Another roller-coaster of a game for our first XI at Rochdale’s Redbrook ground. Rain definitely stopped play but not the excitement.
Ramsbottom’s gamble on batting first seemed to have backfired as runs proved hard to come by on a wicket which offered plenty of assistance to the bowlers. Add to this the fact that in Stephen Oddy – Rochdale have one of the best medium pace bowlers in the League it was no surprise that wickets fell at regular intervals and at 37 for 5 an early finish looked on the cards.
Enter Brad Fielding and in his own inimitable style he decided that the best form of defence was attack. With the score not even on a half century -Fielding was joined by skipper Tom Parton who had put himself down the order to protect a hairline fracture of the thumb. Both played positively and runs came at a pace with Brad having the audacity to hit Oddy out of the ground for a mighty 6. When he had reached 27 from 29 balls with 24 overs remaining and the opportunity of making a decent score, young Fielding, not for the first time, committed batting suicide by charging unnecessarily down the track and getting bowled.
This seemed to make up the mind of the Rammy skipper that he had to start calling the shots. This he did in magnificent style hitting the ball to all parts of the ground and guiding the Ramsbottom total to an unlikely 143 all out. Parton’s innings of 58 included 4 x 4’s and 3 x 6’s and came off just 47 balls. Mention should be also made of the contribution of young Owen Collinge, who although only scoring 9, continues to show maturity with his batting.
With the potential of the weather worsening the Rams knew they had to bowl tight and take early wickets to stay in the game.
Skipper Parton surprised some supporters by opening the attack with Burdaky and Simon Hanson. However, both bowled pretty tight and Hanson should have taken the first wicket when the Rochdale opener spooned the ball up to slip. It was a catch most grandmothers could have held but inexplicably our Pro George put it down. Simon did get his reward in the following over when Wilkinson was well caught in the deep by Jack Wynn. Shortly after the rains came and 8 overs were lost before play was resumed. This meant Duckworth -Lewis was going to be brought into play on the completion of 20 overs. Shortly after the resumption Hanson struck again having the opener, who had survived an earlier ‘Dolly, caught by the diving Pro, a chance 100 times more difficult than the one he had previously grounded.
This brought Dawson to the wicket to join the Rochdale Pro and the ex Rammy United player seemed intent on pushing Rochdale in front of the required run rate. He did this in one over by taking 15 off Simon Hanson’s only loose over. Although the Rams continued to bowl tight the home side continued to keep in front of the required run-rate, excellently displayed on the home team scoreboard. As the rain approached it was clear the Rams needed a wicket and Tom Parton brought on Jack Wynn. In his second over and the rain already falling Jack bowled a full-length delivery to Dawson who smashed it. For all the world it looked like a certain boundary which would ensure a home team victory. Nobody had told Rehan Udwadia however who took off and took a one-handed catch which would have merited hundreds of replays if the game had been televised. A truly magnificent effort. This wicket had the effect of bringing the scores level and with the rain coming down heavier it was clear this was going to be the last over and Rochdale needed to score 1 run in the remaining 2 deliveries. They were unable to do as Wynn put the ball on the spot.
When the players came off the rain became more persistent and eventually the captains shook hands and the game ended in a tie giving the Rams an unlikely 7 points.
Man of the Match was skipper Tom but Rehan’s catch will live long in the memory.