Romsey Town vs. Little Shelford

13:30, Saturday, June 18, 2016
Trinity College (Old Field)

Romsey Town (202/8 in 40 6-ball overs)
Little Shelford (194 all-out in 39.1 6-ball overs)
by 8 runs.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Last week's loss means that Romsey's hopes of promotion as a team are pretty slim now, so we've instead been forced to go for the individual variety, and the first order of business today was to congratulate Richard and Cam, who were (respectively) confirmed professor and reader this week. This made for the most absurdly over-qualified side in club history, as it also included a lecturer, two PhDs, a doctor-doctor, two others with masters degrees . . .

. . . none of which counts for anything in the world of Romsey Town CC, where it's only the hard currency of runs, wickets and catches that carry sway. And, somewhat appropriately, it's Cam and Richard who are the team leaders on this front too, with 359 runs between them so far this season, 17 more than the entire rest of the club put together.

And it was hence highly appropriate that, having lost the toss and been inserted, Cam and Richard got to head out together to continue their successful partnership. Which is just what they did, taking us to 62/0 in the 14th over before Cam (43 off 44 balls) and Richard (19 off 48 balls) both got done by what can be unplayable at Trinity these days: a slow straight ball.

Fortunately, we had an awesome top order today, and so two quick wickets weren't really much to worry about . . . until Little Shelford added a third, fourth and fifth wicket in quick succesion as we endured a collapse of 5/18 (including 4/5). It was hence even more fortunate that we also had a kick-arse middle-order, which included James McNamara (despite his late arrival on his girlfriend's extraordinarily small bike) and Olly Rex (in town for about 24 hours on his way from some exotic holiday location to the rather less exotic location of St Andrews). Together, they brought things back under control, first by playing themselves in - James scored just 1 from his first 12 balls and Olly, possibly as a gesture of respect to his newly promoted father, was 3* off 22 balls at one point - and then by cashing in. In the end they put on an invaluable 82 runs (off 93 balls) before first Olly (30 off 48 balls) and then James (61 off 61 balls) perished pushing for late runs with a few overs to go.

That left Andy Owen (8* off 7 balls) and Daniel Mortlock (6* off 6 balls) to make a late dash for 200 (a pipe dream when we went to drinks at 81/5) with an extremely amusing 11-ball partnership that included two of the most absurd missed run out chances one could ever hope to see. In the first Daniel hit the ball pretty much straight to Little Shelford's brilliant short cover fielder, who made yet another brilliant stop; that should have been that, but Daniel misinterpreted Andy's aggressive backing up as an unspoken "run on anything" call. If Daniel had tried to regain his ground the fielder probably would have thrown down the stumps in one elegant motion, but he instead opted to stand still in the middle of the pitch, thus inducing said fielder to relax and lob the ball to the 'keeper - or, more correctly, where the 'keeper had been a few seconds earlier. That run duly completed, Andy correctly demanded good, sharp calls from his partner, the next one of which was a decisive "yes!" in the final over when Daniel hit the ball straight to the mid-on fielder. Daniel would have been out by yards if the fielder had simply tossed the ball to the bowler, who was waiting over the stumps; but, possibly influenced by an earlier failed run out attempt in which he somehow managed to throw the ball directly upwards, the fielder decided to do a Jonty Rhodes, running in low and fast (or at least low) to mount a direct attack on the non-striker's wicket. There was a three-man pile-up of batsmen, bowler and fielder, who was technically correct that he'd "won the race" to the stumps, but seemed to miss the point that the batsman doesn't have to make it that far.

The end result of all this was a total of 202/8 - scarcely believeable that we'd made so many runs on the same ground where we stumbled to 66 all-out against 8 men a few weeks ago - and so we all felt very justified having second, third and even fourth pieces of Cam's delicious banana bread. Suitably weighed down, we then waddled out to defend our big total, an endeavour in which we were simultaneously unsuccessful and unlucky - at least first.

Daniel Mortlock (1/46) and James McNamara (0/50) both induced edges from both Little Shelford openers, but all four chances - none of which were at all easy - went to ground. After that the batsmen seemed to be scoring pretty comfortably, even if riskily - lots of runs came from aerial shots that that fell just short of or went just over our fielders, and there was a general sense that it wasn't going to be our day. And while Robin Eddington (3/28) made a couple of breakthroughs when wicket-keeper Andy Owen held onto a pair of superb catches standing up to the stumps - credit to both batsmen for walking, hence avoiding big controversy since "Jonty", now umpiring, wasn't going to give either of them out - but Little Shelford progressed pretty calmly to 148/2 in the 29th over, and were surely winning.

We needed a breakthrough, which we finally got when Andy Owen (3/31) held onto a superb low return catch (his third of the day). From there the scoreboard pressure started to tell, which manifested itself in a couple of run outs: Richard Rex scored a direct hit from mid-on (wisely choosing to throw, rather than bring, the ball to the stumps); and then James recovered from an awful misfield to fire in a fast and flat throw to the bowler. Little Shelford's cause was further harmed when their top-scorer injured his hamstring and called for a runner. There was an unavoidable delay while one of the dismissed batsmen got his pads on, and then a rather more avoidable one when he was sent back in to make sure his gear matched the batsman's. The runner took that to mean putting whites on - he'd intially come out in black shorts - but the request was that he wear full-sized pads rather than keepers' pads - and so he had to head back into the changing room for a third time. By this stage the Rexes had started a family yoga session and Faruk, who must have covered several miles swapping back and forth between fine leg and third man with the right-left combination, was in danger of freezing up, while the rest of us just shared wry smiles at the seriousness of village cricket. The game did eventually restart, and then stopped again after four more deliveries as we did a 'keeper-swap - why we didn't do this while the runner was being sorted out is not recorded.

Even though we were clawing our way back into the game, we still weren't winning: after 34 overs Little Shelford were 183/7, meaning they needed just 20 runs from 6 overs; our hopes rested on the fact that, because they were one short, we needed just 2 more wickets. There was the most fantastically tense balance for a few overs, with Andy and Robin giving little away but Little Shelford's number five playing scoring freely (and very correctly) whenever he could get the strike. Which, thanks largely to our policy of setting the field deep and allowing him a single at the start of each over, was not very often. That was how the penultimate over, delivered by Robin despite his alleged "stiffness", began and after a few dots wewere finally ahead of the count, with 9 runs needed off eight balls, then seven and then si- and we had our 8th wicket as well. That left Andy to finish things off - although it was far from a won game with the above-mentioned batsman on strike, and a few more classy cover drives was all that was needed. Andy did his part, getting his first ball on the stumps and then the batsman finally succumbed to the pressure, playing a highly uncharacteristic cross-bat swipe, which we all know is fatal at Trinity these days.

We thus finished up on top of was a fabulously topsy-turvy game that Little Shelford were winning at least three separate times: after our mid-innings collapse; during their big partnerships; and again with about five overs to go. Given the spirit in which the game was played it would have been perfect for a post-match pint at The Red Bull, but the game didn't finish 'til 7:15pm and most of had to head home.

James heads home.