Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The first sign that things weren't quite going to right for us today was the fact that they never really seem to go right for us. This was closely followed by a tragi-comedy of bad timing when Richard Rex (yet to make an appearance for us this season) e-mailed Cam to let him know he was available if needed, but Cam informed Richard that we had an eleven. Fast forward a few hours to mid-morning when Martin Prowse called Cam to say he was struggling with his post-concussion recovery and wasn't able to play. No problem, of course, and particularly given that in this case Cam was able to e-mail Richard again and let him know he had a place . . . at which point Richard revealed he was in Yorkshire and would have had to head off at the time of the first message to make it to Fitz by game time.
Perhaps the one saving grace was that Haslingfield were in much the same situation, with only ten players themselves - although they did have us out-gunned in the scoring department, as Russ simply couldn't compete with their scorer, who had not one but two fancy on-line apps to record every on-field event. The first of these was the toss which, as was the case last week, was a pretty good one to win . . . which we didn't. Romsey was hence batting first for the third time on the trot and once again the opposition bowlers got the use of the pitch at its most lively.
Still, our top order were up to the task of knuckling down, and Cam Petrie (14 off 16 balls), Adi Vaidynathan (26 off 43 balls), Daniel Mortlock (31 off 63 balls) and Andrew Granville (19 off 41 balls on Romsey debut) all reaped the benefits of getting forward and playing straight. Aided by 15 wides, to go along with 18 other extras (which, on the back of scores of 29, 20 and 22, became the first component of the Romsey batting line-up to get into triple figures this season), we raced past last week's total of 37 and after 21 overs were 97/2, and eyeing up 200+ for the first time this year.
Unfortunately, the match report flipped over to a new paragraph, and you all know what that means . . . although it wasn't so much a Romsey collapse, as just getting stuck in a rut. The one saving grace was that the season's star batsman, Olly Rex (36* off 43 balls), was still in; and he finally found a willing partner in Faruk Kara (13* off 15 balls), who matched Olly for free-flowing strokes and a general sense of batting freedom. Their 8th wicket union of 34* at better than a run a ball took us to an eventual total of 180/7. It wasn't as much as we'd hoped, but it was a real team effort. The only pity was that none of the top order went on to a big innings in the manner of a "proper" batsman who's played themselves in - although perhaps it was as much because it wasn't actually that easy to get in, in which case we maybe had enough.
We certainly had enough to eat, with Andy and Denise's tea both generous and delicious, the highlight being the home-made sausage rolls. There were lots of queries about the recipe, to which Andy took the academic approach of simply citing the past work on this topic by Clark (2017). This was effectively the culinary equivalent of a proof by induction - quite appropriate given that our new recruit Andrew is a professor of pure mathematics.
If we could have bowled, fielded and caught the way we did last week we'd have walked it; but, somehow, we never quite managed to sustain serious pressure for more than a couple of overs, and there was always a loose delivery just around the corner. One revealing statistic is that Haslingfield hit 20 boundaries to our 15 - it mightn't seem a huge difference, but with an extra 20 runs the extra scoreboard pressure on the batsmen might have been sufficient to induce a few more desperate shots. Cashing in on a few more of the bad balls might have been enough to give us those extra runs we needed; Or, alternatively, we served up just a few too many "hit me" balls, mostly full tosses, but also some wide balls and half-trackers. Daniel Mortlock (1/23) started off a bit loose but then got his line back and was dead unlucky that five or six inside edges saved the batsmen from being bowled. Daniel was replaced by Adi Vaidynathan (0/44), who was even more harshly done by when he yorked the opposition's best batsman twice, only for the ball to evade the stumps thanks to the giant crevasse from the batsmen marking their guard - it was more like a mini-slips cradle, and on any more solid wicket these would have been cleaned bowled. We stayed in touch until the last few overs, at which point the other three bowlers all had their chance for instant "Romawy legend" status - although in the case of Andy Owen (2/32, the second coming from a great stumping by Cam) this was bestowed many years ago.
The key moment seemed to be when we brough back on Stephan van Eeden (0/22 at this point) with two overs up his sleeve and Haslingfield well-poised on 148/4, needing 33 off 42 balls. Unfortunately, Stephan lost his run up, delivering a sequence of wides and no balls that had all of our shoulders slumping . . . until he suddenly found his rhythm, bowling one set batsman and then the new batsman consecutively with what verged on unplayable deliveries (and ending up with figures of 2/33). 152/6 was a different story: just three more wickets would do us. The next roll of the die was to bring Faruk Kara (1/40 at this stage) for his final over. His pace - or lack of (Cam kept requesting his "slower ball" as if he has another type) - beat the set batsman off consecutive deliveries and there were huge LBW appeals from the whole team when the ball held its line, kept low, and slammed into the batsmen's pads in front of the stumps. But no joy, and of course these deliveries were immediately followed by a dismissive boundary to take Haslingfield to within 2 runs of victory. When the same batsman middled a late-cut next ball it looked like those runs were going to come, but then Adi stuck out a hand and took and absolutely stunning slips catch - it was the sort of thing Mark Waugh used to manage, leaving batsmen walking off in literal disbelief. The catch was also match-saving - at least temporarily. Andy stepped up to bowl the penultimate over, and had the new batsman in all sorts of trouble, until he connected with a straight drive that a fully-fit Andy would probably have added to his CV of stunning return catches, but the 2019 edition had to ruefully watch fly past him and all the way to the boundary.
The icing on the "not quite" cake was that by this stage Richard Rex was also watching, having come by the ground after his trip back from oop north. Perhaps with even a few overs of his extra presence filling the gap in our ten-man fielding positions - to say nothing of his ground speed, reliable catching and newly-improved throwing arm - might have been enough to have flipped the result . . .