TRCC vs. Catcliffe Way - August 25th 2012

... and so to the all important penultimate game away to Catcliffe Way. A glorious sunny summers day beckoned players onto the field - just a pity that field was nowhere near Reading. Instead we were treated to an overcast day complete with background thunderstorms skirting perilously close to the outfield and the distant music from Reading Festival.
Twyford won the toss and fielded, banking on a strong bowling line-up to cause havoc with Catcliffe. Walkland decided that wides were the order of the day and proceeded to keep the batsmen out of nick by not presenting a ball within striking distance. No runs of the bat for the first 4 overs and then Walkland finally decided that bowling at the stumps was a better plan and promptly hit them with a yorker. New bat in and the rain started to fall but being made of stern stuff we persisted in the field. Then the rain starting falling heavily but the umpires decided we may as well finish the last 2 balls of the over. Walkland and TRCC were grateful for that decision with the next wicket falling, pre-empting the run to get the somewhat heavy covers onto the strip and still 1 ball left in the over :) That however was the last of the fun for TRCC in the field. Catcliffe made slow but steady progress for no further loss getting to drinks on 63 for 2. Bowling changes proved fruitless and the runs started to mount. Walkland picked up a third wicket and Cochrane chipped in with a couple, one courtesy of a magnificent catch once again by 'safe as houses' Hogarth at deep mid-off, whilst C Fort gave a few birthday presents away during his two over spell. At the end of the innings Catcliffe without ever looking truly dominant had managed to hit 222 for 5 and 83* for Shacklady.
Apte and Downes opened and despite the odd flurry from Apte runs were not flowing. Downes fell in the 12th over which brought Barrable to the crease. Was this the start of the legendary TRCC collapse ? Certainly not on this occasion! Apte and Barrable fought valiantly to maintain their vigil at the crease with some mighty blows from Apte, but drinks came and went with TRCC on 55 for 1. The activists on the boundary were calling for more action and wondering if this was some great master plan to send Catcliffe to sleep. A quick acceleration by Barrable in the 30th over saw a boundary but a few balls later Barrable was making the walk back to the wonderfully quaint pavilion with the changing rooms upstairs. So 140 needed of 14 overs, wickets in hand but Catcliffe more than happy and TRCC facing relegation. Walkland had other ideas though with one of the most magnificent displays of whacking a ball seen by TRCC. In the failing light his 50 came up of just 23 balls and with Apte chipping in from the other end it was becoming more of a variable contest. Apte finally fell for a well earned 72. New batsmen coming to the crease found the light conditions so bad that seeing the ball was rather difficult never mind hitting it. A procession of quick wickets saw the middle order come and go for very little but Walkland kept swinging. Dare TRCC believe in the unbelievable? Catcliffe were no longer smiling and despite wickets falling at the other end the prize wicket of superman Walkland eluded them. The electronic scoreboard was now interfering with the natural light but still we played on. Then disaster struck, not in the form of a lightning bolt from the thunderstorms around us, but in the form of a top edge from Walkland gathered safely by the keeper, out for a personal best and TRCC season high of 88. Catcliffe jubilant and TRCC now in the perilous situation of potentially losing the game. 10 runs needed, 5 balls left and last bat out into the gloom but a Catcliffe victory was denied and a memorable drawn game resulted.
Ultimately not the result TRCC needed but as it turns out its not all over yet! No longer in our own hands as we now need Sandhurst to beat Catcliffe in the last match of the league season or at least getting a good winning draw, whilst TRCC need to thump Warfield at home! The grid below shows the average each team will have upon gaining x points in the final game. Given 2 points for an umpire, even a bad loss by Catcliffe will most likely see them pick up at least 6 points which would give them an average of 14.43. For TRCC to exceed this average we need to score 33 points or more. That effectively means win the toss and bat or loose the toss and be put into bat! If Catcliffe have no umpire and they loose really badly then maybe 32 points would be enough but thats seems far less likely. If they got a good winning draw at 11 points then we would need the full maximum of a 35 pointer plus the 2 umpire points!
Slightly complicated and our fate may be effectively dealt with upon the toss on Saturday (just as it was a couple of years ago btw) but still its a chance and we have it within ourselves to make the most of it! If we could just bottle up the team spirit from the Waltham game, the bowling prowess from Sulhampstead and the batting feats from Catcliffe and replay these in one final game we can give ourselves the best end to whats been a mediocre and frustrating season both weather watching and on the pitch.
So final call for the league team players to come forward, make sure Stuart has your availablility and bring your game hats on for one final showdown - it is still possible - lets just all believe it !
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