Much as our narrow defeat last week found a parallel in Australia's two-run loss at Edgbaston, rain saved Romsey today just as it was doing a good job of saving Australia in the third Ashes Test. That the weather would play a dominant role might have been guessed by anyone who happened to be listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning: somewhat spookily, Romsey 'keeper and sometime BBC weatherman Ev Fox had quite a lengthy chat with Christopher Martin-Jenkins (available here as a two minute MP3 file) about the Fitzwilliam College ground and, in particular, the state of the square in wet conditions.
Having been put in to bat, we at least got to spend the bulk of the time staying dry in the pavilion - with league umpires standing at both ends it was only the two incumbent batsmen who had to get wet. The Great Chisill players, of course, had no such luxury, and remained surprisingly cheerful despite spending several hours fielding in increasingly ridiculous conditions.
Cricket-wise our innings began very well, with Tony Desimone (13 off 19 balls, with 2 fours), Roy Page (31 off 28 balls, with 5 fours) and Neal Baker-Davis (24 off 39 balls, with 3 fours) all playing with a nice mix of control and aggression. With the score 52/1 after 10 overs and plenty of batting to come, a total well in excess of 200 seemed to be ours for the taking; alas some rather soft dismissals saw us lose 3/19 in our first collapse of the day.
We were thus forced to start building an innings all over again, a task to which Ev Fox (25 off 47 balls, with 3 fours) and Rod Dennis (50 off 41 balls, with 10 fours, in a superb return to his best form) applied themselves brilliantly. During this period the rain got heavier and the ground got more and more slippery, sanity finally prevailing when the players came off after 23 overs (with the score on 103/4). In the end we stayed off for long enough to have an early tea, after which Ev and Rod picked up right where they left off, eventually taking the score onto 136/4 in the 31st over. With both batsmen looking solid a total of 200+ was once again within our sights.
Sadly, as you've probably guessed from the fact that you've just been made to start reading a new paragraph, it didn't quite pan out that way. This was largely due to the efforts of a rather pacey young Chisill bowler by the name of Musson - he was simply a bit good for us today, and came away with the crazy figures of 6 overs, 4 maidens, 3/5. He induced a second, more extreme, collapse that saw us lose 5/27 and we were once again forced into the humiliating position of just trying to make sure we batted out our overs. It was pretty uninspiring stuff, Daniel Mortlock scrounging his way to 17* (off 29 balls, with 3 fours), but we did at least manage to finish with the respectable total of 179/9.
After a quick, tea-less change-over the Great Chisill openers raced to 26/0 after 5 overs, at which point the umpires came together and decided that conditions were too bad to go on and the match was promptly abandoned. The Great Chisill players were understandably unhappy about this - they were now no more than two hours away from what seemed likely to be a comfortable victory which, what's more, they'd set up whilst fielding through much heavier rain earlier on in the day. As is so often the case, the only real problem was probably one of inconsistency: it's hard to imagine anyone thought the conditions were remotely suitable for cricket; but a precedent had been set after the game had been allowed to continue earlier in the day.
And then, as if to remind us who was really in charge, the heavens finally opened properly, soaking the ground and ensuring that all the heated debate became of academic interest only. For most of us it was a pretty dismal way to spend a Saturday afternoon, although maybe the two successful Chisill bowlers didn't mind it two much. And seeing Rod bat with the dominance that saw him top the 2001 Romsey batting averages almost made the whole thing worthwhile.