Drops prove costly as Cobo rack up 204

THERE have been many cracking games in this shortened Division One season.

Up-and-coming left-arm seamer Ben Johnson bowls to Cobo captain Josh Butler at the KGV on Tuesday evening. Tim Ravenscroft is the batsman at the non-striker’s end. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28518577)
Up-and-coming left-arm seamer Ben Johnson bowls to Cobo captain Josh Butler at the KGV on Tuesday evening. Tim Ravenscroft is the batsman at the non-striker’s end. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28518577)

But this was not among them.

Butter-fingered Optimists, short of two of their best batsmen and fielding a handful of youngsters, dropped their chances – one estimate was nine – and they were battered to all parts of KGV by the division’s premier breaker of bowlers’ hearts, Tim Ravenscroft and Josh Butler.

With both men reaching the 80s, Cobo were able to rattle up 204 in 20 overs and ease to an 86-run win as they strengthened their grip on the title race.

Yet, there were good things to see in the Optis’ display, not least the clear promise of young left-armer Ben Johnson and the right-arm seamer, Peter Birch.

One suspects that in a few summers to come, they may have developed sufficiently to perhaps have the last laugh on the best batsmen, at least on occasion.

Cobo won the toss and batted, but ‘Optis’ struck in the first over, Jamie Nussbaumer edging into the keeper’s hands in responding aggressively to an Alex Robin bumper and in the next James Hudson had Tim Ravenscroft’s stumps flying.

The only problem was that the batsman was reacting to a free hit after Hudson had delivered an above-waist beamer the ball before.

On such issues matches can be won and lost when Ravenscroft is around.

Having seen the first centuries of the Division One programme scored last week, the Cobo ‘flailer’ might have been quietly eyeing his own.

It was a quieter and scratchy start, though, from Ravenscroft, who initially seemed unable to find the sweet spot.

Optimists must have felt satisfied in conceding just 35 off the first five and even more so in seeing young left-armer Johnson having Ravenscroft playing and missing outside the off stump.

It was not until the ninth over that the opener finally got hold of one, pulling the spinner Mark Jeffries for six over long on to reach 30.

He clearly felt better for it.

The next over he crashed Johnson over long-off for a four that very nearly went all the way.

Halfway was reached with Cobo 75 for 1 and threatening a tasty total.

By now, Butler had joined Ravenscroft in the 30s and the race was on to reach the half-century.

Only one separated the second-wicket pair going into the 12th – 39 versus 38 – and Ravenscroft survived a thick edge to point, a disappointment to young seamer Birch.

Butler, too, gave two chances, both shelled, as he moved into the mid-40s and with a swipe to leg he got to 50 first.

The Cobo cat was out of the bag and Optimists, just as they had done four days earlier, were going to be set a stiff target.

Young Birch showed promise and did not deserve to see another boundary catch put down, which allowed Ravenscroft to go to his 50.

Meanwhile, young spinner Ollie Clapham was greeted by two sixes and a four smashed by Butler, the latter coming after yet another spill. The next ball also went for six and smashed a car windscreen – the over went for 26.

Butler finally went for 83 in the 16th, having left his strike-starved partner in the mid-50s.

Yet, in a flash, Ravenscroft was into his 60s, 70s and 80s before being undone by a superb slower delivery from a deserving Birch.

Optimists will have been relieved to see the mayhem end and also pleased to see Johnson return from the park end with a flourish. He really is one for the future.

Ollie Newey brought up the 200 in the last over with a crunching six onto the 3G and a target of 205 was always going to be out of their reach against a varied attack and a step up from the Wanderers-Rovers bowlers who Optis had smashed to all parts last week.

Last week’s centurion Ben Maxton went cheaply and it was only when James Ridout (32) and James Hudson (21) came together in a fruitful and unbroken 57-run seventh-wicket partnership did they have much to smile about.

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