For the epilogue to our wonderful cricket season we got the perfect Cambridge day: Parker's Piece felt almost endless as we (and, seemingly, half the town) spent the day basking in the sunshine under the most glorious of blue skies. We brought the season to a close as we had begun it, with a friendly against NCI, although rather than a single-innings 25-over game (as we played all the way back in April) we went for a double Twenty/20 today, thus hopefully paving the way for the ICC to try out this format at the international level.
NCI batted first and scored at a reasonable rate, despite the best efforts of one of their openers, who seemed concerned primarily with calling his partners through for absurd runs. This resulted in the first of six run outs in which he was involved during the day, a figure that would have been remarkable enough even ignoring the fact that we fielded like a bunch of numpties. Indeed, we would have dismissed them for about sixty if we'd held the chances provided by the increasingly frustrated bowlers. The most frustrated of all, understandably, was Catherine Owen who should have had her first ever five-for, but had to make do with 1/25. NCI's middle order became increasingly dominant as the innings went on and in the end they posted what was clearly a good total on the troublesome Parker's Piece pitch.
Our first innings was pretty uninspiring, as best evidenced by the fact that our top scorer was one of our NCI substitutes, Ed Ashfield, who made 17 (off 26 balls). We went within a whisker of being all out, and wouldn't have lasted the 20 overs but for the fact that we batted all the way down to twelve, finishing up on a decidedly binary-looking 100/10.
NCI's second innings was, implausibly, even more anarchic than their first, with the run outs mounting at an even greater rate this time around (bringing the total to seven for the day). For our part Paul Jordan (0/10 and four maiden overs for the day) and Daniel (0/16) were both superb with the ball, once again, but this time got some very effective support from Owens Andy (2/8) and Catherine (1/22), Kiran Sakhamuri (1/12) and Dave Williams (2/14).
The result of all this was that Romsey was presented with the par target: if we could get 119 runs we'd have completed a nice come-from-behind win to end our season. After a few early wickets Rod Dennis (23 off 16 balls) and Daniel Mortlock (32 off 18 balls) got us back on track with a few big sixes, but when both were dismissed in quick succession it seemed our chase was done. Still, new batsman Andy Owen (17* off 13 balls) refused to give up, and despite wickets falling at the other end, we began the last over with him and Catherine (0* off 1 balls) still together and a not impossible 18 runs needed for victory. A couple of twos kept us in the hunt, and then a huge six over the scorers' heads suddenly got everyone very excited: we now needed 8 off 3 balls. Two more off the fourth delivery kept the match alive, but then the beleagured NCI bowler managed a dot to finally end our challenge.
Thus we book-ended our generally successful season with a pair of defeats to NCI on their home turf of Parker's Piece - perhaps if we'd made them play at Fortress Trinity we'd have been able to even the ledger. Still, it was a massively enjoyable game, played in magnificent conditions, with a thrilling ending to boot.