty of edges, but most went for runs, and we spilled the few (difficult) chances that came our way. With scores tied even before drinks were due, Tom Jordan got his first bowl in senior cricket -- something not many eleven year olds can claim -- and went damn close to getting a wicket before the winning run was duly hit.
It was back to the Harlton local for beer 'n' chips, but the feeling couldn't have been more different from the eupohoria after last week's great win. With just three points from the match we've slipped down to the sadly familiar territory of the bottom of the league table. About the only consolation was that the whole debacle didn't take too long, only 46.3 overs being required for the entire match.