Bassingbourn vs. Romsey Town

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bassingbourn (229/2 in 40 overs)
Romsey Town (119 all out in 32 overs)
by 110 runs.

Today's epic convoy journey to deepest, darkest south Cambridgeshire seemed likely to be futile from the outset: the cloud overhead was as black as the tarmac whizzing underneath us, and the windscreen-wipers were swishing back and forth at a furious pace as we strained to make out the road ahead. Once we got to Bassingbourn it was surely time for the familiar drill: the captains have a perfunctory inspection of the muddy pitch; the ball's dropped hopefully onto a length a few times; we pick at the plentiful tea that was intended for the mid-innings break; and then we head back home to open a few beers and, today at least, watch the FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham (an exciting epic that almost justified the inevitable slow-motion montage that ended the BBC's otherwise impeccable coverage).

As it was, the low cloud merely spent the day loitering with intent, managing nothing more dramatic than half an hour of drizzle. That was sufficient to ensure that the ball ended up looking like a dog's chew-toy, but the soft-looking pitch was remarkably true throughout, even if it gradually played lower and slower as the day wore on.

All of which brings us to the actual cricket. Which, from our point of view at least, was as grim as one might expect when the opposition's openers compile a double-century partnership. And even though the Romsey Town experience sometimes seems to be defined by politely clapping opposition batsmen's milestones, this was something else. Moreover, today's effort had nothing to do with Romsey's "charitable" catching policy - the Bassingbourn batsmen gave only one half-chance each, and otherwise spent their time defending the good balls and smacking anything wide, short or full. Apparently when they passed 189 they'd set a new all-time partnership for the club, although this makes it all the more amusing that the scorebooks gave three different estimates for their eventual union - it was only through careful forensic work that it can be reported that we finally got a wicket at our 221st attempt, by which time we'd conceded 215 runs.

That wicket came, inevitably, courtesy of Andy Owen (1/35), although just about everyone who bowled did so pretty well, and ended up with pretty much the same figures: none for thirty or there abouts. The only exception was Russell Woolf, the other wicket-taker, with a deserved 1/33 in his first match back from injury.

And injuries were the other part of our misery: half the team seemed to be limping 'round the field, and somehow - possibly clever batting - the rest spent lengthy periods out of play. The two exceptions were Chetan Lad (energetic behind square in his first league game for the club) and and the vastly more experienced second-timer Oliver Harris (even more impressive at point than he was in his debut last week); otherwise the scene from the square leg boundary resembled an antique still life.

After tea (and a few more goals in the cup final) we set about chasing a total which, despite said mega-partnership, was comfortably less than a run a ball. Our top order all got going, and Roy Page (14 off 28 balls), John Gull (17 and 29 balls) and Oliver Harris (9 off 8 balls) all should have been looking at big scores . . . but instead of getting to clap our own players' milestones for a change, we just got the usual gag reel of comedy dismissals: two run outs in which the non-striker never budged; and then the horror moment of leaving a ball only to hear it flick off the bails.

After that (and the loss of two players called away to a family emergency) it was, once again, just a case of trying to bat out our overs. Which we failed to do by some margin, a heroic 23-run last wicket stand between a slogging Andy Owen (40, with 8 fours) and a virtually immobile Tony Desimone (1*) notwithstanding.

So: a 110-run loss which, largely, came down to that old chestnut that we handed out our wickets to any interested party whereas our opponents steadfastly refused to extend us the same courtesy.