Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Steeple Morden, who'd defaulted two weeks ago, rang up on Thursday to tell us they could only get seven or eight players for this Saturday's game. While the free 20 points is nice (and keeps Romsey on top of the league table), what we really wanted was some cricket - especially with an amazing forecast for Saturday. Andy and Daniel valiantly tried to get an opposition together, the first port of call being the sixty-strong Remnants playing list - but of course all of them who want to play Saturday cricket already do for various other league sides. Next came the CCA's extremely useful Facebook page, which revealed that Cambourne were in the same boat as us, having also lost their fixture to a default. After a bit of checking it was established that both sides would be able to get teams together, and so:
Report by Cam Petrie:The opportunity to "play cricket" on a gloriously sunny day was clearly weighed up against the chance to do "something else" on a gloriously sunny day, so it was a slightly depleted Romsey IX who turned out at Old Field to play a friendly against a Cambourne X, primarily made up of seconds players. Once a 40-over format was decided, and Romsey were sent in to bat, our now familiar opening partnership of Cam Petrie and Richard Rex padded up and headed out. Cambourne started up with young and somewhat inconsistent speedsters from each end, and although using an old ball, both were able to get movement, lift and low bounce out of a temperamental Old Field pitch that had earlier been soaked by a brief and un-forecast rainstorm.
Cam and Richard were both a bit scratchy to start, and while Cam (18 runs) survived, Richard (4 runs) was unable to get his feet moving and dragged one on. Tim Cannings (8 runs) came out to join Cam, and both had well hit balls pull up inside the boundary as the combination of old ball and wet and slightly long grass put paid to any chance that balls hit sweetly but without power along the ground would earn four. Just when Cam started to look relaxed with a lofted boundary over the thinly defended leg-side field and another through the thinly defended straight field, he (once again) played too early through a ball that "held" in the pitch and lobbed an easy catch. Tim also soon spooned an easy catch to square leg and we were forced to re-evaluate our approach at 3/35 in the eighth over.
New bats Ferdi Rex - making a cameo before the end of the academic year - and Karan Gupta (5 runs) changed gear and both set about playing themselves in through assiduous defense until Karan was cleaned up by a beautiful inswinging yorker from the Cambourne first change bowler. Faruk Kara (4 runs) came to the crease at the slightly unusual position of number six, and started his account with a lovely flick off the pads and a series of well-played defensive shots to reassure the thinly populated pavilion. Ferdi and Faruk continued the sensibly defensive approach, particularly to the niggling Cambourne second change bowler, but the ensuing block-fest increased the pressure, and saw first Faruk and then new bat Dave Clark (0 runs) bowled, and us stumbling at 6/61 off 22 overs.
It was during Dave's brief innings that we witnessed a true "mirth through anguish" moment as he went through a partial replay of his infamous "boxless" innings of 2013 - being squared up and taken down by a ball that caught the box (which he was actually wearing this time) at a particularly unfortunate angle and left him sprawled on the ground in agony.
With Andy Owen (17 runs) now at the crease, we saw the best partnership of our innings (43 runs) as Andy and Ferdi pounced on anything loose and resuscitated our run-rate with some well placed pulls, flicks, nurdles and drives. On Andy's eventual dismissal, Russell Woolf (5 runs) came out to bat for Romsey for the first time since 2013, carrying one of Cam's seemingly endless supply of bats, and he managed to rotate the strike so that Ferdi could go on a mini-rampage, at one stage hitting a returning Cambourne opener for 17 runs in one over. Russ got in the act with a beautiful straight drive along the ground before being bowled by the other Cambourne opener, who thus secured his fourth wicket.
Having been first out, Richard (3 runs) was given a second bat, and managed enough strike rotation to allow Ferdi another chance at the hapless Cambourne opener who was hit for another 13 runs before he was replaced by the Cambourne inswinger who had first Richard and then Cam (0 runs) caught behind chasing runs in the 38th over. Our 159 all out off 37.4 overs was almost certainly a bit below par, particularly as our 2.2 unused overs may well have seen another Ferdi mini-rampage. The fact that we had made it anywhere near 150 was largely thanks to Ferdi's composed, mature and sporadically aggressive innings of 76* (balls not recorded - though given that he batted for 30-ish overs and for over two hours, it is likely "more than 76").
Following a sweet-heavy tea, Romsey headed out into the field with Cam donning keeper gear and Karan (1/27 off 8 overs) and Faruk (0/25 off 5 overs) opening up with the (old) new ball. Karan quickly resolved his straying line and soon had the ball zooming through the channel, but the batsmen took a liking to Faruk's and he was soon replaced by Russ (0/21 off 4-5 overs), who soon found the ideal flight for the conditions. Karan managed to trap one Cambourne opener "so plumb in front that it had to be given out", but Russ wasn't so lucky, trapping the other opener on the back leg in front of middle and off, only to be told that his extremely straight ball was "missing off". This was particularly galling as the reprieved batsman then set about pulling new bowler Ferdi's (0/41 off 8-9 overs) off breaks from a stump line to the square boundary. Russ had given us his best and been denied, and had to leave the field for a breather. Determined to put the brakes on, Andy (2/23 off 8-9 overs) soon had said opener bowled, and two overs later the Cambourne number four was cleaned up in the same way, leaving the game nicely balanced at 3/79 at the half-way point.
