This report was meant to start with a witty introduction, but I couldn't think of anything funny to write, so it's going to have to be basic facts instead. We were playing an away match against Comberton I today. We all drove there in cars. No-one got lost. The game started on time. We fielded first . . .
. . . which led to the usual frustrations, largely because we were unable to make an early breakthrough. In part this was because the Comberton top order was just a little bit good for our bowling, although it will surprise no-one that dropped catches also had a role to play -- why is it that we always seem to give a life to the guy who goes on to make eighty-odd? (Actually, that question is really the wrong way 'round, and would be better phrased as the somewhat obvious truth that, if you keep dropping someone, they'll go on to make eighty-odd.) The combination of clean hitting and bumpy ground made fielding less than enjoyable -- Roy Page, Rod Dennis and Arnie Garside must all have hobbled off to tea with plenty of bruises from using various body parts to stop yet another boundary.
The bowling was sort of ``seven out of ten'' throughout: Andy Owen (1/49) and Russell Woolf (1/72) both struggled a bit into the wind; Daniel Mortlock (2/34) and Joe White found more joy operating with its assistance, although it seemed Joe's pace might go unrewarded when his first eight overs yeilded unremarkable figures of 0/28. But then we found out his surefire strategy for winning the bowling award once again: having let everyone else toil away against the top order, he saw to it that he had a few overs left to bowl at the tail-enders. They duly played a few ugly cross-bat swipes at straight deliveries and Joe's figures were suddenly the season's best: 4/31. From a more team-oriented perspective this lower order swishing only made it even more annoying that we couldn't break through the top order sooner; as it was we didn't, and ended up with a target of 203 to chase.
And if ever we were going to succeed in such a task, today seemed a pretty good candidate, with eight of our eleven having scored league half-centuries and lots of extra runs to be had from the inevitable mis-fields that were sure to occur on the irregular outfield. As it was, a combination of some excellent bowling and some pretty poor batting saw to it that wickets fell with such regularity that our biggest partnership for the day was just 23. Ev Fox made an excellent 32 off 40 balls early on, and then Andy Owen got 36 at the death, but the next highest contribution was extras (14); no-one else even made it to double figures.
It was a all a bit monotonous and predictable, with the only real drama coming courtesy of one Comberton bowler (an Antipodean to be sure, but hopefully a Kiwi) whose ``enthusiastic'' appealing and unsolicited ``suggestions'' were more the sort of thing that one might expect to be picked up by the stump microphones during the conclusion of a tense one-day international. It was all a bit incongruous as, largely due to his excellent spell of 3/14 (including 5 maidens), the outcome of our run chase was never in doubt. One of his magnificent LBW appeals was successful, despite the batsman's fervent belief that he'd edged the ball onto his pads; the wonderful irony of this was that said bowler had been given out in the same way earlier in the day and, as he trudged back to the pavilion, made it quite clear that he too had gotten a bit of bat on the ball. A superb and self-contained illustration of that unspoken fact that no batsman is ever out LBW, but every time a bowler appeals it's plum in front.
Anyway, the match ended as it should have: with Comberton running out easy winners, having out-bowled, out-batted and out-fielded us. They thus earned 20 league points for their six hours' work which, embarrasingly, is 2 more than the 18 points Romsey managed for the whole of May.