After the excitement of playing at Fenner's last Saturday we were back to the nice, if dull, world of Emmanuel College. Whereas a week ago we were walking in the footsteps of history's greatest cricketers, the best that could be said today was that the reason the outfield was so lush was that Cambridge United had been doing their pre-season training here. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the footballers, running 'round in this heat, but then again that's what we had to do when opposition captain won the toss and asked us to field in uncomfortably warm and humid conditions.
The first forty minutes of Bassingbourn's innings saw the Romsey machine performing at its absolute peak, with sharp bowling (by Andy Owen, 1/28, and Andrew Page, 3/41), tight fielding and great team spirit. This was reflected in the fact that Bassingbourn were just 21/1 at the ten over mark, after which Daniel Mortlock (3/44) and Alfie Wilmshusrt (3/38) got rid of most of their middle order. Daniel's wickets came courtesy of good catches by Alfie and Arnie Garside, but all Alfie's wickets were bowled. This induced one of the Bassingbourn umpires to invent a new signal - as opposed to the raised index finger signifying "out" he tended to resort to a resigned shake of the head as yet another of his teammates misjudged the flight and played across the line.
After 29 overs the score was 102/7, and we really should have finished off the tail enders; as it was they (and in particular one junior player who made 45 by batting far more sensibly than his more experienced partners) took their score to a respectable 163. A succession of dropped catches and a ridiculous missed run out (in which the bowler had one batsmen miles out of his ground but ended up heeding the calls to throw the ball to the other end) allowed Bassingbourn to post a competitive total, whereas we should have going to lunch with victory all but a formality.
Our innings was the story of two good partnerships and one big collapse. The first of these saw Tony Desimone (28) and Alex Cook (25) stabilise the innings after an early wicket, seeing off the best of the bowlers and taking the score to 63/1 in the 18th over, a great platform from which to continue the chase. But when Alex and Tony were out in the space of an over, Daniel Mortlock (33) and Andy Owen (15) found themselves having to start from scratch. And it was a bit scratchy at first, but with the two of them still together and just 53 needed off the last ten overs, we were definitely winning.
But instead of calmly waiting for the bad balls, there were some loose shots and a diabolical run out, all of which made for yet another Romsey Collapse (TM). Andrew Page contributed a useful 14, but the rest of the lower order crumbed as we lost 7/31 and Bassingbourn ran out comfortable 21-run winners, much to their relief, no doubt.
For us it was all too familiar: we went home having lost our last five matches (and eight of our last nine). We did at least push one of the league's better sides - indeed we were winning for much of the day - but if we're to go further than "almost" it's the same old story: don't drop simple catches and don't get out to soft shots.