Words: Josh Willmott
A quick forward to this match report, it will neither be particularly long or hold many positives. Much like the 2nd XI innings this Saturday…
An ‘on paper’ decent looking 2nd XI hosted Long Ditton CC this Saturday in what was hoped would be a good opportunity to continue the winning streak and our march up the table. Spolier alert, this was not to be the case. RCC won the toss and made the seemingly sensible decision to bowl first on a pitch that had seen a lot of rain over the recent weeks, despite the majority of our bowlers still not having turned up (more on that later), we eventually set about our work to either dismiss or restrict Long Ditton to a chaseable target, thus ensuring more time at the BBQ later on. This message of ‘dismiss’ or ‘restrict’ didn’t seem to register with most of the RCC players unfortunately.
Despite the odd decent ball here and there from Shahid and Dhilhan (on 2s debut), RCC managed to feed their opening batters strengths, in the form of a diet of short balls, wide balls, full balls and generally not very good balls, allowing Long Ditton’s openers to race along to a solid 50 opening partnership. First change bowlers Zak and Babs started to offer some control and pick up a couple of wickets to stem the flow of runs, however mixed with enough bad balls that the 2s were very rarely on top. A strange pattern then settled in with a steady flow of wickets (good) mixed in with the continued policy of giving opposition batsmen plenty of bad balls to score off, enough charitable donations from our bowlers that the club could probably claim gift aid from it at the end of the season.
After every wicket there was talk about restricting Long Ditton to as small a target as possible, knowing that the pitch was misbehaving and that any chase would be difficult. That target started off as ‘below 120’, then ‘below 130’ then ‘ok lets not chase more than 150’ before eventually we were chasing north of 180. A couple of dropped catches from the usually reliable hands of Sacha and Mods were the only real fielding blemishes, which I suppose is a positive, but then when you take 8 wickets out of 10 either bowled or LBW, you would really hope that the lesson ‘bowl straight’ would have been learned eventually. Chasing 180, it clearly hadn’t.
Massive credit has to be given to Long Ditton’s no. 4 who batted through a large chunk of the innings for 52* from 100 balls, clearly setting the example to RCC batsmen that the pitch whilst difficult, was not impossible, and application as ever would be the key to chasing this down.
Spoiler alert, the 2s batting line up didn’t learn that lesson from the Long Ditton no. 4.
A very good new ball pair from Long Ditton (probably 2 of the better new ball bowlers we’ve faced in the league this year to be fair to them) quickly found out the formula to bowling on a pitch that was a bit up and down, something that in nearly 49 overs RCC hadn’t, and that was to bowl straight. As many balls as possible, hit the stumps and wait for either a) the pitch to misbehave, or b) the batsman to do something stupid.
And it turned out, funnily enough, that both of those things happened, fairly regularly. Whilst the pitch did go up and down a bit, there was generally a significant chunk of batsman error associated with each wicket. There isn’t much more to say on the RCC innings, 2 players reached double figures (not including extras, who scored an invaluable 14*) and no one passed 20. All out for 75 before a drinks break was needed. Any highlights to mention, at all, I hear you ask. Not really, Fuchsy left a ball on length which sailed over his middle stump which was quite exciting, but by that point at 75-9, we’re clutching at straws.
All in all, not very good. And to be honest, not a surprise. If you’d asked a spectator before the match started which team was on a 4 match winning streak and sitting solidly mid table and which team was struggling near the relegation zone, they’d have likely said the team struggling must have been the 6 blokes running around 10 minutes before the start, trying to sort stuff out with no sign of the rest of their team. Alas, that was Roehampton. An all too frequent site and one which sets the tone for the day. If we want to continue to compete in this league, we need to do better, and that starts before the first ball is bowled.
MOM – any of Long Ditton’s players