Romsey Town vs. Cambourne II

13:30, Saturday, May 19, 2012
Trinity College (Old Field)

Romsey Town (168/7 in 40 6-ball overs)
lost to
Cambourne II (169/7 in 40 6-ball overs)
by 3 wickets.

Richard Rex penned this report of today's game:

The predictions of a fine afternoon that had been aired towards the end of the week had been washed away by steady rainfall in Cambridge on Friday evening, in what most of the team gloomily took as a return to form for the wettest drought in English history. It was therefore with some surprise that the team assembled at Trinity Old Field for the first (or third) league game of the season. Groundsman Darren Wood confirmed that, had he not put the covers in place the previous day, the game would certainly have been off, as one could easily guess from the pool of mud in front of the pavilion steps.

Beneath grey skies and in the finest of drizzle Cambourne won the toss and chose to bowl. Things did not get any brighter as Rod Dennis played sensibly and cautiously forward to the first ball, which set the tone for the day by passing comfortably beneath his bat to strike the off stump. Caution redoubled, Dom Summers and Nick Clarke set about recovery on what was one of the slowest and lowest tracks we have seen at Trinity. Progress was sticky. Cambourne's attack may not have seemed very threatening (it is hard to be sure, so unresponsive was the turf), but it mostly kept a naggingly tight line, while short balls were hard to put away. Nick soon followed Rod back to the pavilion, and while Dom and Roy Page briefly took advantage the pace on the new ball, when Roy was the third man bowled, we were in some trouble. Ideal situation for Richard Rex, who, with a perfect excuse to play his natural game, blocked happily away while Dom began to play more expansively. Too expansively, it turned out: an early drive led to an easy enough catch (Dom Summers: 31 off 51).

55/4 was worrying, but then the game was turned on its head by the arrival at the crease of Matt Commin, oozing confidence fresh from an unbeaten century for his college on Friday. Equipped, it soon transpired, with fully functioning eyes and enough muscles for two students, he set about the bowling with some vim, signalling his intentions with a huge straight six. There ensued one of the more bizarre Romsey partnerships of recent years, an intriguing contrast of the volcanic and the glacial: at one end, Matt batting in real time to compile a brutal half-century, and at the other Richard apparently operating in geological time to compile another dot-ball epic. The fifty partnership (Commin 44, Rex 6) was marked with enthusiastic applause, as the prospect of a challenging total came into focus. The unequal partnership had passed the 30th over when Matt too played over a low one and was bowled (for 67 off 48 balls, and 67 out of 78 runs scored while he was at the crease).

New batsman Andy Owen kept the scoreboard moving with the usual mixture of cheeky improvisation and improbable running, but he too went the way of almost all of us after scoring 22 in even time. Himanchu Agrawal played expansively, but had no time to adjust to the lack of pace and bounce. The final over presented a rare sight as Richard (20 off 71 balls) was bowled by one which struck top of middle: but it had only reached these dizzy heights by avoiding contact with the ground on the way, passing slowly beneath the tired waft offered against it.

168 always looked defensible in the grim conditions of this excessively English spring, and the Romsey bowling put on some real pressure, backed up by tight fielding. Cambourne's wicket-keeper-opener launched one Gilchrist-like six off Rog (10-1-42-2), but apart from that the scoring was as laborious for them as it had been for us. More so in fact. After ten overs Cambourne were behind even our run-rate. But with wickets in hand, the pressure was not unbearable, even if it did lead to the unlikeliest spot-bet moment of the match: Adie Mellish to take the first catch of the season as an underhit slog looped gently to him at mid-off.

The second quarter saw Cambourne get back towards the required rate, and at this point the game was swinging their way. They made steady progress in the third quarter until the loss of their remaining opener led to a brief flurry of wickets and the run rate began to fall away. Good work in the field had now made Romsey slight favourites, and at 113/7 Cambourne appeared to be subsiding towards stasis and defeat. Matt Commin, offering the only serious pace of the match, had proved all but unplayable, and returned figures of 10-2-21-2 (the two wickets came in two balls). His final ball was one of only two in the entire day to pass the stumps above bail-height after actually pitching (the other was bowled by Himanchu). As the required rate rose to six, seven, and almost eight, we felt victory within our grasp. But the warning signs were there: the wickets had stopped falling, as the Cambourne 8th wicket pair of N. Thompson and D. White had steadied their ship with some sensible low-risk batting. Eight an over off the last three is always reachable. Even so, when it came to 11 off Andy's last over, and 8 off the last three balls, surely even we could not . . .

Only unscientific slogging was likely to yield 7 off 2, and Andy packed the shorter, leg-side, boundary to cut off Cambourne's last hope of escape. But the first heave to cow corner passed neatly between Nick and Richard as they closed in from opposite sides. 3 off 1? Romsey still favourites on this sticky wicket, especially as the second heave to cow went straight to Nick. But klassic keystone kricket then set in: the throw from deep midwicket ended up halfway down the track, where it was picked up by Richard, who had prudently sprinted in from deep square leg to back it up, only to throw on the turn to the wrong end. A mad scramble then saw the ball, Andy, and the other batsman arrive at the bowler's end in a simultaneous and inextricable tangle. The umpire's decision was final, the appeal for run-out was declined, and the third run was awarded.

For Cambourne, the momentary illusion of brilliant sunshine as they basked in the glow of victory. For Romsey, grey skies and wry smiles, our only consolation derived from 7 bonus points and the sense of a great match. Loads of "if only" moments, of course, as in every game one could or should have won. But plenty of positives too. And at least we actually got to play a game.