Romsey Town vs. Romsey Town Old Boys

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Fitzwilliam College

Romsey Town Old Boys (67 all out in 17.5 6-ball overs and 143/9 in 25 6-ball overs)
lost to
Romsey Town (125/4 in 20 6-ball overs and 87/4 in 13 6-ball overs)
by 6 wickets.

A few months ago there were a few rumours going around that the Romsey team of the mid-'90s was going to reassemble to take on the current incarnation. As unlikely a task as this might have sounded upon first hearing, Richard Morris managed to get a full Romsey Town Old Boys eleven together in one place, with very few regulars from those days missing. The final team (with their all-time Romsey league records) was:

namematchesruns scoredbatting averagecatchesstumpingsdismissalswicketsbowling average
Dave Allsopp3841816.727072137.71
Nigel Arnold97134218.64180179719.45
James Arnold00-0000-
Phil Bradford96146017.80521533419.97
Pete Cornwell4525710.7110111340.33
Nick Florence4236412.13140141824.06
Tony Mendham23838.30707154.00
Richard Morris3362024.80110114815.83
Andy Ralph12297.254041814.89
Rog Shelley1337999.9919-1815818.80
Alfie Wilmshurst4930.384044422.61

James Arnold is Nige's 13-year-old son, yet to experience the joys of Romsey cricket, Rog played several games this year, and Andy turned out a few times in 2009, but otherwise the last time any of this formiddable eleven played from Romsey was back in 2004.

Old Romsey came into the day with nothing to lose - with most of the team not having played any cricket for at least half a decade, any poor shots or bad balls could happily be blamed on rustiness. The current team had no such luxury, though - anything other than a convincing victory would no doubt result in endless facebook teasing for the forseeable future. Today's Romsey eleven wasn't quite representative of the team that spent the year in the middle of the Junior 3B league table, but it had a fair pedigree as well:

namematchesruns scoredbatting averagecatchesstumpingsdismissalswicketsbowling average
Dave Clark46803.33202450.25
Malcolm Creek5127912.13715220-
Rod Dennis107178519.8321021834.50
Marcelino Gopal4254716.587075520.53
Paul Jordan29947.833032329.65
Daniel Mortlock123132321.694114216524.22
Andy Owen224508935.101241513928521.39
Catherine Owen200.000000-
Richard Rex1213319.006060-
Jon Steele4287124.19100100-
Russell Woolf1063208.4216-1512022.19

All such musings looked set to be rendered moot when the morning of game was full of wind and rain - at the nominal noon start time the covers were on and everyone was crowded into the ladies' changing room (not, sadly, because there were any fit women in there, but simply because it was the only spot that was out of the rain). The grumbles about it being unfair that rain came today of all days were just starting to warm up when the conditions followed suit, and pretty soon we were out on the field.

Old Romsey batted first and the rustiness excuse needed to be wheeled out pretty quickly as wickets fell quickly. Only Peter Cornwell (20) and Phil Bradford (7) got more than 4, although the final total of 65 all out was very "old Romsey" in the sense that we made these sorts of totals pretty regularly back in the '80s and '90s. Of course all this meant that New Romsey had a great time in the field and Dave Clark (1/10), Marcelino Gopal (3/14 and unlucky with it), Daniel Mortlock (1/4), Andy Owen (1/7), Catherine Owen (1/1), Richard Rex (1/2) and Russell Woolf (1/14) all came away with bowling figures to die for (but, possibly, a sense of frustration that they were limited to two-over spells).

Still, the Old Romsey bowlers had their fair share of success as well - at least if they were from the Arnold family: Nigel (1/15) certainly deserved his tidy figures, but the the real star was his son James (2/10), who delivered an immaculate spell in-duckers that none of the current Romsey players could deal with comfortably. The only problem was that James came onto bowl too late to stop Jon Steele smashing his way to 74 off just 56 balls, hence outscoring Old Romsey all by himself. As a result New Romsey finished the first of the two 20-over innings with a commanding 62-run lead.

A repeat of Old Romsey's first innings batting collapse might have led to an innings defeat, but things were very different the second time around. Despite Dave Clark (1/9), Paul Jordan (1/6), Daniel Mortlock (3/7), Catherine Owen (1/12) all doing rather nicely for themselves, there were enough loose balls for Dave Allsopp (17), Phil Bradford (22), Tony Mendham (21), Richard Morris (17) and Rog Shelley (28) to post a series of useful scores. 143/9 was an excellent few hours' work (even if this innings had been extended to 25 overs).

The result was that New Romsey was faced with a non-trivial chase of 86 to win - a couple of early wickets was all that would be required to make it an even match. And, indeed, that's just what we got as James Arnold (3/4) picked up where he left off in the first innings to take a stunning hat-trick. Fortunately for New Romsey he ran out of overs, and after that Marcelino Gopal (38 off 33 balls) took out his frustrations on the rest of the Old Romsey attack while Rod Dennis (7 off 14 balls) and Andy Ralph (0/17) seemed determined to take out their frustrations on each other. In the end New Romsey's chase was pretty comfortable as Jon Steele (16*) and Daniel Mortlock (15*) calmly hit the winning runs with 2 of the allotted 15 overs to spare.

With the sun still shining and plenty of beer left we still had a few hours to relive the memories of deeds past - although some how the reminiscences always seemed to come back to horrific Romsey defeats . . .