Report by Cam Petrie:
June 16, 2018 has gone down as a miserable day for Australian sport (losses in football, rugby and international cricket), and although there were only two Aussies playing for Romsey today, I feel entitled to add "second last over bloody irritating loss in Cambridge South Junior 3 match involving Australians" to the list. We have had a fairly crap run this season so far, and have felt uncompetitive in several games, but last week we picked ourselves up, and came within a shout of a win, and we really deserved a change in our fortunes. Today we stood up, fought tooth and nail as a team, showed some real signs of Romsey stubbornness and refusal to give in, and ended up being slapped down in controversial circumstances - and despite the fact that we felt that we had won, we lost.
Although it is not (yet) a statistically proven fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that Romsey has tight matches every time Luke Barnes makes his annual pilgrimage from Sydney to Cambridge and joins us for one match (e.g. the 7 run/39th over victory against Milton II in 2014, the 6-run loss against Saffron Walden III in 2016, and the last ball loss to Royston II in 2017, and to that list we can certainly add today's 1 wicket defeat against Thriplow III).
All of this is actually avoiding the fact that we already knew that today's game was going to be 'complicated'. Andy called Cam mid-afternoon on Friday and said "We only have 10 for tomorrow", to which Cam asked "Who have we lost?", and Andy replied "Me! I broke my collar bone, don't know how, but I will be out for at least six weeks", to which Cam, laughed, swore and then realised for the second time in 12 months he was going to be captaining an Andy-less Romsey due to an Andy injury and a Daniel absence.
Much frenzied messaging ensued as Cam scoured facebook for a replacement and came up trumps at 11:42pm, when Aditya Vaidyanathan responded in the positive and agreed make the trip up from London. Another known complication was that Kshitij Sabnis would need to go by 5.15pm, so the plan was to bowl first - but heads it was and Romsey was sent into bat first, for the first time this season.
Not that this was such a bad thing, as for a change we had a relatively robust batting order and Aniruddh Ragu and Cameron Petrie set out to face the music. Unlike the last three weeks, Cam wasn't out in the first two overs, and we actually had a proper opening stand, which was a nice change. This proved to be a good thing really, as Thriplow had a young left arm bowler whose beautiful opening spell (mostly to Ani) of 5 overs, 1/12 was a mix of in-swingers into the slot and straight ones that went across the right hander and kept us tied down. Reprieve came from the other end as Cam lapped up some slightly loose, and then some extremely hit-me short bowling to ensure that our rate never dropped below 4-runs an over.
Ani was able to scythe a beautiful drive through the off side field before edging off to the keeper for a solid 10 off 36 balls. Adi (5 off 33 balls) was similarly tied down by one of the change bowlers who seemed to have a mortgage on a spot on a length. Cam had a little battle with said bowler as he tried to knock him off his length, but Adi eventually succumbed also caught behind. This gave Cam and Luke (21 off 28 balls) a chance to "get the band back together", and they set about pushing us on through drinks and on to 124/2 in the 27th over. Thriplow had been running out of ideas and options when they brought their left-arm opener back on, and Luke and Cam rotated the strike with no problems in his first over, but then we ran into a brick wall. First Cam was bowled by a sweet in-swinger - ending his innings on 66 off 69 balls (with 10 fours). Luke (21 off 28 balls) finally cut loose in the next over with a booming drive that went straight to the mid-off fielder and all of a sudden, we had Kshitij and Richard Rex at the crease. They set about playing themselves in and regaining momentum, but the pressure soon told on Kshitij (7 off 19 balls) and he was run out. Stephan van Eeden (9 off 8 balls) wasn't going to die wondering as he quickly got swiping and started to resuscitated our run rate before playing on. New bat Arnie Garside joined Richard and they gradually picked up momentum and then boundaries. Desperate to boost our total, Richard launched an arcing six to cow before Arnie (9 off 19 balls) was eventually bowled in the 39th over. This left Huw Davies had the dubious honour of being out on the field for a whole over without facing a ball as Richard (24* off 35 balls) faced the last and brought us to 184/7 off our 40 overs.
