The first battle to win today was against the weather: with south-east England no longer "drought-stricken" it wasn't clear we'd get a game at all. We did indeed go off for rain once or twice during the afternoon, but the sky was blue and the Sun shining by game's end.
Unfortunately, it was also true that the game's end came embarrassingly early, as St Giles's strong top order had chased down our total at comfortably more than a run a ball. We had been almost completely impotent in the field, with Matt Commin (1/29) the only bowler to go for less than 5 an over and some pretty sorry ground-fielding efforts. By the end of the thrashing our energy levels were so low that even bending down to pick up a rolling ball had become a challenge, and it was somehow symbolic that the winning runs came when the ball ricocheted off an out-stretched foot and over the boundary. Not that there weren't some good efforts: Rod Dennis and Marcelino Gopal both made some great stops at gully; Nick Clarke kept up last week's good work close-in; Trinity groundsman Darren Wood made some goalie-like saves on his Romsey debut; and 'keeper Andy Owen was impeccable standing back to Matt (off whom he took a good catch) and sharp standing up to everyone else, as evidenced best by a late-match stumping. This came when Adrian Mellish (1/46), faced with an set batsman who was coming down the track to him, cleverly sent down the ball too wide for him to reach - it meant another "bonus point" for us, as well as being a nice personal victory for Adie.
We also began the game with a similar little win when non-striker Nick Clarke correctly predicted that mid-week team-mate Naveen Chouksey, playing for St Giles today, would begin the game with a leg-side wide. This he duly did, but he soon had his revenge when he bowled Nick (5 off 6 balls) with a superb in-swining yorker. After that Rod Dennis (15 off 59 balls) and Jon Steele (34 off 46 balls) did a superb job of rebuilding our innings - at 65/1 in the 17th over we were maybe scoring a little slowly, but with 9 wickets in hand it seemed reasonable to aspire to at least 180. This impression was reinforced when St Giles's change bowlers began a little more loosely than the openers, with one Austin Wiehahn, in particular, having been milked for 13 runs from his first 17 balls without too much fuss.
But the rest of his spell was rather different: W | . . . W . . | . . . . . . | 1 . . . W . | . . . . . . | . . . . . . | . W . . W . | . . . . . . |, or 7.1 overs, 6 maidens, 5/1. Maybe more remarkable - and certainly more important - was that Wiehahn's success was not the result of sending down unplayable deliveries, but primarily of discipline, of finding a good line and sticking to it, with the addition of a few yorkers and a bit of lateral movement. It's also noteworthy that his spell straddled two rain breaks, neither of which was enough to put him off his rhythm. 65/1 became 79/5, then 99/8 and then 106/9 - we'd lost 41/8 and it seemed total humiliation was on the cards. Daniel Mortlock (39* off 42 balls, although it was 39* off 35 balls once he switched to using Matt's bat) and Romsey first-timer John Moore (8* off 15 balls) scampered their way to an enjoyable last-wicket partnership of 40* off just 36 balls, to lift us to 147/9 and at least give us something to smile about in the changing rooms during the inter-innings break . . .
. . . although those smiles didn't last long when confronted by The Smell which had invaded our rooms. The Smell probably couldn't be blamed for our bad bowling performance, but it was a pretty decent metaphor for our day - hopefully also in the sense that it didn't last. With a week's break to lick our wounds, hopefully we can start the second half of our season afresh.