After what seemed like an age, the Rams moved onto their second Vitality U19 T20 Group 7 fixture on Tuesday evening, hosting Lowerhouse Wrenegades in the first of three consecutive home fixtures. With both teams coming off a victory in their first fixture, this promised to be an exciting and competitive game of cricket between two sides with aspirations of progressing to the quarter finals.
On what has now become a typical British summer evening thanks to the positive work of climate change, Acre Bottom was drenched in sun under a cloudless sky and with the groundstaff finally going against their instincts and leaving more grass on the wicket, it looked like another high scoring game could be on the cards. With that in mind the Rams took the advantage of winning the toss and decided to bat first, looking to follow suit from the Tod game and set a formidable target.
That plan took a dent in the first over with Captain Nemo (Brad Fielding) finding the hands of mid-on with only 4 on the board. Much has been said of the effectiveness of shin high full tosses in T20 cricket, this dismissal further evidence of that. Ben Parkinson joined JJ at the crease but his innings was short lived after being caught at square leg on 1, hooking a short ball from Charlie Bithell (4-0-24-2). This summer has brought with it many surprises and you can add to that the sight of someone being bounced out at Acre Bottom. At 17-2 with two of the more dominant players in the shed, rebuilding was required and Nick Round and JJ set to the task.
Nick went about his work with patience, running hard between the wicket whilst JJ, showing his full repertoire of stroke play, continued his fine season with a blend of manipulation and dismissiveness including two reverse paddles off the seamers. Their 47 run partnership was finally brought to an end when a leading edge of the bowling of Robson Elliot ended JJ’s innings of 43 (23 balls, 6 x 4s and 1 x 6). Needing another level-headed period of play, new –to-the-wicket Codge joined Nick in assertive running between the wickets and without any real risk proceeded to go at 7 and 8’s an over. The fact that between their collective 65 runs only 22 were from boundaries showed how well they went about this. When Owen departed for 15 with 5 overs left it felt like a solid platform had been set to take the score to 160+, especially after Nick dispatched the off-break of Chhabra over the clubhouse.
However through a mixture of good bowling, smart bowling changes and some inexperience, the middle and lower order failed to capitalise, with only Ed Lee (12 from 13 balls) getting into double figures from the rest of the line-up. Jake Walker succumbed to the inswing of left-arm Tom Bridge (4-0-31-2), trapped LBW and the first of Umpire Wilkinson’s victims for 7, and he was quickly followed the next ball Dom Wood whose over-confidence from the Tod game resulted in being bowled through the gate driving for 0. With diminishing support Nick nurdled his way to 50 before forcibly being retired (47 balls, 3 x 4 and 1 x 6) leaving Ed and Tom Ireland to close the innings out. The Rams closed their innings on 142-6 which felt 10 to 15 short of par. Nonetheless this was another example of the maturity and adaptability that these young players possess throughout the team.
There was a confidence that this could be defended but it would require a top draw fielding and bowling performance which Owen started with aplomb. Following the tact of Bithell, Codge utilised the effective shin high full toss to dismiss Stansfield 3rd ball of the innings for 0, another well-judged LBW decision, Wrenegades 1-1 from 1. Chris Round followed from the Football Ground End and continued to be the gift that keeps giving with his controlled left arm orthodox, bowling Chabbra (3) with the score on 7 in the 2nd over. Uttley and Greenhalgh had an uphill task of getting the Wrenegades back in the game and looked to see off the talented opening pair. Jake Walker was introduced in the 5th over but clearly hampered by an injured knee sustained from his dismissal, his solitary over went for 10.
Brad turned to Dom Wood and Jahn Munir (3-0-17-2) seeking a breakthrough and on 27 Greenhalgh chased a wide delivery from Munir to be caught behind by the excitable Parkinson who had an excellent game with the gauntlets (had a review been available Greenhalgh may have utilised the option). Dom Wood (2-0-16-0) impressed the on looking 2nd team captain with his full of length delivery and takes the award for being the first man to swing the new pink balls and was unlucky not to pick up his first wicket of the campaign.
Ben Uttley proceeded to bat with maturity and whilst he was in Lowerhouse always seemed to be in the game despite the run rate creeping up. It is obvious why he continues to be a member of LCC 1st XI with his ability to score around the ground and was clinical with anything loose. Joined first by Wright (13 from 12) and then Nadeem (11 from 10), Uttley took the Wrenegades to 74-5 with 8 overs left. 8 ½ an over is more than doable on Acre Bottom, especially with the outfield resembling a glass table at the moment but would require more partnerships and some chance-taking. However with Owen being reintroduced to the attack the chase seemed over after blowing away the middle order with two quick wickets with the dimming light being lit up by the dancing Zing bails. His return of 3-0-11-3 was a fair reflection of a fine bowling performance.
Regular wickets proceeded to fall with Brad utilising 9 bowlers plus, taking advantage of his captain’s privileges to bring himself on to bowl a hostile over including a genuine bouncer. When Uttley retired on 50, the Wrenegades still required 35 with only 3 overs left and with him the last real chance of victory. Uttley had to come back out with the score on 111-9 but Chris wrapped up the innings with his dismissal, bowling him for a well-played 51 with finishing with remarkable figures of 3.4-2-4-3. Wrenegades 113 all out.
Another comprehensive result for this promising group of players and a well fought victory. The most pleasing thing about this victory was that the mistakes made with the ball in the Tod game were not repeated whilst the fielding was again impressive, especially the casual nature in which this team take their catches. Two wins from two sets us up nicely for the big game against Clitheroe Kings XI next week, the winner of which will surely be the team to top the group. It is also important to note the quality shown by the Lowerhouse team who are another example of the excellent coaching and youth set up they have at the Harry Brooks Foundation Ground.
We go again next Tuesday at Acre Bottom, 6PM start. Also a big thank you to the most organised DJ Rammy CC has ever seen, Matt Burdaky, who was bang on top of the tunes all night!