Report by Daniel Mortlock:
For the second week in a row the captain won the toss, looked out at Trinity in the baking afternoon heat, and chose to bowl. But today it was the opposition captain who made this seemingly bizarre choice.
It very quickly started to look like a bad choice as well, as our antipodean opening pair of Luke Barnes and Cam Petrie set about building a monster total, taking the score to 111/0 in the 19th over. Certainly this can't have been what the Royston captain had hoped for when he'd inserted us - other than a few rather unrealistic LBW appeals it was one-way traffic, and the fielders were beginning to get visibly, if understandably, grumpy with their lot. Luke, in particular, was peppering the boundary with a combination of classic shots and pure power. It was hence rather ironic that he was eventually dismissed hitting a rather tame pull to square-leg - but, having made 69 off 65 balls (with 9 fours and 2 sixes), he'd more than done his job. Daniel Mortlock then came in and took 2/15 from his 5.4 overs, which would have been a great effort but for the fact we weren't bowling yet. Daniel's slow scoring might have had its explanation in his old bat, which he discarded after a while; but more significant were the two wickets, both of which were the result of stunning direct-hit run outs that would have done Ricky Ponting proud. Daniel's own dismissal was probably a good thing for the team, but the other wicket was that of Cam, for a superb 60 off 92 balls (with 6 fours). Our middle order of Saurav Dutta (23 off 18 balls), Olly Rex (18 off 24 balls) and Andy Owen (26* off 20 balls) got the scoring going again, although our eventual total of 221/6 was less than double our 20-over score, which suggests we could have done even better.
Still, the fact that we'd forced the Royson fielders to spend a lot of time recovering the ball from beyond the boundary (and sniping about wide calls for bouncers that went over the batsman's head) at least gave the Clark family enough time to get tea to the ground. Even if it hadn't been ready in time it would have been worth the wait, the highlight being the superb sauage rolls that Dave made himself. When someone asked him the secret the whole team fell silent and waited with baited breath for the secret to be revealed: "I buy sausage meat; and I buy pastry; and then I make 'em." Presumably future tea-makers will find it useful to follow this step-by-step recipe in the future, although it seems there might have been a missed marketing opportunity here, as a cookbook adopting this approach could save valuable shelf space.
Having only ever failed to defend a higher total three times we were certainly favourites on statistical grounds, but our first mission was simply to try and assess how good it really was given today's strange conditions - fast outfield, but some crazily variable bounce. The early indications were: very! Our second Australian opening combination for the day did just as well as our first, Daniel Mortlock (2/43) and Luke Barnes (2/27) quickly reducing Royston to 32/3. Our sense that victory would seen be ours was only reinforced when Catherine Owen (2/33) got another pair of wickets and we managed our own direct-hit run out when Markus Bernhardt fired in a superb return to 'keeper Cam Petrie who then threw down the non-striker's wicket with what, thanks to a kind bounce, was effectively a fast off break. Royston were now 85/6 in the 23rd over, needing a further 137 runs from 103 balls and, presumably, with only the weaker batsmen left.
There was some evidence that this was indeed the case, with a lot of edges coming in quick succession; but it was also clear that there was plenty of talent left too, as the lower order smacked enough big boundaries to keep the match alive. After 36 overs the score was 172/7, meaning Royston now needed 50 more runs from just 24 balls - just one economical over would be enough for us now. But the Royston skipper, B. Harper, saw to it that this didn't happen, combining some big hits with clever manipulation of the strike. That left us with a one-over shoot-out between the captains with Royston still 16 runs short of victory: