Romsey Town's 2009 season began under a cloud - literally - with the weather forecast for our warm-up game against NCI being heavy rain that would see at least some of us having to make good on our promises to go clothes shopping if the game was called off. But the day fined up nicely, and a Romsey X (which included new recruits Nick Clarke and Kiran Sakhamuri) got a much-needed pre-season run around.
Batting first, Daniel Mortlock (16 off 24 balls with 3 fours), Nick Clarke (7 off 12 balls, including a cracking four off the first ball he faced as a Romsey player) and Jon Steele (19 off 24 balls) got starts, but unfortunately also got finishes as all three were bowled by the moving ball. The innings was in some trouble at 65/4 after 13 overs, and with over half the innings gone our target of 150 had been reduced to a fantasy. But then Marcelino Gopal went on the rampage, smashing the ball high and wide on his way to 83 off just 58 balls. This included 11 fours, a six with ricocheted off a bus and onto Nick's new Mercedes, and several other towering shots that could easily have been sixes on a smaller ground. One of these went straight to a fielder in the deep, but it was with almost comic certainty that the swirling ball would dive-bomb through his hands and into the soft turf. (Richard Rex idly asked what speed a ball coming down from fifty feet would obtain; the answer, neglecting air resistence, is a rather unterrifying 60 km/h, slower than a decent throw.) The dropped catch, whilst difficult, was indicative of the fact that the wheels had fallen off for NCI, whilst we were motoring. Andy Owen (33* off 27 balls with 5 fours) was the perfect support for Lino, and they compiled a 121 run partnership in 12 rather eventful overs.
Heading out to defend 185 in 25 overs, it was hard not to think that the match was already won. An asking rate of 7.44 an over was surely too much, even if NCI were ahead of the required rate from the moment their opener hit the first ball of the innings for four. It's possible that they batted well, but they never really had to, as we fed their batsman an enticing banquet of leg-side full tosses for them to dismiss to the boundary. Our first bowling success didn't come until the 20th over, and even then it required a sliding catch on the boundary by Jon Steele. Richard Rex (1/31) was the successful bowler, and Andy Owen (1/5) added another wicket next over, but other than that the only inroads we'd made into the NCI line-up were when one went for a casual second run, another was hit on the head and retired hurt (but okay), and two retired upon reaching fifty. Otherwise it was hopelessly one-sided, with only Andy, Kiran Sakhamuri (0/23) and Daniel Mortlock (0/16) going for less than a run a ball; and the winning runs were hit with 13 balls still to come (i.e., NCI had scored at 8.5 an over).
For NCI it represented a nice start to their triple-header (they were to take on two other teams during the day); for Romsey it was a much needed chance to brush off a few cobwebs prior to the start of the season proper (against Weston Colville next Saturday). And whilst it seems we've already our rectified last season's major problem (i.e., batting - we scored more in 25 overs than in any 40-over league game last year), let's hope we've not also unearthed a new one in the form of fulltossitis.