Romsey Town vs. Elmdon

13:30, Saturday, July 6, 2013

Romsey Town (168/7 in 40 6-ball overs)
lost to
Elmdon (169/4 in 35.5 6-ball overs)
by 6 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

A look through the records reveals that Elmdon has proved a difficult opponent for Romsey, not just because we've lost our three previous matches against them, but because our away matches of 2001 and 2007 began with lots of Romsey players getting lost in the lanes of south Cambridgeshire (and, indeed, Essex). Surely in the age of smart phones and Google Maps, though, there'd be no such problems? In short: no. There's minimal mobile coverage around Elmdon and the signposting on those little roads leaves a lot to be desired. A representative case study is that in Andy's car, in which Russ was trying navigate by associating the printed directions (some of which were demonstrably wrong) with the various indistinguishable roads, while in the back Catherine and Daniel were desperately trying to get maps to load on their phones. To add to the fun, they got stuck behind a lone cyclist in Ickleton, although fortunately he turned off the main road . . . and so it was particularly galling, after an unintended detour through Great Chesterford, to be stuck behind the same bloody cyclist for a second time. Still, once we did actually find the ground we were greeted with a sight to warm any village cricketer's heart: a manicured ground backed by magnificent old trees and thatched cottages, with a lovely clubhouse nestled in the shade. The only down-side was the presence of a few rogue dog turds square of the wicket; but, as they were fielding first, it was up to the Elmdon fielders to wield the fiersome pooper-scooper, after which the scene really was picture perfect.

The picture perfect Elmdon cricket ground.

Despite some crunching boundaries, our innings once again began very slowly: 21/2 after 8 overs turned into 63/3 after 20 overs, after which we were always playing catch-up. Rod Dennis (23 off 39 balls) and Richard Rex (37 off 84 balls) made most of the early runs, after which Ferdi Rex (16 off 28 balls) looked a good bet to provide some much-needed acceleration before he was unlucky to have a beautifully-timed drive go straight to the only fielder within a hundred feet. (He might also have felt hard done by that the fielder in question held onto this bullet, although really the entire Elmdon fielding effort was superb - it was hard to keep count of the number of diving stops they made, an especially challenging task with the ball taking crazy bounces of the bumpy surface. The only bit of bad fielding that stood out was one occasion on which the ball dribbled past a well-positioned fielder who was presumably deceived by the fact that the ball stayed on the ground the whole way.)

After 31 overs we were just 107/5 and in danger posting a joke total; that we at least made it to respectability was largely due to Daniel Mortlock (33 off 27 balls) and Andy Owen (29 off 29 balls). There were lots of hyper-cheeky runs and several of Andy's trademark paddle-pulls, but the highlights were Daniel's two sixes, the first of which was a majestic straight drive that hit a nearby tree a-midships and the second of which loosened a few tiles on the pavilion roof. A misguided attempt to repeat the trick next ball provided the Elmdon 'keeper with an easy stumping, after which Girish Lakhwani (3* off 7 balls) and Rog Shelley (2* off 2 balls) ensured we got 10 runs off the final over. Our final of total of 168/7 was better seemed likely half an hour earlier, but didn't seem likely to be winning . . .

. . . especially after one of the Elmdon openers, D. Turner, put aside his shaky start (his first 10 balls were dots, and most hit his pads) to start smacking perfectly decent balls to the boundary. Thanks to his efforts Elmdon were cruising at 89/1 in the 16th over, and even after he was well stumped by Andy Owen (for 55 off 47 balls), there was no real doubt about the result. The victorious bowler was Rog Shelley (2/20), who conceded just 8 runs from his first 6 overs and at least put the breaks on. Ferdi Rex (1/33), Girish Lakhwani (0/25), Russell Woolf (1/8), Catherine Owen (0/14) and Robin Eddington (0/10) all bowled pretty well, but with so few runs to play with the batsmen could afford to wait for the bad balls, which seemed to come most overs. The only other bowler who really caused trouble was Richard Rex (0/7) who, despite having hurt his back while fielding, tortured the Elmdon middle order with his slow-flighted leg-breaks. He generated plenty of chances, but the ball either just missed the stumps or fell into the gaps.

Given that we weren't getting wickets, it seemed our best chance of victory was to hope that the entire side ended up "retired hurt". One batsman, who'd been complaining of cramps throughout his innings suddenly fell to the ground after playing a big pull; after lots of leg-stretching the eventual verdict was that he'd torn a muscle, and in the end one of the spectators had to drive out onto the ground to get him back to the pavilion. And then when his replacement was hit by a sandshoe-crusher from Robin it seemed we might be just a few more body-blows from a victory by knock-out. In the end such dreams were revealed to be just that - too much time in the hot afternoon sun, perhaps - and the winning run was hit with 25 balls still remaining (although even then a slightly more accurate throw from Ferdi, who'd been easily our best fielder, might have had yielded a run out with scores tied).

Yet another loss was all we had to show for our day's exertions, although at least there was the consolation of a bar at the ground, so we could enjoy a post-match pint before making the long journey back home.

The post-match scene.