Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The BBC weather forecast for Cambridge today proclaimed non-stop rain from 2pm 'til 6pm. Obviously, it's nobody's idea of a perfect spring day, but for a village cricketer it's a nightmare: the clear skies in the morning obliges everyone to turn up and go through the motions in the likelihood is that it'll all come to nowt.
Still, conditions were reasonable when Rod Dennis (12 off 42 balls) and Nick Clarke (10 off 23 balls) went out to open our innings against Ashwell, and the overall standard of the game was high for the first hour, the bowlers and fielders giving nothing away while Rod and Nick remained disciplined. After Nick's dismissal - bowled by the best of the Ashwell attack, whose figures of 1/25 don't really do him justice - the war of attrition intensified, Rod and new batsman Richard Rex seemingly trying "out-dot" each other as they both endured 20-ball scoreless sequences.
This healthy competition had an amusing echo off the field as a procession of tennis players arrived and started sniffing around our changing rooms. We eventually settled on the rather obvious solution of locking the door, but not before one player took umbrage when he was informed that it was irrelevant that he'd "been playing here for fifty years", leading to that most Cambridge of rhetorical questions, "Are you always this rude?" The instant answer should have been something like "Yes, this is representative of my typical rudeness, although that in no way constitutes any sort of admission of rudeness of a significant absolute level", but a bout of l'esprit d'escalier meant Daniel only offered up the rather less interesting response "No".
Part of the reason that such minor dramas got so much attention was that there was no cricket to focus on: at the moment we were resuming after drinks the ground was soaked in a deluge that, but for the advent of The Covers, would have ended the game. We took an early (and unhappily meat-free) tea and then resumed our innings at a rather unimposing 53/2 after 20 overs.
We did start to accelerate eventually, as Richard (47 again, this time off 108 balls) honed his leg glance, Cameron Petrie (20 off 21 balls) played some lovely drives, Marcelino Gopal (11* off 12 balls) rotated the strike effectively, and Roy Page (38 off 34 balls) was highly inventive, before unluckily being run out off the last ball of the innings. We finished on 155/5 - hardly a triumph and not usually a competitive score at Trinity, but maybe defendable in today's rather strange conditions.
Our defense began with an illustration of why it seemed likely we'd be being outplayed: Girish Lakhwani (0/20) and Daniel Mortlock (2/30) both sent down immaculate opening overs, save for one slightly off-line ball . . . both of which the Ashwell openers calmly hit to the boundary in the sort of risk-free fashion that is all too familiar from watching someone like Alastair Cook bat. The real story was in the conditions, though, which worsened noticably with each over. With the now heavy rain sliding across the ground Daniel reluctantly ambled in to send down another ball, but slipped in his delivery stride and succeeded only in delivering a half-pace half-tracker . . . which the batsman played too early, somehow contriving to lob the ball straight to mid-off. In ordinary circumstances it would have been the simplest of chances, but with the wind and the rain it was quite a challenge, so full credit to Richard Rex for holding onto the slippery ball, even as everyone else was once again running for the shelter of the pavilion.
And that's how 22 grown men - hard types who thought nothing of playing a tough sport in which pain and injury were just a mis-judged hook away - found themselves cowering from some falling water while two female Trinity students continued to ply their trade on the now soaking tennis courts. Suitably shamed, there was no choice but to go back out - especially when Darren said he was happy for us to keep playing on the ground - meaning two keen Ashwell batsmen were joined by eleven somewhat less enthusiastic Romsey fielders.
Having christened Daniel's new technique The Goof Ball, Marcelino Gopal (1/48) immediately took a wicket with his far superior Zen Ball, providing us with a metaphorical ray of sunshine that was, surprisingly, matched a by its literal counterpart. Sadly, both were short-lived, as the incumbent Ashwell batsmen progressed every bit as comfortably as you'd expect of good players confronted with a regular diet of leg-side full-tosses - the bowlers struggled to grip the now sodden ball, which was harshest in particular on off-spinner Faruk Kara (0/18 on Romsey debut). Still, the fielding was excellent, as Marcelino made some Jonty Rhodes style saves at gully, Rod Dennis put his body on the line repeatedly at point and Andy Owen was brilliant behind the stumps. He took a sharp catch off Daniel and completed a neat stumping off Cameron Petrie (1/26), thus justifying his decision not to "shoot himself" after last week's horror run.
Despite our best efforts, at drinks we really only had rain to hope for: Ashwell were 101/4, meaning they had 19 overs to score just 56 more runs. And we suddenly had just nine players, as both Richard and Daniel had to leave. The last half an hour of the match was predictably one-sided, and in the end Ashwell finished us off with more than 10 overs to spare.