Ramsdell II vs Bentworth

Gloomy skies and a slight breeze bringing a chill in the air set the scene for Bentworth’s penultimate match of the season, travelling to the tranquil setting of Ramsdell to face a side who have been floating around the mid table all season.

A chance for everyone to don their much neglected jumpers, and also an opportunity for Dave “the booking agent” Mitten to provide yet another new face to the side, we welcomed Laurie who completed yet another full line up of Bentworthian merry men.

With Nick planning to join us later on, and Ali running late, there was only really one option when it came around to the much anticipated toss (thank you to those who provided helpful comments beforehand such as “just say heads or tails this time”). With 1 lost from 1, my new favourite 50pence coin opted to land the correct way up this time, allowing us to put extra layers on in the form of some batting pads…

I am delighted to report the return of Trev’s bright trainers, prompting one or two of the oppo to put their sunnies on under the dark skies as himself and “The Agent” kicked the campaign off. With Flash’s recent ‘blinding’ run of form, could he continue his run of consecutive 50s?

Sadly, the Agent failed to impress his father-in-law who has opened many an innings in the past, waiting until the 2nd over to offer up some catching practice to the Ramsdell slips. With your author in at 3, and after a couple of gift deliveries to get off the mark, it was only a few overs before Flash also supplied an opportunity for the fielding side to warm their hands with some catching practice, ending up well below his average for the year. 30-2.

In waded Chairman with his fine slab of willow, purposeful as ever albeit, possibly, maybe, slightly, a touch little less than fresh after having done his bit to support local businesses (Triple F brewery) the night before. The occasional “belchy reminder” of his previous evening was nothing that a piece of gum couldn’t help with and off we set about the task of setting a target. First change of bowling brought Ramsdell a chance of a wicket, but was very graciously pied by mid-on for which I can only thank the chap enormously – I was having great fun.

With some fine blows, Chairman raced to 42 before looking to put one ball too many out of the park, stepping back to send the ball into orbit, but rather it died in the pitch and hit both his pads, and his off-stump. Regardless of the dislodged bail, the Ramsdell folk were so excited at the opportunity for an lbw they appealed anyway, ending the partnership of 80 and bringing Alex “the Knight” to the crease.

After a nervy start, “the Knight” started making short work of dismissing the ball to the boundary and we made good headway at ramping up the run rate after drinks. A bit too quick you could say and not to “ham” it, but in the process of “string-ing” a couple together, the fanatical sniper who got JP last week got me mid-sprint, bringing the need for a runner.

Special mention to Dave “the Agent” Mitten who was the best runner any crippled batsman could have hoped for – coming in when I was on 85 and sticking around for the remainder of the innings. I did my best to limit how many times he needed to run the 22 yards for me, but he certainly got some mileage out of his spikes on the way to my personal best of 151* (I had to mention it sometime right?!)

Alex continued thwacking it about with a glorious run of boundaries to achieve his season best (so far!) of 40 before he too was caught.

4 overs left, with 248 on the board, enter Mr Hartley and his multi toned bat (it’s the heart of the tree don’t you know?!). His recent time spent stalking/admiring/gleaning like a lovesick schoolgirl over a certain Mr Buttler proved enough inspiration to rack up a quick 14*, helping us reach 272 at tea.

And WHAT a tea it was. A true “two-plater”, each and every Bentworthian commented on the plethora of goodies on offer, offering the opportunity to reminisce about the last time we’d had corned beef sandwiches. I, for one, can vouch for the quality of the chocolate and Victoria sponge cakes, whilst I heard nothing but good reviews for the rocky road pieces that were also on offer. A sceptic would say that the hosting team deployed tactics to “stuff” their opposition at the interval, but we very gladly obliged.

And so with a heave, a ho, and the occasional hobble, we took to the field to set about defending our mighty fine total with Ramsdell needing 7 runs an over from the off.

7 was all they got off Ken’s entire spell of 8 overs (with 6 maidens!), with a well-deserved wicket – clearly not trusting any of the fielders but Sam, a true show of cricketing dominance by the Thomas family got their opening batsman caught (who on many occasions mentioned he’s “played quite a bit of cricket” in his time). Alas, maybe this occasion wasn’t his finest.

Ali bowled beautifully (8-0-28-1), with some fine inswing and good pace. A quacking delivery trapped their number 3 for a duck, lbw, and was unlucky not to pick up another, with a peach of a delivery finding the outside edge. Some glorious athleticism from Laurie at slip pulling out one of the dives of the season, with only the nitpickers pointing out that he did in fact dive out the way of the ball. Still, spectacular to watch.

At one point, Ramsdell were 13-2 which probably wasn’t the start they were looking for…

First change to Nick and the younger of the Thomas clan, Sam dried up any opportunity of scoring at the required rate and the game was quickly ebbing away from them one ball at a time. Nick set about his pursuit of the bowling award with another fine spell (8-2-31-2) with 2 wickets, bowling their slow and steady opener and also getting their number 5 with Jez taking a nice catch behind the stumps, using the old classic “hip thrust it back in the air” manoeuvre to complete the bowl-pitch-bat-box-thrust-gloves combo.

Sam bowled well, with pace that pinned the Ramsdell batsmen down and was unfortunate to finish his spell of 8 overs without a wicket (8-3-26-0). He only bowled a measly 3 maidens though, compared to his Dad’s 6. Still much to learn there is…

Dave “The Agent” treated us to a nice few overs (3-0-25-1) and picked up a wicket with Nick taking the catch of their top scoring and big hitting number 4.

Not one for missing out on the action, Chairman picked up a wicket during his spell (5-1-12-1) of whistling off-spin. In fairness, by this stage, the Ramsdell batsmen seemed to have given up all hope of reaching the target and seemed to be playing for their averages. Had they been a bit more forthcoming with their attacking strokes, perhaps there would have been a few more wickets distributed between our bowlers.

Unable to reach 150 for another batting point, Ramsdell ended up on 148-8 with Mr E.Xtra scoring 42 – only 106 off the bat was true testament to the standard of fielding. Jez kept well, diving about like a salmon behind the stumps and Alex zipped about the outfield like a housefly, treating us to a fantastic display of fast, one handed pick-ups with missile like throws in from the deep up there with the likes of Ali.

All in all, a very enjoyable game of cricket, played in good spirits (between the Bentworthians anyway!) with great performances all round. Best of luck for the final game next week chaps!

Image titled “Crip and Dave”  after a personal best score. Shall we say 75 each?!