Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Looking out over a hard, dry Trinity ground, and knowing that the forecast was for 28 degrees all day, it was quite obvious that the toss was simply a mechanism to decide who would choose to bat first. But when the captain of the curiously-named Rebels (Bowie obsessives? Star Wars fans? Acolytes of Rik from The Young Ones?) called incorrectly, Andy suddenly had a crisis of confidence - he made it all the way back to the boundary without deciding, eventually asking Daniel for his opinion on what we should do. Daniel's reponse was "bat, obviously", obviously, which of course meant that we opted to field. But what was really intriguing about this apparently crazy decision was that it probably turned out to be the right option - or at least not wrong.
Certainly we started brilliantly with the ball, and within the first two overs both Rebels openers had edged the ball, to gully and the 'keeper respectively . . . but both catches were dropped. And this, frustratingly, was the story of our innings, with the number of dropped or missed chances in the arc from the 'keeper to point easily making it to double figures. This was at least a sign that we were bowling well, although this was rather obscured by the fact that pretty much any well-hit ball that pierced the in-field was guaranteed to scoot across the boundary, so it was almost impossible to keep the scoring down. By the time drinks were brought onto the ground - at 20 overs, rather than 14 as hoped for - Rebels were clearly on top with the score 97/2, particularly annoying since, other than the dropped catches, we'd been playing pretty well.
But after drinks it was Romsey all the way as Adi Vaidyanathan (3/31) and Daniel Mortlock (3/29, to go with two left-handed catches that could and should have been taken with both hands) ran through the Rebels' middle order. Karan Gupta (0/28, before injuring his back), Saurav Dutta (0/39 on Romsey debut) and Andy Owen (0/25) all deserved wickets as well, but it turns out they were all bowling from the "none for" end, a law that was illustrated decisively when Faruk Kara (2/11) replaced Daniel at the end of the innings and finished his spell with consecutive wickets to leave himself forever on an unobtainable hat-trick. We thus finished up restricting the Rebels to 167/8, which felt like a significantly sub-par score given the fast outfield, and we surely went to tea the happier of the two teams.
Certainly they didn't want to spend much time in the pavilion, being out on the field and in position while most of us were still eating. And then their efforts to defend their total were delayed further when one of our umpires, Dave Clark, decided to undertake some sort of lengthy, if mysterious, process in the changing room, with the eventual result that we needed a substitute official for the first over. When the game did finally resume it was the Cam Petrie show, as he celebrated his birthday by smashing half a dozen boundaries (one of which bounced into Boston, Malcolm's ultra-popular labrador and de facto team mascot). The Rebels quite sensibly opted for a bowling change, but the first ball from the new bowler was a horrific long-hop which Cam rocked back to smash over the mid-wicket boundary . . . only to somehow lob a simple catch to mid-off, thus perishing for a maddeningly unfulfilled 27 off 20 balls. We then entered the Twilight Zone of dot balls and uncertain calling, the result of which was a 10-over period in which just 13 runs were scored for the loss of two wickets, one of them a completely absurd run out. After 17 overs we were 46/3 and in danger of dropping out of contention even before drinks.
Daniel Mortlock led a spirited recovery, racing to to 23 off his first 13 balls, only for some canny bowling changes to slow the scoring again, after which Daniel (24 off 26 balls) and an exhausted Richard Rex (16 off 68 balls) were bowled in consecutive overs. We were once again looking at a big a thrashing . . . but what we got was easily the best partnership of the match as Saurav Dutta and Andy Owen started scoring at comfortably more than a run a ball, Saurav repeatedly lofting the ball over the infield and Andy of course hitting mainly to leg. After 32 overs we were 140/5 and needed just 28 runs from 48 balls, a comparatively straightforward task that suddenly looked even easier when a new bowler came on and his first delivery bounced three times before reaching Saurav. The scorers were poised to record a no ball, and sure enough the umpire did start to raise his hand . . . but all the way to the vertical - rather than a run being added to the total, Saurav had been given out LBW (for 25 off 31 balls). Rog Shelley (7 off 14 balls, including a clubbed four hit just as his brother Steve arrived at the ground), Dave Clark (0 off 9 balls) and Faruk Kara (4* off 10 balls) all did their best to support Andy (33* off 38 balls), who managed to get us to the position of needing 14 from the final over. Andy managed to connect with some big pulls, one of which took him to 7000 (recorded) runs, but in the end we went down by 7 runs.
It was far from our worst loss, but also a match we should - or at least could - have won. And after being top of the table a few weeks ago we are now very much in the middle - hopefully we can arrest this slide next week. The key to doing so would seem to be pretty simple: score some runs - today's poor total of 160/8 was comfortably our highest of the season (although in some cases we've been limited by chasing small targets) and only one batsman, Cam Petrie with 121 runs at 24.20, has scored more than 90 runs this year. Oh, and we could probably stand to take some catches as well . . .