Report by Daniel Mortlock:
From the moment the first ball of the match took the edge of the Little Shelford's opener's bat and flew between 'keeper and first slip to the boundary, it was hard not to think that it wasn't going to be our day. This sense was only reinforced when Jeff Beaumont (0/14) pulled up in his third over having pulled a calf muscle - he heroically stayed on the field for the full innings, but it was almost as painful for us to watch as for him to experience each time he went hobbling after the ball.
The early part of the innings was made up of an incongruous combination of mis-hits and edges, all of which fell safe, and clinically dismissive boundaries - but the actual numerical result of all this was that Little Shelford had raced to 55/0 in the 9th over. Karan Gupta (3/30 and the pick of the attack) then bowled the better of the two openers with one that kept a bit low - although his partner's obligatory "unlucky mate" was particularly annoying given all that had gone before. What came after, though, was a superb Romsey comeback as Karan, Chris Clarkson (1/41) and Faruk Kara (2/25) made regular breakthroughs, thanks in no small part to some superb catches by Andy (a top edge that he lost sight of before diving to pick it up a foot from the ground), Chris (who held onto a pretty well hit cut off Faruk), Olly Rex (whose first meaningful action on a cricket field since last August was to take an elegant diving catch at mid-on) and Dave Clark (who emulated Nathan's Wright's effort from last week in taking a slips catch after the ball had deflected off both the bat and the keeper's glove). We had hopes of finishing things off quickly, but it turned out that the lower order batsmen were if anything even more destructive than the top order, and by the time the score was 169/7 after 29 overs we were suddenly looking at a 200+ plus target. The old firm of Daniel Mortlock (2/48) and Andy Owen (2/18) finally managed to get the last few wickets by the end of the 32nd over, but not before Little Shelford had bludgeoned their way to 184 (of which an incredible 118 came in boundaries).
Having partaken of Denise Owen's hastily set-out but delicious tea (which also included Andy's home-made sausage rolls), we then set about sorting out our batting line-up, which was revealed to be a bit tricky when it suddenly became apparent that much of our regular (or at least desired) top order was missing, presumed decorating. Still, Cam Petrie (21 off 28 balls), Richard Rex (49 off 125 balls, the longest Romsey innings on record) and Daniel Mortlock (16 off 29 balls) gave us a solid base, taking us to 72/1. The only problem was that this had taken them 23 overs - Little Shelford had reached the same total after just 13 overs. The main reason was some superb bowling, Flack getting some serious lift while going for just 15 from his 5 overs, Shah conceding just 18 from 8 overs of immaculate in-swing, and captain Henner taking 1/23 with his out-swingers. By the time our middle order got in they really needed to start hitting straight away - although the scoreboard pressure doesn't explain a collapse of 4/2 (and 5/10) as any remaining hopes of a successful chase vanished in succession of missed straight balls.
That left Andy Owen with the familiar task of marshalling the tail, with the hope of scrabbling our way to a third batting point - and while he would have conceded that this was what we'd been reduced to, he presumably would have expected this to be a metaphorical, rather than literal statement. For our running between wickets was what can only be described as atrocious. It started when Andy joined Richard, who seemed to have developed a new habit of running down the same side of the pitch as the non-striker; add in the fact that Andy's thigh muscles were "shot" from 'keeping, and the view from the pavilion was of two people ambling to the middle of the pitch to have a conversation while the ball lay stationary in the outfield, begging for a second run. Dave Clark eventually joined Andy, taking an even more creative approach to second runs: when Andy hit a lovely off drive, non-striker Dave presumed it would go to the boundary, but Andy knew better, racing down to the non-striker's end as fast as he could and then turning to come back; but then he saw Dave standing mid-pitch and quickly calculated that the only explanation for this was that Dave hadn't made it to the other end because he'd stopped running in the (mistaken) belief that the ball had crossed the line; Andy hence gave up on the second run, but Dave suddenly got all enthused, and started a gradual acceleration back to his starting point. We were all set for the shortest "one short" in history, with Andy making a few hesitant steps towards the other end before sense finally prevailed . . . and was then discarded as, despite the ball now being in the bowler's hand, Dave briefly toyed with the idea of making a run for it in the manner of some doomed innocent being advised to stay under cover in a Bourne film.
Such uber-village moments notwithstanding, we did at least manage to make it past 120, as Andy (13* off 40 balls) and Dave (5* off 15 balls, his highest score since his box-free 8 against the same opposition back in 2013) withstood some increasingly erratic bounce to at least bat out our 40 overs. That was 48 balls more than Little Shelford had lasted - but this isn't Test cricket, and battling long doesn't put bread on the table - runs are what matters, and Little Shelford had scored 60 more of them.