Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Having been stuffed by both the University seconds and thirds this season, it maybe made sense to be a bit less ambitious. And so today we found ourselves faced with the rather reduced challenge not even of beating a single university college, but a college's JCR team, in this case that of Trinity. They won the punctuality arrival battle, but we won the toss, meaning that we could send out our batsmen while our bowlers gradually made their way to the ground.
Still, getting to the opportunity to bat first was one thing; making use of it was another, and the Trinity opening bowlers were a bit too good for us initially, conceding just 5 and 7 runs from their first (six-ball) overs. Maybe more important, though, was that Matt Samson and James Crozier didn't get out, meaning they had the chance to play themselves in. This they both did, albeit in series rather than parallel, with James being first to shift gears, feasting on some loose bowling with a sequence of 1 4 1 1 LB 4 1 4 4 4 4 . 4 4, or 36 from 14 legitimate deliveries. The "legitimate" here is an important qualification, as there were plenty of deliveries that were not, being either well wide or waist-high no balls (off one of which James was "caught", the square leg fielder making a spectacular diving take, the only material result of which was that he wricked his knee and had to hobble off the ground). Add in 20 byes (and 5 "byes" off wides) and there were sufficiently many extras - 37 in the end - to induce some serious debate about whether we should clap if they (it?) made it to fifty.
There was no such ambiguity when James made his own half-century, although the fact that he stubbornly refused to hold his bat up to his applauding teammates, instead offering a rather dismissive wave, was apparently frowned on by the cricketing gods: their intervention is surely the only explanation for the fact that he was dismissed soon afterwards for 54 off 40 balls (hence ending an excellent 132-run opening partnership that took just 86 balls). We could easily have lost momentum there, but instead Matt went up a gear just as James had before him, with a sequence of 4 1 4 4 4 4 . 4 4 (i.e., 29 runs off 9 balls) before getting himself out in the most ridiculous fashion by bunting a wide long-hop to the grateful, if disbelieving, point fielder. Still, Matt's 72 off 59 balls was easily our highest score for the season so far and, with help from Michael McCann (4 off 7 balls before being run out by a superb direct hit), Tom Serby (13* off 10 balls) and Nathan Wright (3* off 5 balls), led us to an awesome 183/3, our biggest 20-over total since late 2009.
That we had a winning total was pretty clear; whether we'd be able to complete our victory was not. A combination of the Trinity bowlers' epic run-ups and endless delays to kick errant footballs from the ground meant that it was already after 7:30pm by the time we headed out to field, and with solid cloud cover and some drizzle there was a real question about whether we'd be able to get through our overs. Still, the conditions meant we had no choice but to open with Joe White (i.e, our only plausible entrant into a long run-up competition) while there was still decent light. It was the right move tactically as well, with Trinity's two best cricketers (sometime Romsey player Deaglan Bartlett and Remnant Cam Petrie) opening the batting. Joe (1/29) eventually got the better of Cam, having him caught and bowled off a miscued pull, but otherwise runs - and boundaries in particular - were coming with alarming regularity. Alec Armstrong (1/20), Faruk Kara (0/40) and Paul Jordan (0/23) all bowled pretty well, but never managed to maintain consistent pressure, as evidenced by the fact that only two of the 12 combined overs they and Joe sent down were boundary-free. And it could easily have been zero were it not for some tireless work in the deep by Alec, James Crozier and Michael McCann - although the fact that all the action was on the boundary says it all, really. Trinity finished the 13th over on 107/2, and with two set batsmen at the crease it was hard not to feel nervous that we were half an hour from breaking the club record for the highest unsuccessfully defended total (the current record being the 179/4 chased by tomorrow night's opponents, the Woozlers, back in 2010). Scoring 77 runs from 7 overs was still a challenge, of course, but it wasn't that different from what both teams' batsmen had been doing all game.
Perhaps one reason we were struggling was lack of "strong and stable" leadership, or indeed any meaningful leadership at all - captain Daniel Mortlock's total contribution to this point had been to make a couple of regulation stops and to look a bit annoyed every time the ball was hit to the boundary. So he decided to bring himself on to bowl, something he'd been a bit reluctant to do having hurt his shoulder trying to bowl "fast" on the weekend. This meant having to halve his pace today . . . and it is on such seemingly innocuous points that things can turn: it's quite likely that Daniel's usual "straight and zippy" approach would have just yielded more crunched boundaries; whereas now he found himself in the undiscovered country of in-swing, every ball curving late towards the batsmen's pads. Once he'd managed to adjust his line to accommodate, the result was a sequence of W . . 2 . | W W 1 2 . W | 1 W as the ball kept beating or taking the inside edge. Add in a sharp caught and bowled and a nice running catch off the bowling of Andrew Granville (2/9), and it really was time to be buying lottery tickets. Daniel's luck only ran out when he bowled the number ten batsmen and started to get excited about the prospect of having four more deliveries to try and castle the number eleven - but one of Trinity's players had gone home early, so that was the end of the match. Daniel hence had to content himself with fantasy figures of 5/7 from his 3.2 overs (equal eighth best in club history) and, with Andrew, co-authorship of a collapse of 7/15 (and 6/9) that is even closer to the top of the equivalent table.
Our fears of failing to defend 183 suddenly looked absurdly pessimistic, and we instead got to bask in the glow of both a comfortable 61-run victory and and a glorious crimson sunset. (The photo below does not remotely do justice to the colours.) We should also have been drowning in three jugs of beer, but the bar was shut today, so James's, Matt's and Daniel's largesse(s?) will have to be enjoyed another time . . .