Whereas Cambourne's medium pace seam and swing bowling had been very effective against us, they struggled against the variety of our medium paced and slower bowling. For the next 16 overs, Ferdi, Andy, Karan and Richard (1/19 off 4.2 overs) managed to keep the pressure on, but occasional four balls and a trickle of singles kept us frustrated. This feeling was compounded by the fact that whereas we had consistently put catchers into fielder's hands, Cambourne managed to offer up an array of tantalizing but completely uncatchable chances, with Andy producing three near misses in sequence at one point.
This sequence of play also saw Dave Clark on the ground in pain for the second time in the match, this time as a result of his attempt to turn too quickly to chase a ball to third man, and with his sprigs sticking in the grass and his upper body making the requisite rotation, he managed to wrench his back and needed to be helped from the field. This meant that we were now fielding seven of our original nine, but Cambourne kindly bolstered our numbers, including two particularly able fielders who assayed a range of impressive stops.
It is perhaps no surprise that Cambourne eventually overhauled out total, but it is notable that it didn't happen until the 39th over, when their surviving opener finally got fed up with this blocking/chancy malarkey and hit first Andy and then Richard for boundaries.
Report by Russell Woolf:
Thanks to quick thinking, nine good men from Romsey and ten good men from Cambourne got together on a sunny Saturday afternoon instead of twiddling their thumbs - following the missus 'round B&Q or, god forbid, watching the FA Cup final.
Having offered Cambourne the "Romsey friendly formula" of two 20-over innings per side, it was decided to play a regular 40-over-a-side match (Cambourne's preference). Having dodged according to Faruk "the biggest goose poo I've ever seen" in front of the pavilion, Romsey Town's innings begins with regular openers Cam Petrie and Richard Rex. Richard is the first to fall (6/1) and Cam begins to get his innings going with two consecutive boundaries, but the next ball stops him and he is caught for 18. Tim Cannings is also out quickly, leaving us 35/3 after 8 overs, with Cambourne's opening bowler McLean cleaning up the top order (no toothepaste jokes, please), who finished with impressive figures of 4/26.
We hoped things would get better for Romsey, but they didn't: the run rate slowed down; and wickets continued to tumble. Karan Gupta, Faruk Kara and Dave Clark come and go as the score moves onto 61/6. Andy Owen is next in and steadies the innings with 17, taking the score to 104/7 after 28 overs.
The very friendly spirit in which the match was played was shown by the Cambourne skipper who, having knowledge of my medical circumstances, not only agrees to a runner (thanks Dave!) but also suggests that the openers return at ten and eleven!
Not having held a bat in anger since 2013 I survive the first ball LBW appeal - but my main concern is not being run out in the confusion that having a runner can create. Having scratched around and getting a streaky edge for a single knowing better batsmen are to follow I attempt to "tee off" with limited success hitting a nice drive through mid-off for four before the bowler extracts revenge with a "straight 'un" (123/8). Cam and Richard returned to the fray with 6 overs left but score only 3 runs between them. The innings closes on 159 - but where have all the runs come from?
Special mention in dispatches goes to Ferdi Rex batting at number 4 and coming to the crease in the 6th over. He starts slowly, being 13* at the fall of the 6th wicket. In 22 overs he accelerates in typical "Ferdi fashion" with a further 63 runs, including 10 fours, in a final score of 76*. The best of the rest were Cambourne's bowlers, with Haque taking 4/18 and White 1/9 off 7 economical overs (with 4 maidents) proving difficult to get away.
Chasing exactly 4.00 an over, Cambourne's openers started steadily. Facing a Romsey opening attack of Karan Gupta (1/27) and Faruk Kara (0/25) with the first wicket falling at 28 in the 7th over, McLean comes in at number 3 joining the opener Saint who had the "angels" looking over him when, having been deceived by a slow ball, is hit on the pads in front of the stumps - a suitably loud appeal from everyone follows and Woolfie turns expectantly to see the digit of doom being raised . . . but it isn't forthcoming, the umpire judging the ball to be passing off stump - and his opinion is final. Having bowled 4 overs without success, I trudge off the pitch - my afternoon exertions are done. I was followed soon afterwards by Dave Clark, who turns to chase a ball only to end up in a heap on the ground, turning over a foot he twists his back and feels "something go".
Despite some valiant efforts in the field by everybody, including Cambourne's sub fielders, it is all in vain as Cambourne chase down the 160 to win with 8 balls to spare. Saint (37) is eventually bowled by Andy shortly after one of his "run out of ideas" deliveries. Teale is caught by Andy off Richard Rex (1/19) for 33, with McLean completing a fine effort with 63*. Ferdi Rex was unlucky in his bowling spell (0/41).
It was a typical sort of innings where hte side batting second were ahead of the game, losing wickets at far less regularity than Romsey did earlier in the day. Having completed the game and after a well-earned beer in the clubhouse, Ferdi finishes has day by grabbing his phone to take photos of the gaggle of geese now invading the pitch - no doubt attempting to identify the perpetrator if the "goose poo" earlier in the day without being attacked. After a good start to the league it's a shame that Romsey have a bye next week - however Strawberry Fair no doubt beckons . . .