Report by Daniel Mortlock:
War is hell. Amongst the many horrors of combat is the sort of mental deterioration whereby it becomes very difficult - impossible even - to tell one's friends from one's enemies. Such was the case here today, with our nominal leader, the hirsute Phil Watson, performing miracles with both bat and ball, but on behalf of our opposition. And then there were allegedly reliable Remnants - the sort of men you'd want next to you in the trenches - who either crumpled under the pressure or had accepted bribes from the opposition.
It all began with some disastrously expensive opening overs, with far too many long-hops served up to the Girton openers, one of whom scooted along to a very quick 20-odd before Paul Henderson (1/22) removed him with a deceptive fuller ball. At the other end Daniel Mortlock dished up some rather untidy wrist spin, being lucky to get 1/21 - the wicket was a sharp caught-and-bowled chance delicately grasped between wrist and stomach (shades of things to come). This brought the aforementioned Mr Watson to the crease, and, as is his way, he chanced his arm with some cleanly hit pulls and drives. One of which went to the right of captain Dave Rowson at midwicket -- he dived full-length, clasped the ball in his outstretched hand . . . only for it to pop out as he thudded into the ground. Then Russell Woolf (1/27) temped Phil with some slower balls, yielding a couple of lofted drives that went straight to Daniel, who'd been positioned at long-off for just this purpose . . . but who wasn't up to the job. Faruk Kara (2/19) solved the problem by bowling Phil - but by this stage he'd hit a swashbuckling 52, and Girton were already 100/3 after 14 overs, with a big score was all but guaranteed. Faruk also bowled the new man first ball, and went damn close to getting a hat-trick, with all the field clustered around the fresh batsman. In the end Russell Woolf got this wicket, inducing an edge which was taken brilliantly by Paul Henderson, diving forward at slip. The end of Girton's innings wasn't so eventful as what had gone before, but they still made it to 138/5 . . .
. . . and so we needed 7 an over to win - difficult, but with Girton being somewhat short of bowlers, it was certainly not out of reach. Faruk was also our dominant contributor with the bat, scoring a fine 67*, with a number of fantastic cuts and pulls (although that was partly ensured by the, uh, "variable" line chosen by the Girton bowlers). Alas, no-one stayed with him for long enough to accelerate the overall scoring rate: Phil Marshall (7) played some typically elegant strokes before being done by an inswinger; Daniel, given a chance at redemption, raced to 10 off 5 balls, but then did his best to ensure Herr Watson's man-of-the-match award by giving him a gleefully accepted chance for a direct hit run-out; Dave Rowson (14) stayed the longest, but was bowled by guess who; and Rich Savage was also bowled by Phil in the last over as darkness crept across the ground. In the end Colin Anderson was left with the task of scoring 14 off the last ball - a bloody big hit was required. Sadly he could only manage a very big hit - a 4 through midwicket - and so Girton won by 9 runs.
Whilst it was frustrating losing this battle, it's the longer term damage that is more worrisome. Can we ever trust our sometimes captain again - his quickfire 52, tidy 2/25 and direct hit run-out aren't representative of his performances for us this year. And can we ever feel confident that our overseas players will be giving their all? Only time will tell - but for the moment, from Fitzwilliam Cricket Ground, Cambridge, this is Daniel Mortlock signing off.