After what seemed like a week of wash-outs, today's game against Cambridge Granta was played in a blaze of sunshine, muted only by a certain chemical haze in the air. And, like last season's match against Granta, the game had the potential to be polluted by the domination of one or two players who probably too strong for their thirds, and definitely too good for Remnants.
This possibility was turned into a certainty within the first few overs of Granta's innings, with the more talented of the openers scoring fours at will and hitting the ball scarily hard. This had a fairly detrimental effect on the bowling figures, with Paul Jordan (0/34, unlucky to have a few edges go through the slips), Daniel Mortlock (0/22), Russell Woolf (0/24, despite bowling a tight line) and Mark Burrows (0/38) all being hit about. However one of these full-blooded strokes had an even more detrimental effect on Tony Malik -- a cover drive bounced up into his face, splitting the skin open over the bridge of his nose. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (although not by Tony), but he was back on the field an over later and played an integral role in our fightback.
After the Granta openers put on 125 for the first wicket, our final pair of bowlers, Phil Marshall (2/13) and Tony Malik (1/15), slowed the scoring and took wickets, something that the rest of us had been completely unable to do. Phil got Granta's humourless top-scorer for 87 while Tony clean bowled the next batsman in a demonstration of pure will. And even though the fielding never really reached any great heights we ended up with a vaguely plausible target of 157, rather than the 200-odd which had seemed a near certainty at the half-way point of the innings.
Our chase started fairly well, at over a run a ball, but Granta's superior fielding (i.e., almost all catches were taken) and faster bowling led to wickets falling at regular intervals. We all hoped Tony would get his revenge by making a huge score, but he fell for 4 to a slightly loose shot that was no doubt due to mild concussion. (Don't worry -- by the end of the game he was pretty right, if a little bloody.)
The best partnership was between Dave Williams (30) and Phil Marshall (23), but they were forced to play plenty of defensive shots, rather than ``tonking it'' as politely requested by Dave Green. At the half-way point we were on 56/2 -- a good start in general, but unlikely to be good enough here as it meant we needed 101 off the last 10 overs. The middle order set about the task of having a go, but the only material result of this was a bit of a collapse. The ``highlight'' of all this was Neville Fidler's first ball, which saw Granta's captain drop a simple catch at point and then, having noticed that Nev had wandered half-way up the pitch under the assumption he'd be caught, threw the ball at him (rather than at the wicketkeeper), allowing the batsmen to run one of the day's many overthrows. The scoring rate did eventually increase, with Daniel Mortlock (a rapid 38* being some sort of atonement for earlier fielding lapses), Rob Harvey (8 off 3 balls) and Paul Jordan (5*) all taking advantage of the part-time bowlers that Granta put on at the death. We scored an impressive 48 off the last five overs, but still fell 22 runs short of what would have been an undeserved victory.