Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The Sun finally shone on Romsey Town today, both literally and metaphorically. After wretched losses in our three previous league games (to say nothing of several more defeats in our various warm-ups), it was impossible not to bask in our victory this afternoon. The game concluded with most of our team having beached themselves in the pavilion, full of a magnificent tea (courtesy of Matt Commin and his girlfriend Gina, who'd spent the previous 24 hours baking) and safe in the knowledge that, for once, we weren't going to screw up a small chase. Such was our dominance by the end of the match that we even had runs to give away: with the scores level Robin Eddington played a nice pull shot, but the runs didn't count as the delivery had already been called "no ball", ending the game there and then. It was particularly harsh on Robin, as it did count as a delivery he'd faced, thus marginally decreasing his strike-rate, but if that's the sourest note that could be struck, it must have been a pretty harmonious afternoon's cricket.
It began four hours earlier when Sawston chose to bat first. Like last week, Matt Commin (3/33) and Daniel Mortlock (4/37) made good use of the new ball, and once they'd found the right lines to Sawston's right/left opening combination the runs quickly dried up. Daniel had a pretty good LBW shout, with the whole team backing him up, but it was turned down, the umpire subsequently giving the perfectly legitimate explanation that the batsman was on the front foot and that he couldn't be sure it was going to go onto hit. Daniel then went up for another, almost identical, LBW off the next ball - this time the rest of the team were silent, presumably accepting of the fact that there would once again be sufficient doubt - and so it was quite a surprise that this time the umpire gave it straight away. And that opened the floodgates, a healthy 30/0 after 7 overs becoming a rather precarious 69/5 after 19. We were clearly on top, even if Matt had now bowled out his allocation - it would have been very nice to see the tail-enders faced with the the away-seaming in-swinger with which he'd got our fifth wicket.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, as Sawston's number four was still in and hitting the ball well, and our failure to capitalise on a scoreline of 55/5 just seven days ago was hard to forget. Indeed, a sequel to that horror story was starting to look more likely when the total had reached 125/5 after 30 overs, but then Olly Rex (1/15) came on and made the vital breakthrough. And this time that one opening was all we needed, Sawston's innings ending in a rush. Two more batsmen were dismissed in the next over, after which the number ten was run out by yards, Robin Eddington heeding the loud calls of "bowler's end" to send in a calm and accurate throw. And then everyone just walked off the field - it turns out Sawston were one short, and so we'd bowled them out for 141 in 33.3 overs.
With that success behind us we were able to really enjoy Matt and Gina's tea - home-made rolls followed by a phalanx of scones, brownies, flap-jacks and the like - before most of us settled in to watch our top order knock off the runs. Initially it seemed it might be a bit of a struggle - we were just 20/1 off 7 overs and, rather ominously, the wicket had come after yet another calling melt-down, Rod Dennis (3 off 14 balls) being the unfortunate victim today. But at least this incident seemed to galvanise Nick Clarke who, after playing himself in (scoring just 9 off his first 18 balls) then went on to play our first real innings of the year. With superb support from both Cameron Petrie (28 off 30 balls) and Robin Eddington (19* off 21 balls), Nick seemed to all but demoralise the Sawston attack, eventually finishing on a superb 80* (off 65 balls with 12 fours).
Admittedly, it was a slightly lower pressure situation than we've had of late, but it was yet another argument for getting "in" and then going on with it. Our real problem this year, at least previously, had been out inability to do so: while our batsmen have taken their time at the start of their innings, nobody had managed to convert their start into a big innings or to score with freedom. Of our 11 individual innings of 20+ balls prior to today, only Roy Page and Cameron Petrie had scored at at strike-rate of more than 60.00 (both against Ashwell) and only Richard Rex had made it past 40 (something he'd managed twice). But today everyone who got going scored at about (or above) a run a ball, and it's probably not too much of a stretch to imagine that we might have threatened our all-time top score of 277/1 if we'd been able to keep batting.
Instead, it was more than acceptable to soak in that long-lost winning feeling and try and break into Darren's bar fridge . . .