Having been spared a possible thumping by the undefeated league leaders when it rained last week, we were very happy to have a sunny conditions today as we took on second-last placed Elsworth. Our luck continued when Andy won the toss and hence gave the bowlers access the shiny new ball for the four or five overs of the game that it would actually be shiny.
Ferdi Rex (2/29), opening the bowling for the first time in a league game, made good use of the new ball, swinging it both ways and getting the first two wickets to fall, one thanks to an excellent catch by his dad. At the other end Daniel Mortlock (0/12) couldn't get the ball to curve at all, and was thus unable to extend his season's mammoth wicket tally beyond it's current 2; however he ended up bowling his most economical league spell ever, so it at least represented some sort of moral victory. Our first change bowlers then kept up this study in contrasts as Olly Rex (0/11) was hyper-economical and Rog Shelly (2/46) made more key breakthroughs.
That said, Rog was a little rusty, and when a full bunger was pulled to the boundary Daniel was moved to a short square-leg position, despite his protests that it was "stupid to set a field for a leg-side full toss". Indeed, Rog's next ball was much better and beat the bat, but deflected off the batsman's pad for what seemed likely to be a pretty easy leg bye. The batsman certainly thought so, as he ambled to the non-striker's end, but Daniel saw this and fired off a pot shot . . . which hit the target as the batsman was one step short of making his ground. So after that Daniel shut up and went where he was told, leaving Andy free to make some increasingly baroque field settings as the innings went on.
The rest of the innings was actually fairly dull. We kept bowling tightly and fielding well; the batsmen kept defending resolutely and scoring where they could; and the whole thing just sort of petered out. Andy Owen (2/31) took a couple of wickets (taking his season's tally to 13 - nobody else has more than 4!); Rod Dennis held onto a skier despite clearly getting The Fear; and, er, that was about it, really.
Over tea there was some discussion of Rod and Nick's record as an opening pair - and thanks to the efforts of Nicky Mellish (absent today due to illness - hopefully she's better soon), it can be reported that their partnership record is superb. With 1278 runs at 44.07 with 6 fifties and 4 hundreds it's considerably better than either of their individual records, suggesting that they really bring the best out in each other. And when they both hit lovely cover drives to get off the mark today it seemed we might have been on the way to Nick's desired ten-wicket victory . . . but when both were back in the hutch with just 18 on the board it was time to reassess and just go for any sort of victory we could manage.
Richard Rex (23 off 63 balls) and Roy Page (30 off 46 balls) then rebuilt superbly, as they played pretty chancelessly and, eventually, got the scoreboard ticking over as well. Their own partnership soon passed fifty, although then they got strangely stuck, with Richard in particular going back down a gear: he scored just 2 off his first 24 balls, then accelerated nicely to take 19 off his next 18 balls, after which there was a strange mid-innings dot fest as he scored just 2 off his next 21 deliveries. More problematic, though, was that "mid-innings" turned into "late-innings" when Roy went for a crazy run on a mis-field and Richard rather generously left his ground just at the moment that the wicket was broken at the other end of the pitch. A few more wickets then meant that a comfortable 76/2 was suddenly a rather precarious 88/5, and Elsworth were a real chance for the first time all day.
Not only did we have two new batsmen at the crease, in Ferdi and Olly Rex, but, being impetuous teenagers, it seemed all too plausible that they might go for an unnecessary slog if they'd got bogged down or the pressure got too much. Not a bit of it: they both kept their form, played everything along the ground, effortlessly punished the bad balls and put on a match-winning 48-run partnership off just 45 balls. (Actually, Olly did reveal his youth right at the end, when he tried to smash a huge six to win the game, but sanity prevailed a ball later when he finished things off with a lovely on-drive instead.) Ferdi (32* off 45 balls) and Olly (19* off 13 balls) were thus clapped from the ground by their proud parents and the relieved Romsey lower order.
Today's win surely means we've avoided relegation pleasingly early in the season - our league average of 12.17 is now more than double those of Elsworth (5.20) and Cherry Hinton (4.00). Indeed, some convenient results today mean that we've bubbled up to fourth place and are closer to promotion than relegation . . .