Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Going into today's match against the undefeated Thurlow juggernaut our chances of a win were pretty slim from the outset: aside from the fact they'd defeated us by the small matter of 153 runs in our early-season encounter, we were even more hopelessly disorganised than usual. Some sort of administrative screw-up meant that the club kit never even made it to the ground, a fate that, until a few minutes after the scheduled start time, it appeared would be shared by about half our players as well. It barely needs to be said that we were one short anyway, not that our tenth and final player arrived until after the half-way mark of Thurlow's innings.
At least we could draw some consolation from the fact that their innings wasn't going quite as well this time 'round, even if they were hardly struggling at 163/3 after 29 overs. Maybe more to the point there were two new batsmen at the crease, neither of whom seemed comfortable, the tall left-hander in particular looking rather uncertain with the ball not coming on. But then, after several overs of scratching about like an old man, he suddenly turned into The Man, tentativeness and indecision being replaced by fast footwork, aggressive running and a endless stream of clean strikes that sent the ball across the boundary time and time again. Well, sixteen times at any rate: he hit 12 fours and 4 sixes on his way to an undefeated 115 (which can't have taken more than about 70 deliveries given that he was only in for about 17 overs). And, with 136 runs coming in the last 11 overs, Thurlow even managed to outdo the 285/1 they managed against us last time, finishing up on 299/6 today.
For our part we kept chasing to the end, with Rod Dennis, Arnie Garside and Daniel Mortlock all taking catches and doing good work in the outer (which, needless to say, is where most of the work was happening), Andy Owen and Marcelino Gopal making a number of sharp stops closer in, and Roy Page superb behind the stumps. Of the bowling the less said the better, and the only bowlers to concede less than 60 runs were Adrian Mellish (1/32, including his first ever league wicket) and Andy Owen (3/43, and again the pick of what could only laughably be called an "attack").
Andy also induced the day's one decent comedy moment when he headed off to mid-off to start his "run out of ideas" ball and stood there waiting whilst the Thurlow 'keeper (resplendent in his rose-coloured glasses) stood with his bat in the air waiting to take strike. There followed an elaborate game of bluff with the batsman informing Andy he was waiting for him to go back to his mark and Andy saying he was at his mark and then the batsman saying he had to start in front of the sightscreen and then Andy saying he was starting from where he was and then the batsman saying he was ready and Andy saying he should put his bat down and the batsman saying he wasn't going to put his bat down and Andy querying once more if he was ready and the batsman saying he was ready and then Andy finally running in and the batsman finally tapping his bat on the ground and Andy delivering . . . a dot ball, calmly blocked back to the bowler.
Well, it was more fun than anything else that happened during our 40 overs in the field. And once off it there was only limited pleasure to be taken from Denise Owen's kindly provided collection of juicy cakes and fresh fruits -- from our point of view they felt undeserved at best.
It was pretty clear we weren't going to threaten Thurlow's massive total, so instead the focus was going to have to be just batting well and building a proper innings, which our top three did superbly. Jon Steele (12 off 16 balls), Tom Jordan (18 off 70 balls) and Arnie Garside (18 off 46 balls) all defied the increasingly grumpy Thurlow attack, who seemed most annoyed at the fact our batsmen kept getting a big forward stride in (and the fact that their big forward strides were met with a succession of "no ball" calls). And while having made it to 54/1 in the 16th over wasn't quite the ideal base-camp for an asault on 300, it was the most solid start to an innings we'd made since the glory days of July 2006.
But then the first change bowlers came on, slowed everything down, concentrated on line and length . . . and finished off our resistence in a dozen overs of loose shots. Our last 7 wickets fell for 17 runs (including a spell of 4/1) and any sense of pride we'd been building up collapsed as decisively as an inexperienced teenage boy upon being told "Oh! It's like a willy only smaller!" by the slightly older girl next door.
And, in case you're wondering, yes it was our heaviest ever runs defeat, our previous match against Thurlow having been relegated to eighth place on the all-time list of such horrors.