Report by Daniel Mortlock:
At 1:30pm today twenty-two elite cricketers were standing around in the Trinity College pavilion, watching a steady drizzle cover the ground. Actually, that's not strictly accurate: it was only twenty-one because Dave Clark had yet to arrive (not, it should be added because he'd gone to Saffron Walden by mistake, but because he was still working). In the end the match got going at about 2pm - the rain hadn't stopped, but we were all getting bored.
The Romsey ten thus headed out into the field, which was a bit annoying given that we'd won the toss, and set about trying to keep the ball dry while avoiding getting hurt in the slippery conditions. We were largely successful on the first count, Richard Rex taking to his task as chief ball-dryer; we failed disasterously on the latter, albeit not because of the slippery ground. By game's end Rog Shelley had twisted his back, Dom Summers had strained his groin and James McNamara had stretched a side muscle. There was mild irony in the fact that Arnie Garside, who'd landed on his coccyx when his feet had slipped out from under him, ended up one of the few Romsey players who finished the day unharmed.
This might all sound like our time in the field was a struggle, which much of it was, but we started briliantly as Daniel Mortlock (3/31) and James McNamara (1/26, despite the extra weight of his clearly unnecessary sunscreen) reduced Bassingbourn to 23/2 in the 9th over. Instrumental in our early ascendancy was some great fielding, with Jacob Pockney (a Cambridge Crusaders player in his first game for Romsey), Dave Clark (now present), Richard Rex and Dom Summers all making some great stops. Bassingbourn then recovered to be 54/2 after 15 overs, at which point the drizzle finally stopped, to be immediately replaced by proper rain.
So we got the covers back on and spent another hour in the pavilion, squeezed in with the Cambridge and Oxford 2nd and 3rd ladies' tennis teams, as we ate Rog Shelley's generous and hearty tea. Nobody had really worked up an appetite yet, but the surplus sandwiches (and Pimm's, which should definitely become a Romsey standard) were steadily consumed during the rest of the day. (While the rain was heavy and steady, the fact that Trinity has covers meant that there was never any real danger of the game being called off.)
Play resumed a little after 4pm . . . which was a pity, really, as Bassingbourn's third wicket pair had played themselves in and started scoring pretty freely off Rog Shelley (0/35), Steve Mann (0/54 in his first Romsey game) and Andy Owen (2/65). We didn't wilt in the field, though, and Arnie (who seemed to have become a cult figure amongst the Bassingbourn supporters), Daniel, Jacob and Steve made some fantastic stops in trying conditions. We did get a few wickets towards the end of the innings, as James, now keeping wicket instead of Andy, made two good stumpings off the man he'd replaced, Dom back-pedalled to take a tricky catch at mid-wicket, and Daniel atoned for a rank full-toss by diving across to catch the drive that was hit back at him. This was all good stuff, if rather tarnished by the fact that we were never able to stem the flow of runs, Bassingbourn finishing on a depressingly imposing 222/6.
Our pursuit began steadily, as Jacob Pockney (46 off 66 balls) and Richard Rex (7 off 39 balls) gave us a pretty good base: while 37/0 in 11 overs maybe represented slower scoring than we'd have liked, Bassingbourn had been 38/2 at the equivalent stage of their innings. The problem was that, whereas they had a 138-run partnership ahead of them, we kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
There was no collapse for once, but the combination of tight bowling and the increasingly low bounce made it incredibly difficult to score. The result was an unofficial dot-fest competition: Richard managed 11 in a row; Dom Summers raised that to 15; and then Daniel Mortlock topped them both by starting his innings with a run of 16 scoreless deliveries that nobody else was able to beat. Dom and Daniel's sequences coincided during the 5 overs after the drinks break, which yielded a grand total of 5 runs; the required run-rate hence increased from a just-about-possible 7.95 an over to an unimagineable 10.43. Our woes increased further when Dom (32 off 47 balls) stretched his groin going for a sharp second run. This meant that Richard had to change back into his whites to act as runner, although that meant Dom was freed up to start hitting out, and he smashed 25 runs from 16 balls before he chased a wide one and nicked off. After that Daniel (23* off 50 balls) and Andy Owen (12 off 18 balls) at least got us past 120, but our innings ended pretty quietly.
Which was rather ironic, as Bassingbourn's unbelievably loquacious wicket-keeper had ensured the game was anything but quiet as he maintained a relentless in-match commentary that included inside information about the bowlers' talents, complaints about the size and shape of the box he was wearing, frank assessments of his own good takes, and warnings to the batsmen about the possibility of taking returns "up the bum". But even this non-stop quasi-sledging was frieindly, and the whole match was played in an impeccable spirit (maybe easier to do when it's so one-sided!). The only pity was that the delays had resulted in such a late finish (8:20pm) that none of us were able to join the Bassingbourn players in The Red Bull - hopefully we can stay for a pint in The Hoops in Bassingbourn in August.