Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The day started with controversy, the village cricket cliche of a batsman not walking after getting a thin edge to the 'keeper. The only unusual thing this time was that the putative edge occurred more than a decade ago - one of the Little Shelford supporters apparently has either an incredible memory or a bit too much time on his hands, given that our two clubs last played in 2002 and the best candidate for the match in question was even further back, in 2000. The scene was thus set for a highly charged encounter, and the match did have its fair share of, er, intense moments, including an appeal for bowled being turned down and the opposition captain trying to stand his ground when he'd been rather more decisively castled. None of this influenced the result, mind, which was decided primarily by difference between the two sides' bowling attacks.
Ours got first - indeed only - use of the new ball, although our decision to bowl didn't appear likely to be rewarded. One of the Little Shelford openers combined some nice cuts with some fortunate thick edges (once again proving the maxim that if you're going to slash, slash hard) to take his team to a worryingly healthy 35/0 after 6 overs. The total seemed set to increase further off the first ball of the 7th over when the other batsman played a rather streaky cut that zoomed past Catherine Owen at point . . . but she got her hand to the ball, and did well to take the pace off it . . . but the rebound was still within her reach, and she kept her composure to pouch the ball at the third attempt, letting out a squeal of delight as she realised she'd taken a superb catch. It wasn't just a great bit of fielding, though, but constituted a critical breakthrough that opened the floodgates, an opening that Daniel Mortlock (5/43) exploited as he got both lateral movement and lively bounce from the pitch. Girish Lakhwani also held a good outfield catch and then he and Catherine - clearly our star fielders at this stage - combined for a clever run out, after which Little Shelford were in real trouble at 89/6 . . .
. . . at which point the (forecast) rain came. We quickly decided to go for an early tea, not that we could eat before first undertaking a massive search for Andy's wallet - he'd left it on a bench in the changing rooms only for it to have vanished in the time it had taken him to go to the toilet. Despite our best efforts we couldn't find his "grey cloth wallet with 'Guinness' on one side of it", and so he reluctantly rang home to get Denise to start cancelling his cards . . . only for her to immediately inform him that he'd left his wallet at the house. Drama over, we ate a very nice tea - while mercilessly asking Andy "Are you sure?" any time he expressed a preference or request - after which the weather finally cleared and we could contemplate some more cricket.
When the game eventually resumed we were greeted with implausibly bright sunshine and what was referred to as a "wet patch" on the pitch (the result of amateur manipulation of the covers). Little Shelford rather cheekily suggested the match be reduced to 36 overs - with just 4 wickets left it seemed unlikely that they'd see out all 22 of the remaining overs - and so that idea was rapidly knocked on the head. Any hopes the opposition might have had of batting out their overs seemed to have been dealt a similarly fatal blow when Rog Shelley (3/17) took two wickets in his second over to reduce Little Shelford to 106/8. Two more wickets and we'd have had the game all but won . . .
. . . but the wickets wouldn't come, at least initially. Edges flew through (or over) the slips; balls missed the stumps by millimetres; run out opportunities went begging. Little Shelford's number 7, one C. Pringle, did a brilliant job of farming the strike, taking the total to a far more respectable 157/9 at the start of 36th over. At this stage Faruk Kara still hadn't had a bowl, the theory being that a slightly quicker approach was the way to get the wicket we so wanted; Faruk proved that theory wrong after one ball, his first - and only - delivery for the match bowling Pringle and finally finishing Little Shelford's innings.
Our chase began slowly, if not glacially: it took us 22 balls to score our first run off the bat, and we were just 24/0 after 11 overs. To be fair, this was actually something of an achievement - the taller of the Little Shelford opening bowlers was getting considerable lift at sufficient pace that he was regularly beating the tentative back-foot prods being offered up in return. Far worse, though, was when a number of fuller balls also beat the bat, most of which seemed to then slam into various parts of Dave Clark (8). On his way back to his mark the bowler remarked a semi-sympathetic "This chap's in the wars, isn't he?" That it was not an entirely sympathetic comment was revealed next ball, when a good length delivery seamed in and struck Dave amidships. Except, unlike in Little Shelford's innings, there was no reassuring "thunk" of leather on plastic, and instead a most disturbing scream of agony. Dave apparently "doesn't like wearing a box" - none of us do, of course, but most of like getting smashed in the bollocks even less. Still, there's nowt as queer as folk, and Dave recovered enough to hit a big four through the covers that was, given the context, probably the shot of the day.
Such triumphs were all too rare, however, and soon wickets were falling with predictable regularity. Only Nick Clarke (18) and Olly Rex (a fantastic 45) made it into double figures - although there were 14 extras. The real stars were, unfortunately, the Little Shelford bowlers - both attacks managed to stick the knife in, but only they managed to twist it as well - and both Flack (10 overs, 3 maidens, 2/13) and Bicker (6/24) deserved their match-winning figures.