Report by Daniel Mortlock:
If the nation's media hadn't been so concerned with this election-thingy, it's pretty clear that the big story this week would have been today's CCA Junior 3 top-of-the-table clash between Little Shelford and Romsey Town. There would have been pull-out supplements previewing all aspects of the game, with discussions of key match-ups, reviews of classic past encounters, interviews with both teams' supporters, and a quiz about player nicknames. Sadly, one fact that would undoubtedly have gotten a lot of attention is that Little Shelford rather stuffed us at home a month ago, so if we couldn't balance the ledger today then any claim we might have to the league title would about as plausible as Theresa May's assertion that, having traded in a solid parliamentary majority for an unstable alliance with a bunch of religious fundamentalists who want creationism to be taught in schools and think homosexuals are "pretty repuslive", she'll be providing the country with "certainty".
The day itself was glorious and the Little Shelford ground was looking superb in the sunny conditions - village cricket perfection. That said, a stroll out to the middle revealed the outfield was rather lush and the the pitch was pretty grass-free, looking more like rolled mud in parts - it wasn't completely clear that batting first would be the way forward. The Little Shelford captain later admitted he wasn't sure what he'd do if he won the toss, and so it was perhaps fortunate for him that Andy called correctly. In the end Andy went with convention (first time for everything!) and so most of had ideas of settling in for a lazy few hours under the new gazebo watching our top order rack up the runs.
This, in short, is not what happened. Despite batting with great discipline, as evidenced by countless dot balls and just six boundaries all innings, our batsmen inevitably played some bad shots and seemed to pay with their wickets each time. That was annoying enough, but we also managed to add in an absolutely horrific run out when Dom Summers (5 off 8 balls) smashed a superb straight drive which cannoned into non-striker Andy Owen and then bounced off into the empty space behind the bowler; Dom saw that there was a clear run and so headed down the pitch, repeatedly calling Andy through; but Andy was completely uninterested (possibly because of the convention of not running when the ball has hit a batsman) and never left his ground. Dom made it all the way to the sanctuary of the non-striker's end, which would have been fine but for the fact there's a maximum occupancy of one. Dom eventually accepted that Andy wasn't going anywhere, but he'd only made it a quarter of the way back by the time the wicket-keeper completed the easiest of run outs. Andy at least had the focus to ignore this debacle and keep batting sensibly, making it to 22 (off 65 balls) before hitting a return catch to the bowler. Andy's dot-heavy innings was sadly representative of the turgid middle half of our innings during which we scored just 37/6 in 25 dismal overs. The Little Shelford bowlers, backed up by superb fielding, were having a great time, and recorded a series of fantasy figures (3/11 off 8 overs; 3/13 off 7 overs; 0/8 off 8 overs). The obvious coorollary is that our batsmen weren't having so much fun, least of all Deaglan Bartlett who, in scoring 3 off 33 balls, earned himself a coveted place near the top of the slowest innings table. Only Karan Gupta (10 off 26 balls) made it to double figures during this period, and when we finished the 35th over on 74/8 it seemed like we weren't even going to get a second batting point. We managed something of a recovery in the last few overs as Daniel Mortlock (25* off 47 balls) and Faruk Kara (9* off 13 balls) combined for our best partnership - but the fact that this yielded just 20 runs (from 23 balls) says it all.
Defending our total of 102 seemed unlikely, a notion that was quickly reinforced when the Little Shelford top order skipped along at a run a ball. This was partly due to the pace we (probably mistakenly) gave them, partly due to do a more positive "see ball, hit ball" strategy that was a stark contrast to ours, and partly because almost all their aerial shots and mishits fell just short or wide of our fielders. Unluckiest in this regard was Faruk Kara (2/36), who could easily have had a five-for on another day - but at least Daniel Mortlock (at long-off) and Dom Summers (at mid-wicket) held onto the two regulation chances that did actually get within someone's reach. Otherwise it was one-way traffic, though, and the only reason that we managed to take the game to the drinks break was the agreement that we have them at 14 overs, rather than 20. The winning runs duly came in the 18th over when Little Shelford hit their 13th boundary - more than twice as many as we'd managed in our whole innings - which rather emphasised that the top of the table is not a place we can claim any right to.
Still, the early finish at least meant that we had plenty of time to drown our sorrows at the pub. This was meant to be The Navigator but, despite the fact that they sponsor the team, the Shelford players can't drink there due to some sort of falling out. So we went a bit further up the road to the Square And Compass where Nathan and Faruk taught everyone about such nuanced ideas as "balance", "mouth feel" and "base flavour" that are more commonly associated with sex toys.