Once again it was another journey south to start the day, but rathe than ending up at a nice but unremarkable village rec, we found ourselves unloading our kits in the grounds of Audley End House. And, even better, the cricket ground is essentially the manor house's front garden, so the game was played out in what has been voted one of the country's top hundred cricket venues.
Batting first (again), our opening pair of Roy Page (11) and Olly Harris (17) got starts (again), but it was left to the middle order of Jon Steele (22), Marcelino Gopal (an awesome 54) and Andy Owen (23) to score the bulk of the runs (again). At 133/4 after 24 overs we were headed towards 200 (again), but a lower order collapse (again) meant we ended up failing to bat out our overs (again), finishing up 159 all out (in stark contrast to previous totals of 150 all out, 134 all out, 137 all out, and 175 all out). The last third of our innings was the most excruciating slow death as we lost 25/5 in 15.4 overs.
Still, we put in a great effort in the field, with all our bowlers getting at least one wicket and being economical to boot. Paul Jordan (1/33), Tom Jordan (1/29) and Marcelino Gopal (1/30) all did well, but the real stars were the old hands Andy Owen and Rog Shelley who, between them, got through 20 overs with combined figures of 4/58. Add in good catches to the ever-reliable Rod Dennis and Jon Steele and surely the game must have been pretty close?
Yes it was: at the start of the last over Little End needed 3 more to win, which should have been pretty easy but for the fact they were facing the leg spin of Tom Jordan, who's been too good for several teams in similar situations. After several of dot balls the newer of the two batsmen got a single, leaving his partner (who already had fifty and was playing very well) to finish things off. He immediately came down the track to smack the winning runs, only to find the ball turning past his outside edge and Roy Page whipping off the bails in a flash. That left us with tensest possible conclusion: one ball left; one run to tie; two runs to win; and a new batsmen on strike. Tom ran in, floating the ball into the right area; the batsman swished across the line, more in hope than certainty, but he connected well and the ball flew out towards Marcelino on the boundary. He made a great diving stop as the batsmen completed the first run, but the ball had bounced away from him as they turned for the second. Marcelino grabbed the ball and hurled it back towards the wicket, but the batsmen were home, and Audleyberry had won a thriller off the last ball.
Andy was instistent that a tie would have been a fair result, but really it was another case of throwing away a good situation -- it's almost impossible to score just 25 runs from 94 balls, and yet that's how we managed to set Endlybury such a gettable total.