Romsey Town vs. Waterbeach

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Romsey Town (76/3 in 27.4 6-ball overs)

The above definition (especially the second example) sums up today in a single word. It was cold. It was windy. It rained all day. And yet twenty-two Romsey and Waterbeach players spent a total of about 70 man hours (i.e., the equivalent of about GBP 500, even at minimum wage) trying to finish our miserable cricket game.

The morning was filled with endless phonecalls that all promised to be the expected "It's off, mate" that would free up our afternoons, but instead we found ourselves heading inexorably to Waterbeach's windswept recreation ground. Not at any great rate, mind: we numbered just seven at the appointed starting time and, even though we'd have liked to have bowled on strategic grounds, had no choice but to accept the Waterbeach captain's suggestion that Romsey bat first on what would almost certainly be a tricky wicket.

And so it turned out: our top order of Roy Page (2 off 12 balls), Nick Clarke (13 off 18 balls) and Arnie Garside (6 off 26 balls) saw balls flying past their outside edges, bouncing up off a length into their chests, or staying low and seaming by a foot or more. Nick clubbed an imperious six off one of the few loose balls he received, but otherwise it was a case of trying to survive for as long as possible, which all three did valiantly.

For the rest of us it was a case of trying to look busy in order to avoid umpiring duty (which was probably even less enjoyable than fielding, since that at least involved some running around). Adrian "Spurs" Mellish, for instance, went straight for our opponents' scorebook, and refused to leave his post even when his horse bolted after it was startled by what sounded like a huge explosion outside the pavilion. This cacophany, in turn, came when Daniel Mortlock decided it would be vital to help the local support squad transport a crate of tea cups from a storage shed - the crate disintegrated in transit and most of the cups ended up in pieces, but at least he was back in the warmth of the clubhouse a minute later. It was also noticeable that about half the team was padded up at any one time - this might have been just to keep their legs warm, but also served the useful purpose of making them an apparently inappropriate choice as umpire. In the end most of us did officiate for at least a few overs, but spare a thought most of all for Julius Rix, playing his first Romsey game - he didn't bat, didn't bowl and didn't field . . . but was made to spend half an hour in the freezing wind calling wides and turning down LBW appeals.

The latter were an understandable result of the fact that Waterbeach bowled very well, the ball hitting the pad (or the body) about as often as the bat hit the ball; although our batsmen generally came forward far enough to take the lateral movement - and LBWs - out of the equation. The large number of wides were, presumably, a consequence of the muddy footmarks and the increasingly slippery ball, and the eventual total of 28 was by far the largest single contribution to our total. Whilst we'll happily accept any such charitable donations, it's rather worrying that, if they were eligible, wides would be topping the Romsey "most runs scored" table for 2010, their current aggregate of 44 (in two matches) being greater than that of any of our batsmen. Second and third on that list at the moment are Richard Rex and Andy Owen, who today were undefeated on 9* (off an epic 71 balls, the slowest 40+ ball Romsey innings on record) and 15* (off 31 balls), respectively, when the rain finally drove the players from the ground. By this stage we were maybe starting to score freely for the first time, and our score of 76/3 after 27.4 overs could possibly have been built into 120-odd, probably a competitive total in these conditions.

We mulled over such possibilities as we tucked into an early - and delicious - tea, but as everyone warmed up with some of the most welcome cuppas in history, it seemed the will to finish the game drained from the players, and after a cursory pitch inspection the game was finally called off. Aside from being a sensible decision, it seems this is very much in the natural order of things, given that both the 2008 fixtures between our clubs were rained off. However a closer investigation reveals some grounds for optimism: whilst our first match that year was cancelled on the Friday, we at least made it to the ground for the return match before it too was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Given that we played about a third of a game today, maybe we'll finally get a full 80 overs in when we play Waterbeach again in late June . . .