Guest Reporter – Jez Hope vs Ramsbottom

The sun was shining, with not a cloud in the sky as the players took to the field at the Brooks Foundation Ground. Ramsbottom had won the toss and elected to bat (or as Stan used to say ‘we’ll sunbathe’) on what looked a good batting pitch and Rusty had the same jeans on as the photo which appeared on the web site earlier this week.

Joe Hawke bowled from the park end with some pace with Toxi bowling a good line and length from‘tother. They beat the bat and found the outside edge a few times but all to no avail until Parton nicked one from Toxi into the safe hands of the nimble Frankie.

Its never easy bowling and fielding in these conditions but wickets always keep the fielding side going and make it easier to tolerate ‘fagging leather’. A few of the loyals talked about not a lot going for the ‘House, bowling with ‘no luck’. Do you know the apaches didn’t even have a word for luck?

A solid stand of over 50 between Hanson and Cropper comes to an end in Paddy Martins’ first over. And in comes Rammy’s pro Muthusamy. How many times have we seen it, starts to look like he thinks he can run for anything and these mere amateurs wont be able to run him out. Hanson run out for 20.

One of the Ramsbottom batters chips a ball in the direction of the legend that is Chris Bleazard at mid off. The ball hangs in the air….. Blez is back peddling, is he going to get there? No 1-0, great chip from Colin Pennington!

The game continues to hang in the balance, when will Rammy start to push the scoring along? They cant lose 2 or 3 wickets now as they do. Its a bit like a game of poker until the batsman plays a very deft forward defensive shot and it rolls to where silly point would be. He thinks there is a easy single as he cant see anyone racing in to field it. Joe Martin runs around the stumps, quick as a flash picks the ball up and the batter is 10 yards down the track. The crowd all get out of their sun loungers as Joe swivels almost ‘Stanesque’ takes aim, and doesn’t throw the ball? The batter gets back and we sit down. I wonder now if Joe felt this was a good time to pay tribute to the late, great darter Eric Bristow who also suffered from the ‘yips’ for a while.

It looks like Rammy are getting behind what the required run rate should be but never count your chickens. On pitches like this, with not a lot of bounce, but enough pace, the right type of batter can hit through the ball and things can change. Read and Fielding are these batters. It’s difficult bowling at this stage, you give it your all, get to your mark, plan where you intend to pitch it and make sure the field is right for that ball. Psych yourself up and as is so often seen, 6 inch out makes a big difference. As a ex LHCC bowler once said to his disgruntled captain after the 4th six, ‘it’s not my fault, he’s hitting ’em’.

From the last 6 overs of Ramsbottom’s innings they scored around 60 runs. In the first 6 overs of our innings we scored less than 5, the pressure was immense. Ben and Joe grafted their whatsits off, and in no way could be criticised. This is where psychology comes into the game, even at this level. The momentum had swung because of the teams lack of belief in those last few overs. It happens! Stay together, be strong and most of all support each other! Would we have settled for 219 at the start? Of course. Were we fed up with the last few overs? Its difficult, but we shouldn’t be. This is where the shouting, the pats on the back and fielders running to encourage bowlers, if not at the end of the over, certainly when they get a wicket! It situations like this where true leaders stand up, not just the captain or the bowler.

Stop the game; its like a piano gathering speed down Rossendale Road with no one in control, someone needs to step up and say ‘I’ll try this’ or ‘lets do this’. Doing something, if it doesn’t come off, hay hum you tried, don’t be afraid to fail. Old tricks like chatting to the bowler, pretend your talking about another tactic or a weakness the batter has. The score was more like 235 when Ben and Joe walked out and because Rammy were on a high and the pressure mounting made the total appear to be nearer 250.

Anyway, Joe Hawke was out for 2 and then Ben walks to a nick behind. Frankie and Ocki steady the ship. 18 for 2 off 12, 40 for 2 off 18, again the run rate doesn’t matter at this stage, wickets in the shed (oh no sorry the dressing rooms, they have been done up!) will count for so much on tracks like this. Paddy joins Ocki after Frankie is bowled. A very steady, now experienced player, keeping the wickets in tact. Paddy can shift between the wickets and I sometimes wonder if the opposition know that he wont try and work singles in the 1st four overs he faces and as such set their field accordingly. Maybe Nick Hope and Stan could have a chat with him. Haha memories, think that was Rammy at home, when we were effectively 0 for 2 off 1 ball when Nick ran Stan out, tore his hamstring and Stan had to carry him off!

46 for 3 off 23 becomes 65 for 3 off 29, 7.4 per over? That’s on, especially as Ocki and Paddy are now scoring freely and we have some good positive batters to come. This goes up to 7.9 with us wanting 122 off the last 16. Paddy starts to open his broad shoulders and the maximum is scored on a couple of occasions. One big shot to cow corner! Website man Adam’s underneath it, gets into a good position, dives and spills it. A shout comes from the direction of Gav Shields, ‘what’s your nickname cock, greasy palms!’

89 off 12 and Paddy goes for another 6 and is stumped. Blez in and out caught at slip and in comes Charlie. With Ocki,  they play really well scoring enough without taking too many chances.

We only score 2 from the 42nd and 45th overs, this has ramped the pressure up and Charlie is out stumped. Ben Uttley strides to the crease and looks great. 3 off the 46th and then Ocki is caught at long off as the fielder takes a good running catch. Game over? Ben doesn’t think so and with Toxi keeps the runs flowing. Great 6 from Ben into the park before he is out for 19, top innings from the youngster, which will do him a world of good. Lewis joins Toxi and its all or nothing now. Lewis goes for a big hit towards the car park and is caught. LHCC all out, Ramy 12 points, us 4.

Onwards and upwards chaps, you are a great side!