We were never going to do it the easy way.
A win today would have almost taped up promotion (and, indeed, put us top for the first time in weeks). In fairness though, we were beaten by a Brookweald side that are clearly playing some good cricket at the moment.
We won the toss and bowled first - probably would have batted first on a good deck if it hadn't been for the predicted monsoon that never came. We initially struggled to come to terms with an opening partnership that came out swinging from ball one, definitely something that we need to work on going forward. However, Dinesy stepped up and cleaned up 3 wickets in fairly quick succession with some decent inswing.
If we thought that those 3 wickets would quell the runrate then we were sadly mistaken. The new batsmen both got going quickly, rode their luck a touch, but kept the pressure right on us. While we managed to keep a lid on it for a while, slowly but surely some mistakes from us started to creep in. Cyril came on a nipped out a wicket, but the other batsman sailed past 50. After surviving a couple of close calls in the 70s, he suddenly moved into another gear and started to demolish the ball to all parts. While our ground fielding was poor, our catching was by and large excellent which did at least mean that we were able to keep chipping out wickets at the other end. Eventually, Gunnar pulled off a decent catch on the line to remove the set batsman for a brutal 140, although his innings ended in comedy when there was confusion as to whether he was out having been caught about 5 yards inside the boundary at long on! His innings proved to be the difference though, despite Cyril and Cilla ensuring that we captured maximum bonus points in the last over.
Although it was clearly a tough chase, we took confidence from scoring nearly 300 at Rankins last week. Attempting to follow the same template of getting a solid base to build on, Gunnar and I started slowly against some probing bowling. As we got in, the runs started to flow quicker and quicker and we were suddenly in the game. Unfortunately, a ball after passing 50, I suffered a temporary brain melt and played a truly awful shot to lose my middle stump. Gunnar then ran himself out, and once again we were doing our best to hand the game back to Brookweald.
A couple of partnerships got us back in the game, as Munch made an authoritative 50, but we lost Beaney bowled round his legs just as he was looking like he was about to free his arms. Loz came to the crease and continued his good form, hitting 49 including perhaps the highest 6 I have ever seen. Having got it down to around 12 an over for the last 8 overs, we were still in with a shout. Unfortunately, we then lost Munch. A breezy partnership between Loz and Cilla kept us in the hunt, but when we lost both in quick succession the jig was up and we had to make do with maximum batting points - a rare occasion where a team ends up with 10 bonus points but no 16 winnings points to go with it.
In the end, we have to hold our hands up and say we were beaten by the better side. This Brookweald team is clearly a more settled one than they were at the start of the year - their recent results show that. It's still in our hands (just about), us and Rankins have clearly just decided that we want this to go to the last game of the season! Five teams are still in with a shout, and all are playing each other all over the place so it is all set up for a grandstand finish. Exactly what we play cricket for, its now up to us to step up to the mark next week against Great Waltham.