Romsey Town vs. Camden III

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Trinity College (Old Field)

Camden III (203/6 in 40 6-ball overs)
defeated
Romsey Town (147 all out in 29.3 6-ball overs)
by 56 runs.

Scorer's awards:
1 point: Russell Woolf (2 off 15 balls; 2/26 from 5 overs)
0.5 points: Daniel Mortlock (28 off 26 balls; 0/36 from 10 overs)

How many ways can the same story be told? Probably lots, but it would be much nicer to have a different plot-line to unfold.

Would you believe that Romsey fielded first? And that, despite tight bowling from Daniel Mortlock (0/36) and Andy Owen (0/41), we went wicketless for the first hour as a pair of determined but fairly unremarkable batsmen (e.g., with league averages of 32.28 and 20.30, according to Camden's web-site) put on an 81-run partnership against us. Would you believe that the chances they offered were dropped (or, worse, the catch not even attempted)? And surely there's no way that our heads would have dropped at any stage?

Well, maybe not the latter: whatever else was true, we had seven front-line bowlers to try, so there was always the sense that we'd be able to find some method of delivery that would discomfort the batsmen. And, when we finally identified "slow left-arm 'round" as the method, the results were immediate. The previously calm batsman's response to Russell Woolf's (2/26) first ball was to come haring down the track and fall on his arse - given that he was stranded well outside his crease, he might have been stumped, but the ball was too wide for 'keeper Malcolm Creek to collect it. You might have thought that the batsman would have learned his lesson but he went for a big slog second ball, only to be comprehensively bowled. We got a few more wickets as Himanshu Agrawal (2/32) continued his good form and Andy Owen's quick thinking secured the first-ball run out of one of Camden's unfortunate juniors. Indeed, we should have gone through the entire line-up, but the catches kept going to ground, the main victim being poor Russ, who kept inducing false shots without reward. The nadir was when one of the Camden batsmen played a gentle push to point and ambled a single as two of our fielders strolled after the slowly moving ball - the batsmen ended up completing their run before either fielder had actually picked up the ball and were alert enough to scamper what turned out to be an embarrassingly easy second run (and they almost got a third when the belated return was wide of the mark). We did end up taking three catches, as Malcolm held onto two edges and Jon Steele denied "the fear" as he kept a calm head under a skier off Adrian Mellish (1/21). But six off the last ball took Camden to 203/6 which, if not too imposing on the batsman's paradise of Trinity, seemed decidedly non-trivial when it was mentioned that the opposition's noticably handy number eight batsman, David Coutts, was actually a bowler slumming it in the Junior 3, having come down from more usual lofty role with the seconds in Senior 1.

He was certainly tall and had a long run-up, but when his first ball was a horrendous beamer that Rod Dennis (10 off 6 balls) calmly helped to the boundary, any such claims seemed unfounded. However it turns out he hadn't bowled yet this season, and by combining prodigous bounce with accuracy, he soon had our top four back in the hutch as we flailed our way to 32/4. It already felt the match was over, and maybe even that we were half way to repeating our horrid 54 all out against Elsworth, given this season's lower order collapses of ??/?, ??/? and ??/?.

But, pleasingly, our middle/lower order mounted a serious comeback, with Marcelino Gopal (20 off 29 balls) seeing off the openers after which Daniel Mortlock (28 off 26 balls) and Malcolm Creek (18* off 23 balls) scored pretty freely against the change bowlers. Unfortunately, we kept losing wickets and all our batsmen were eventually out-scored by the 30 extras that Camden conceded. Rather bizarrely we were still up with the required run-rate even as our last wicket fell - our final run-rate of 4.98 was only a smidge below the 5.08 we needed. It was just a pity the Camden players were all happily sipping their post-match pints when we should have still been forcing them to bowl to us.