Report by Daniel Mortlock:
You know the drill: win or go down; one last chance to have fun; competition hot for the batting and bowling awards (although largely because Ferdi hasn't played enough to be eligible for either). The venue for our final game, Walton's Park in Ashdon, also had its usual effect, which was to ensure that half our team arrived late - or at least just in time - and most of found ourselves alighting from various club cars to the news that we needed to change and be on the field in -1 minute.
The early part of the game was dominated by the Mill Green opening pair, who combined solid defense with decisive punishment of anything loose. With no real action off the slightly dead pitch, we made the obvious decision to try our slow bowlers, which was immediately effective: first Graham Wood (our final Additional Player for the season) conceded just 17 runs from his first 6 overs; and then Faruk Kara was even more successful, frustrating the better of the batsman to the degree that he played a wild swipe and was well caught by Stephan van Eeden. Faruk got another wicket next ball, albeit by the opposite tactic of sending down a full toss to surprise the new batsman, who could do no better than to bunt the ball to Graham at backward square-leg.
Two in two balls did not, sadly, lead to three in three (or four in four, etc.), but we were effective in maintaining a steady pressure during the middle part of the innings. The stars here were Andy Owen, who took 3/25 (and, with it, yet another bowling award), and Olly Rex, who contributed to two-thirds of Andy's wickets with good catches at long-on - one of which was made to look even better by virtue of running too far in order to facillitate a backwards dive. A backwards dive would have netted Andy a fourth wicket after a mis-hit drive lobbed over his head and just about landed on the umpire; but with his collarbone still not fully knitted he wisely pulled out at the last minute (and so this report serves as a formal record to concerned family members that he doesn't always put himself in harm's way).
With Mill Green on 129/5 after 37 overs it seemed we were going to be presented with a manageable target, but first Stephan van Eeden (0/24 off 7 overs, but 0/35 off 8), then Graham (0/17 off 6 overs, but 0/30 off 7) and Daniel Mortlock (0/20 off 7 overs, but 0/35 off 8) had their figures wrecked as 41 more runs came from the last 18 balls of the innings. There were a few edges and misfields in the mix, but the final ball of the season summed things up: the batsman marched down the track and so Daniel tried to adjust his line, only to deliver a full toss that the batsman pulled off his chest and all the way to the boundary. Not quite the fantasy end to the season that we'd hoped for.
After a magnificent tea, that were perhaps a bit too deflated to enjoy properly, we set about mounting an attack on what had turned into an annoyingly large target. Not that such things were impossible, especially at this venue - it was here that we chased down Ashdon's 256 in 37.2 overs in 2015 - although we were perhaps lacking some top order firepower today. We lost a couple of early wicket, but were motoring along nicely at 41/2 in the 8th over, with Richard Rex (14 oof 14 balls) and Kshitij Sabnis (18 off 22 balls) both looking very comfortable at the crease. That all ended up with a suicidal run out, after which our middle order were all "bowled Kiddy" as we lost our next 7 wickets for 29 runs. Other than some spirited hitting by Arnie Garside (9 off 21 balls) we really didn't have much to show for our efforts.
That left us on 70/9, with just our "leadership group" of Daniel Mortlock and Andy Owen between us and an early trip to the pub - certainly the fact that the Mill Green fielders declined the offer of drinks at 20 overs suggested they thought the game would soon be over. But Andy and Daniel had previously made teams bowl out their overs in similar circumstances, albeit back in 2007 and 2008; and, sure enough, Andy dug in and Daniel hit out, both looking as comfortable as Richard and Kshitij had earlier in the day (albeit with Andy's limited movement giving him fewer scoring options). When Daniel reached the dizzy heights of 7 he'd guaranteed himself the batting award - probably best not to mention that this was by virtue of having an average of 20.75 - and it was soon the highest partnership of our innings - probably best not mention that this was just 19. And now that they'd seen off the best of the Mill Green bowlers, it was perhaps time to start dreaming of a miracle win, especially when Mill Green turned to one of their younger players, who looked a bit uncertain in marking out his run up. Sure enough, the first ball was a rank half-tracker, which Daniel rocked back to cut . . . but the ball shot through and snicked the outside of the off stump about 2 inches off the ground. A glorious way to end the season it was not: Daniel hence finished up frustrated on 17 (off 21 balls), leaving Andy symbolically defiant and undefeated on 1* (off 19 balls).
So early to the pub it was. Conversation quickly turned earnest: what was next for Romsey Town CC? No definitive answer was forthcoming, although there was considerable doubt about . . . well, just about everything. This included, of course, whether we'd finish this year in the relegation zone . . .
. . . which, next morning, was revealed to be likely when we found out that Fulbourn were on 155 points to our 158 points after their penultimate match . . .
. . . and became certain when Fulbourn got 8 points in their final game (against Mill Green), lifting them to 163, hence leaving us second-last, above only Thriplow. So whatever else happens, it seems clear Romsey Town won't be playing in Junior 3 next year.