Report by Daniel Mortlock:
At 1:50pm today two cars sped along a country lane in west Suffolk. One was an old blue Vauxhall that looked like it had received plenty of similar treatment in its time; the other was a new French four-cylinder that both looked and handled like a blob of toothpaste. In each car a navigator was calling out rally-style intructions while everyone kept their eyes on the clock - this was a race against time . . .
. . . that was, almost, won as the bulk of the Romsey Town side just about made it to Thurlow in time for the 2pm start. We headed out into the field in a slightly disorganised fashion - quite a contrast to the punctual and professional-looking Thurlow outfit in their matching club shirts - and set about trying to remember how to play league cricket.
For the first ten overs we might have been able to con ourselves that it was just like riding a bike: we'd done well enough to restrict two handy-looking batsmen to 36/0, and would have seen the back of both but for a couple of lapses (one being stranded out of his crease with the ball in the oblivious keeper's gloves, the other reprieved when the simplest of catches went to ground).
As it was we got to watch both of them bat and bat and bat, K. Donno (159* with 22 fours and 4 sixes) and M. Farrant (91 with 17 fours) having a whale of a time at our expense. For the second time in two years we fielded through an all-time club record partnership, today's union producing 277 runs from 238 balls (including 133 from the last 75). Senior opener Donno, in particular, was more than capable of scoring off good balls, but for the most part neither he nor his partner had to, being supplied with plenty of full-tosses and long-hops. Add in the difficulty of fielding on the bumpiest of outfields, sprinkle on a few meltdowns (e.g., standing on the boundary rope to field the ball, or throwing the ball back to the bowler with his back turned and giving away the silliest of byes) and what you get is an excruciating few hours in the field. The only bowler to go for less than 5.5 runs an over was Andy Owen (0/32), and even that was largely because he bowled out his ten overs at the start in order take over 'keeping duties for the second half of the innings. Everyone tried their best in the field, Olly Harris impressing most by pouncing threateningly on anything within his reach, right up to the final over of the innings. And this last over, bowled by Roy Page (1/34), did at least bring us a wicket, even if it was precipitated by the junior opener, having been told he was in the nineties, unwisely changing from batting properly to slogging to get his ton, with the predictable result that he was stumped trying to hoik the ball over cow-corner.
Having at least scored a minor victory we munched on quiche and sausages trying to work out if we could possibly score a major one. Our tactical discussions quickly converged on the somewhat obvious notion that we needed a couple of our top-order players to play themselves in and compile a big partnership of our own.
Unfortunately that, to put it mildly, didn't happen. Of the top order only Romsey first-timer James Wood (13 with 1 four) got into double figures, although he could have been twice that had he remembered to run, rather than standing rooted to the spot in shock every time he smacked the ball into a gap. By the end of the 14th over we were 44/5 and it was, as so often before, a case of just trying to bat out our overs and maybe collect some batting points (which, annoyingly, come every 40 runs, rather than 30 runs, this season).
Andy Owen (38* with 4 fours) and Daniel Mortlock (36* with 2 fours) at least did that, frustrating the Thurlow attack for a few hours of the dullest cricket imaginable. The difference between the sides could be neatly summed up by the fact that our ``big partnership'' yielded 88 runs in 26.1 overs at the exciting rate of 3.37 an over, just under half the scoring rate of the Thurlow version.
Thus Thurlow 20, Romsey Town 3 was a pretty fair reflection of the day's play. Our one possible consolation is that Thurlow, who missed out on winning Division 2 South B last year by just a fraction of a point, and are probably favourites to come top this year, so we should at least manage to be a bit more competitive when we take on Elmdon in a fortnight's time.