Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Taking on undefeated league leaders Bassingbourn on their home ground was going to be difficult enough even without being one player short, so the smart money was definitely on the opposition. That said, the players we did have made for a pretty balanced team, and we also had fond memories of a most enjoyable victory when we played here last year.
Certainly the initial signs were good, with Cam Petrie smashing the first ball of the game to the boundary, thus ensuring with a single shot that the Bassingbourn opening bowler was going to be less economical than he was last week (when he somehow came away with unbelieveable figures of 10 overs, 8 maidens, 3/2 against Saffron Walden). There was some life in the pitch, and in combination with the hard new ball, resulted in some nasty lifters, one of which did for Cam's thumb. Hampered by the pain and the resultant lack of flexibility, he was out soon after for 12 (off 20 balls).
James McNamara and surviving opener Richard Rex set about constructing a solid foundation for our innings, but ended up building the whole thing, eventually being separated only when doing the cricketing equivalent of putting the last tile on the roof in the second last over. There were a couple of scares - a few tricky dropped chances and an LBW shout that, while possibly hitting, was far from "plumb" and certainly didn't justify the chuntering that a few of the Bassingbourn players continued past the end of the match - but otherwise it was one-way traffic. This was obviously good fun for James and Richard, but hardly a chore for the rest of us either, as we were able to spend a most relaxing couple of hours lounging on the plush sofas and listening to Dave Clark regale us with breathless tales of getting a good deal on his phone contract (with help from the "geezer" in the store) and his remarkable ability to give the location of the three nearest Aldi stores to any point in Britain. Given that it was clear that James was on his way to yet another century, it was far more exciting trying to guess whether Richard would have time to make it to fifty. In the end they both managed their milestones, after which James raced on, equalling Nick Clarke's club record score of 133 in the penultimate over. But the more alert of you will have noticed this over has already been mentioned once, and sure enough James's next shot went straight to the mid-wicket fielder. James was universally clapped off the ground, having made an awesome 133 from 110 balls with 20 fours and 2 sixes. Maybe even more impressive was his partnership with Richard, which yielded 196 (from 187 balls), and is the third highest in club history (and, rather scarily given that he'll be leaving at the end of the year, also the third highest involving James).
The one Romsey player who wasn't completely happy was Olly Rex, who got the muggins job of having to go in and slog for an over and a half, the somewhat predictable result of which was being caught on the boundary for 1 off 5 balls. Next in was Rod Dennis, who was luckier in the sense that he got to stand at the non-striker's end for the final three balls of the innings while Richard smacked a few dismsisive boundaries to finish on 59* (off 110 balls with 5 fours), having once again carried his bat. And while a strike-rate of 53.64 might seem low for an innings that's lasted 40 overs, the fact is that both times Richard has passed 20 this year (similar innings of 77 off 108 balls and 56* off 111 balls) we've won, whereas the three times he's been out for less we've lost. And given that we'd finished on a fabulous 238/3, we were now surely odds-on to keep that pattern up today.
We were hence pretty happy going to tea, a mood that was only improved when we were once again presented with an awesome array of sausages, sandwiches, dips, cakes, scones, strawberries and fresh cream. It was hard not to suspect that this was the "alpha tea" provided to incapacitate the opposition when fielding second, but instead it turned out that we'd been so appreciative of last year's tea that the same lovely local woman volunteered to feed us again. Life is pretty good . . .
. . . and only got better when Olly Rex (1/25) induced an outisde edge in his first over that was smartly taken by 'keeper Andy Owen. While the battle between bat and ball was fairly even early on, the scoreboard pressure told, and second wicket partnership of 31 was the biggest of Bassingbourn's innings. Our sense of not quite being able to make a breakthrough was only increased by the opposition number three's seemingly endless supply of safe edges. And when the batsmen did middle it, the likes of Vaughn Wittorff (on Romsey debut), Rexes Olly and Richard, and Dave Clark made some superb stops - even if Dave sacrified his left foot in the process and spent the rest of the innings hobbling between positions. Daniel Mortlock (2/9 off 9 overs, 5 of which were maidens) and James McNamara (2/26) both made further breakthroughs, the highlight of which was a bizarre stumping off James: Andy had made yet another great leg-side take and, seeing the batsman was leaning forward, tried to whip the bails off, only to miss the stumps and drop the ball; not that it mattered, as the batsman hadn't left the crease . . . but then he overbalanced and, while he was scrabbling to regain his ground, Andy picked up the ball and broke the stumps successfully this time. (There was some debate about whether this might actually be a run out; the key point is that the batsman wasn't trying to run, meaning it was definitely a stumping.)
But the real star during this part of the game was Faruk Kara, who'd been calmly flighting the ball onto a nasty length while all the drama was happening at the other end. For the longest time it seemed he was to be rewarded with one of those "unlucky 1/20"-type spells that get lost in the wash; but then he got access to Bassingbourn's rather long tail, and with three wickets in the space of two overs (including two to catches by Olly) he was suddenly eyeing up a five-for. And he probably would have got one too, but for a rather casually attempted second run by the Bassingbourn number eleven, and so Faruk had to be content with figures of 4/28 as he ended the game by taking a good throw and completing an easy run out.
We had thus thrashed the league leaders (a position they still hold) by an implausible margin of 145 runs (our fourth biggest runs victory), and even had time to head down to the Hoops for a post-match pint. Sadly only one of the oppo could make it, which was a real pity, since they're one of the friendliest and most sociable of teams in the league . . . and, even worse, it meant we were presented with four enormous bowls of pub snacks (sausages, chicken wings, etc.) which were delicious but liable to leave us immobile for the rest of the season.