Out of all the games Romsey ``should have won'' over the years, this was one of the most winnable ever. If we'd batted a bit more sensibly we would have won. If we'd run all the easy singles that we missed we would have won. If we'd called all the waist-high full-tosses that were delivered in our direction we would have won. If we'd not conceded about thirty byes and overthrows we would have won. If we'd taken more than one of the dozen catches that came our way we would have won. But we didn't do any of those things, and so we lost. And this is the story of how we did it.
After winning the toss we immediately decided to bat, thus forcing Thriplow to field in the sapping heat, and Rod Dennis (8, with 1 four) and Oliver Harris (35, with 7 fours) promptly got off to a great start, racing to 25/0 after 3 overs. The truth wasn't quite so rosy, however: all the runs had come from a single erratic over that included a wide and a couple of over waist-high no balls, whereas the other opening bowler got prodigious movement in both directions, not conceding even a single run 'til his fourth over. And the replacement bowler at the other end, whilst slower and not moving the ball quite as much, got just reward for his consistency, bagging figures of 4/20 as we lost 4/14 in the space of about 20 balls.
Once again Andy Owen (13, with 1 four) was left to stem the flow of wickets, today finding an ally in Jon Steele. Jon played his natural game and, possibly inspired by the presence of his adoring girlfriend Elaine, completely dominated his partnerhip with Andy, finishing up with 51 (including 8 fours). When these two came together we were in a real mess at 73/5 (albeit after just 13.3 overs); after 28 overs that had become 132/5 and, like last week, 200 was ours for the making. Instead our innings ended up with a steady stream of wickets and, for the third time this year, we failed to bat out our overs. There were some highlights (Arnie's home-run six, pulled off his nipples; Russ's big heaves at the death) but to have ended up with just 175 against a bowling attack that was tidy more than threatening was criminal.
What wasn't disappointing were the inter-innings refreshments. As if the freshly-made scones with jam, cream and fresh strawberries weren't enough, Elaine had gone into town and brought back a goodie bag of Magnums, Calippos and ice-cold Cokes. Combined with the endless fun to be had from the trampoline-like catching machine, the period between innings was probably the most enjoyable of the day.
Back out in the middle, Romsey and Thriplow found themselves engaged in a war of attrition: we couldn't get any wickets and they couldn't get many runs, so it was tense stuff all the way. Neither Daniel Mortlock (0/25) nor Andy Owen (0/28) troubled the batsmen too much, but both were economical, and so maybe could take a bit of credit for the one wicket to fall . . . but really that was down Jon ``can do no wrong'' Steele, who effected a direct-hit run out from mid-on.
Meanwhile, Thriplow were gradually getting their chase into gear. From 14/0 after 8 overs to 44/1 after 15 overs to 59/1 after 20 overs they avoided the trap of letting the required rate get above six an over, all while keeping wickets in hand. And, given that one of their batsmen was overheard saying ``We want to be 60 after 20 overs and then 110 after 30'' they were, despite the missing run, presumably happy with the state of play after 20 overs . . . although it was really quite bizarre that, after 30 overs, their total was -- you guessed it -- exactly 110.
During that time we'd taken three more wickets, and felt that we were slight favourites, with two new batsmen at the crease finally having to score at more than a run a ball. Russell Woolf (2/31) had carried on where he left off last week with another superbly controlled spell and Jon Steele (yes, him again) had taken an hilariously spectacular catch when, having misjudged a lofted drive, he found he'd come in too far . . . but then leapt up, extended a four-foot tentacle, and grasped the ball in one hand as he fell to the ground, delirious with delight. And the bowlers -- combined with the pressure of the situation -- generated plenty more chances in the next few overs, but unfortunately we couldn't take any of them. There were a total of at least ten dropped or bungled chances for the innings (all by different fielders, weirdly), and whilst most were pretty tricky, taking any two should have been enough to change the result in our favour. The whole debacle was summed up in a two ball sequence where one fielder dropped a sitter on the boundary and then, next delivery, held onto a bullet . . . that had been hit off a surprising back-foot no ball.
In short, the wheels had fallen off, although it would be churlish not to acknowledge the level-headed and decisive way Kevin Scully, the Thriplow number five, made the most of our lapses. The bad balls were dispatched with minimum fuss -- he ended up with 7 four and 5 sixes on his way to 65 not out -- but in-between times he made use of our scattered field to run clever twos or retain the strike with cheeky singles.
And that, boys and girls, is the story of how Romsey town lost to Thriplow. It was all highly depressing, but would you believe at least eleven cricketers had an even worse time in Junior 2 South B today, and by quite some way too? While our previous opponents, Abington II, must have felt much like we did today after they'd imploded to lose to us by 13 runs last week, lord only knows their state of mind after they'd been bowled out for 23 by Audley End today.