Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Heading out into the field in glorious sunshine - no pink rock today! - we, at least initally, looked in good shape to control the game from the outset. This was primarily due to a superb spell of swing bowling by Ben Stone (0/8) that fully justified the posting of four slip fielders (and gully) - although the fact Ben somehow ended up going wicketless was perhaps the first sign of trouble.
The second and third signs of trouble were rather more overt, coming in the form of some uncharacterstically erratic spells by Faruk Kara (0/35) and Joe White (1/26) that rather undermined the idea of going to pre-season nets. Joe's frustration was amplified by some perhaps over-zealous wide calls - although no amplification was needed to hear his primal release upon taking a wicket towards the end of his spell. The final ball of Faruk's spell also packed quite an emotional arc: the batter, having been beaten in the flight, could only loft the ball gently towards mid-off, where John Moore calmly waited for its arrival to complete the catch and provide Faruk with a measure of revenge . . . but, you'll have already noticed that Faruk's figures were of the "none-for" variety - the ball somehow popped out of John's grasp, inducing an even louder vocalisation than Joe's:
After 7 (eight-ball) overs the Dobblers were cruising on 80/2, and any hope of seriously restricting their total had given way to damage limitation. We did manage something of a recovery in the second half of the innings which, rather appropriately, was started by John with a bamboozling spell of 0/17. Phil Hastings (1/14) went a little better, being the first bowler since Ben to go for less than a run a ball; and then Daniel Mortlock (3/14) brought himself back on for the final over, a move Ben suggested was exploiting his captain's privilege to "harvest some wickets with the batters slogging" . . . which is pretty much what happened, as two of them missed fundamentally unthreatening straight balls.
The end result was that the Dobblers had set us a target one run greater than that which we successfully defended yesterday . . . and way more than it seemed we'd be capable of chasing this evening when we slumped to 26/4. Our top order had been restricted to binary: 10 for James Robinson (8 balls) and Julius Rix (11 balls); 0 for Pete Ames and Jacques-Pierre Juoubert; and 1 for both wides and leg byes (and, technically, 0 for byes, no balls and penalty runs - although that's perhaps stretching things a bit far).
We then saw a remarkable recovery as Ben Stone made a mockery of what had come before, bludgeoning 23 off his first 10 balls - although it could have been even more if he hadn't stopped to admire a glorious drive that was a bit too vertical, as the ball plugged and just a single resulted when an easy three was on offer. And even after Ben's enforced retirement (for 31* off 18 balls), we had Neil Grover doing well on 12* off 12 balls and Phil Hastings had raced to 9* off his first 5 balls; with the total after 7 overs 75/4, we were ahead of the required rate and ahead of the game for the first time in an hour.
Unfortunately, our innings then entered its third distinct phase, this one decisive. Suddenly the runs - or at least the boundaries - dried up: both Neil (who finished on 18* off 25 balls) and Phil (who was caught behind for 15 off 23 balls) could only manage dots and singles in the second half of our innings, and our hopes of victory faded into a hypnotic sequence of "."s and "1"s in the scorebook. By the start of the last over John Moore was sent out with instructions "not to get out LBW this time!" which technically he followed - he was bowled second ball - after which Joe White (4* off 5 balls) finished off the innings with a dismissive boundary which only served to remind us what might have been.