From the moment Andy sent an excited text saying "dan we now have nine!" it was hard to imagine today being immortalised in Romsey history as one of the club's great triumphs. However the abjectness of our capitulation was a surprise even given the back-story, as was the speed - this report was written on the 17:30 train from Cambridge to London.
Even with our complement boosted to 9.5 (the half being Matt Commin, who Andy guilted into attending for an innings while simultaneously revising for his finals), it was clear our best chance of a win was to bowl first in the hope of restricting a full-strength (and undefeated) Fulbourn side to a manageable total. And so of course we lost the toss and were invited to bat.
Their opening bowlers were certainly tight, with one quite lively and the other getting some handy away swing . . . although neither of those facts can explain the fact we scored just 23 runs from the 10 overs they bowled. But the fact that these two ended up being "the expsenive ones" does illustrate rather nicely our inability to score. Out of the 28 completed overs we made Fulbourn bowl, some 11 (i.e., 39%) were maidens; and we only scored more than six off an over once. That was during the patch that Matt (14) and Romsey first-timer Rob Eddington (13) were looking more than comfortable as they combined their youthful athleticism with proper batting techniques. By the stage we'd "raced" to 40/4 the game was far from over, but then we lost four of our remaining five wickets for 7 runs. That left Daniel Mortlock and Catherine Owen with some 16 overs to bat. They lasted five, as they put on the second-longest partnership of the innings. Daniel (13* off about a hundred balls) tried to farm the strike, but with minimal success - and possibly minimal need as well, Catherine middling the ball with regualarity and seeming right at home. Indeed, she was apparently obdurate enough to induce some sledging from the opposition, most of which centred on her rainbow-coloured trainers - she was sufficiently annoyed that she apparently almost informed the fielders in question to "Shut up - I'm trying to bat!", but sadly she opted to concentrate on playing some nice off drives instead. In the end she perished as so many before her, attempting an aggressive stroke, but her 1 (off 11 balls) was arguably the Romsey innings of the day.
Defending 59 was never going to be easy, but we at least came out knowing that we had to get wickets - for bowling points if nothing else. To this end Matt Commin (1/41) and Daniel Mortlock (0/18) gave it their all and were unlucky to get just the one Fulbourn scalp between them. Matt's approach was straight pace as he induced a number of edges and false strokes, inducing three catching chances in four balls at one stage. None of the chances were easy, but the fact that they all went to ground only increased the sense that it "just wasn't our day" (a rather passive sentiment to which even Nick succumbed). At the other end Daniel beat the bat a few times an over, but the main result was the ball repeatedly thudding into Andy's gloves - and the few times the ball did get the edge it went either un-caught or un-heard. That the winning runs came with an uncharacteristically decisive stroke - a cracking off drive that scooted to the boundary - was a little sprinkle of salt in our wounds.
Statistically speaking, today was our worst ever league performance - bowling second after such a poor batting performance meant we were robbed even of the chance to get a few wickets - and we came away from the day with just a single point, an "achievement" we've never previously managed. Most people headed straight off, eager to "polish a turd" by at least making something of the freed-up evening, and the final act of the day was Andy and Catherine cleaning up the empty club-house and loading up their bikes with the remains of their half-eaten tea in preparation for the long, slow ride back to Romsey Town.