Romsey Town vs. Abington III

13:30, Saturday, June 7, 2014
Trinity College

Abington III (248/9 in 40 6-ball overs)
Romsey Town (105 all-out in 24.2 6-ball overs)
by 143 runs.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

The forecast for today was, once again, absolutely awful; and there was a torrential downpour in the morning that was sufficient for plenty of CCA games to be cancelled (including, e.g., Abington II's). But Trinity, unlike all but a few village grounds, has covers, and so we got to play an uninterrupted afternoon's cricket in glorious sunshine.

Which was a great pity, as we were woeful. Fresh from our record-breaking run-scoring feats of last week, we were seduced once again by the old ways, choosing to bowl first and never once being ahead in the game. We offered up a remarkable combination of erratic bowling, uncommitted fielding and insipid batting, the main result of which was to make things pretty easy for our far more "up for it" opposition. The final result, a 143-run loss, was maybe even flattering in some ways, given that our tally of 6 "bonus" points is actually slightly above average. It's tempting to just draw a line under the whole sorry affair, but some sort of archivist's instinct means that it's worth at least recoding some details for posterity.

Our time in the field began, for a change, not with Daniel sending down the first over from the Adams Road end, not due to being demoted to first change, but because he was still on a train. It would be tempting to blame this on First C(r)apital Connect, but for once they completed their part of the bargain; instead, it was the result of a calculated risk (trying to minimise the chance of a wasted trip by taking a later train) not paying off. While it seemed like a reasonable decision at the time, the end result was just that we fielded one short for the first four overs and also had to try yet another new opening attack, this time of Robin Eddington (0/40) and Faruk Kara (0/19). Robin's spell was the most economical of the day (at least by us - one of the opposition managed fantasy figures of 7 overs, 4 maidens, 2/6), and Faruk bowled well too, although trying to spin a new ball on a soft pitch was always going to be a bit of a mug's game.

Olly Rex (0/35) came on first change and was decidedly unlucky not to get the much-needed breakthrough, as the easiest two of the half dozen chances that went begging came off his bowling. Where it would have been nice to see fielders sprinting at top speed towards the ball, the feel was more of loping in the right general direction, followed by a hopeful outstretching of hands and resigned cries of "bad luck" as the ball was picked up from the turf. The situation was summed up in miniature when Cameron Petrie came in from cow corner and wrapped his right hand around the ball, only to see it pop out - the reason this is worthy of note is not the drop of a difficult catch, but the disgusted admonishment of "Two hands, arsehole!" that followed. (This is not, it should be noted, a recommended sexual technique.) And even that comment would normally be glossed over as "heat of the moment" stuff, but for the fact that it came from Cam himself - he knew, as we all did, that we needed to up our game in the field. Instead of waiting for the ball - and hence giving it a chance to spin or bobble - we needed to be attacking it. Instead of vague cries to get returns in we needed clear and loud instructions for which end it should be thrown to. And, most of all, we needed to hold some catches.

This, at least, we finally did when one of the Abington openers smacked Daniel (3/41) back over his head with such authority that the bowler had already begrudgingly mumbled "good shot" before realising that Richard Rex moved himself from mid-on to long-on and, well, it hardly needs saying that he immediately devoted his mind and body completely to the task of making sure that ball never touched the ground. The drought broken, a few more good catches followed: Daniel and Faruk helped Catherine Owen (2/26, and currently second in the bowling averages with 6 wickets at 13.67) to once again start her spell with a double-wicket maiden; and then Cameron, having just been moved back to cow corner after some time closer in, ran a good 20 yards around the boundary line to pouch a big hit that would otherwise have been yet another six. It was a superb act of redemption, although sadly the most important words in the previous sentence were "yet another".

The fact that we had finally started taking wickets after a century opening partnership was great, but the problem was that we never stopped the runs from coming. And the Abington middle/lower order smashed seven huge sixes between then, all leg-side hits (not slogs, though, and many off decent balls) between square-leg and mid-on. The main victim on this score was Marcelino Gopal, playing his first game for us since May 2013. Unsurprisingly, given his lay off (and nasty sounding injuries), he struggled to find the right line initially, but his Hawkeye plot would have looked better and better as his spell went on, the mythical Zen Ball (first spotted in 2008) ever closer. The only problem was that, while the Abington top order mainly scored from bad balls, the lower order seemed most likely to hit a boundary off middle stump. The end result was that Lino's two spells ended up being amongst the most eventful in club history, as figures of 4/82 (our third most expensive on record) probably convey pretty well. These wickets meant we went within a single good ball of dismissing Abington, although the reality was that, with 248 runs on the board, they were much the happier of the two teams as they tucked into Catherine Owen's great tea.

Fully fuelled and ready to play some long innings, we got over the hiccup of a first over wicket to start scoring freely, Nick Clarke (25 off 21 balls) and Cameron Petrie (8 off 13 balls) taking us to 39/1 in the 8th over. Even more promising, the opposition seemed to be as keen on fighting themselves as us, the main issue being their opening bowler's open dissent at a wide call, a complaint that was rather negated by the fact that one of their players admitted that he'd called similar deliveries as wides when he'd been umpiring a few hours earlier. It was tempting to think that this was the precursor to a full-on implosion . . .

. . . which it was, but by us. We combined some insipid shot-making (i.e., half-hearted attacking strokes that lobbed to fielders) and some diabolical calling (that gifted the opposition the simplest of run outs) to lose 4 wickets for 5 runs. 44/5 was really all but game over, although Andy Owen (13 off 28 balls) and Olly Rex (12 off 14 balls) at least put a price on their wickets before perishing as well. Thanks to a rare bounty of wides and no balls - extras ended up top-scoring with 30 - we somehow made it to triple figures, although there was no denying that our eventual loss today was every bit as comprehensive as our wins had been in two preceding weeks.

There were some cold beers in the fridge, but they were of use only for drownings our sorrows; and, as was the case for U2 back in the '90s, our sorrows had learned to swim.