General consensus at tea was that our score was defendable, but no one was quite willing to admit that it was possibly not quite enough - especially given that we were soon going to lose Kshitij. We also had the added difficulty of Jeff Beaumont's wobbly belly, which saw him head home early, and had Catherine Owen stepping up to field for us until she had to head off to work around 6pm, which would take us to drinks as it turned out. Short version of all of this is that we were only going to have ten fielders after about five overs and only nine for the last twenty.
We gave ourselves the best possible start, with tight bowling from Stephan (2/23 off 8 overs) and Adi (2/22 off 8 overs) before Stephan got one of the openers to edge off, and Luke stuck out his left hand and took an absolute blinder at second slip. Stephan and Adi each went for 9 runs off their first five overs, and we clearly had Thriplow right where we wanted. Faruk Kara (0/45 off 6 overs) and Luke (1/35 off 8 overs) came on first change, and Luke got the other opener to nick off to Cam at 'keeper - putting them at 60/3. With four overs to go till drinks Catherine cannily pointed out that she was going to have to go to work soon, and a bowling change might help, and this little piece of Owen wisdom gave us our next wicket as an unintentional and very floaty full toss saw the ball hit straight to Luke at fine leg and a juggled but held catch.
With Catherine gone at drinks and only nine fielders on the park, we needed something special, and in the now familiar return of Stephan to the attack, we snaffled another wicket as he drew a lofted catch into the safe hands of Richard. It was somewhere around this point when Andy was heard bellowing "Go for it Cam!" Huw was brought on to bowl one over from the Adams Road end before being switched to the northern end, and this produced the magic we needed. In consecutive overs he trapped the Thriplow number six LBW, and then bowled their number seven - leaving the Thriplow number three still at the crease and their score at 120/6 off 30 overs, with 65 runs (or four wickets) needed off the last 10 overs.
With Stephan bowled out, it was up to Adi, Faruk and Hugh to give us a chance of victory and they didn't disappoint. Thriplow attacked all three of them - putting on 50 in the next 6 overs before Adi maintained his tight lines and bowled the ball of the match in the 36th over, which seamed off a length and crashed into the middle stump of the set batsman. He then trapped their number nine in the 38th over and got us to 181/8.
With only four runs to defend and two overs to go we knew that every run was critical, and all of the field was up attacking - "c'mon Romsey - it isn't over yet" was the cry. Huw had the ball again, and his in-swingers were perfect for the situation, making it worth resorting to ball by ball description for the finish:
We all know that the umpire should only give out what they hear and see, and that there is no obligation for a batsman to walk, but we had no doubt as we trudged off the field in disbelief and despair. There wasn't a major deflection, but there was a clear noise and the bat was well away from the body/pads, so no doubt in our minds, especially given that all of our fielders were closer to the batsman than either of the umpires. As the batsmen came off at the end there was a lot of quiet muttering, and a young kid ran up and said "Did you actually hit it?" The guy on strike was too sheepish to say anything, so it is probably best to say that he wasn't being very convincing in his conviction that there was no edge. It is perhaps no surprise that Andy was livid and he made his views pretty clear to the Thriplow captain, but none of this was going to change the fact that we had been denied in a heart stopper.
In hindsight, there were various other things that went against us that made more of a difference - we probably more generous on wide calls, for a start - but, importantly, a lot went right, and we actually had some decent partnerships while batting and set our biggest total of the season. We also only dropped one catch, which was a tough one, and the bowling varied between good to outstanding, with special mentions for Stephan and Adi who each grabbed pairs of critical wickets, and Huw who bowled like a workhorse, was switched ends twice, and his figures of 3/24 off 5.5 overs were his best return for Romsey and should have been one better.