Every so often sport gives a human being the chance to achieve something extrordinary. Our sporting heroes, those who have performed such miracles time and time again, are clearly remarkable people, but they also need the fortune of opportunity.
Dean Jones's double century against India in the summer of 1986/87 spings to mind: in extreme conditions -- 90% humidity and temperatures in the high 30s -- he lost some 10 kg during the innings and, by the end of it, was helplessly vomiting beside the pitch and urinating blood (rare in Remnants games). But he kept batting, taking his team to a dominant position and, in the process, ensuring his place in Australian cricket lore. The Test was tied in the end, and there were several great individual performances but, over those five days, Jones stood out from such champions as Border, Gavaskar, Dev and Waugh. (And, as an aside, there's no way he should have been dropped from the Australian Test team in the early '90s.)
If you've made it this far, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with Remnants vs. Corpus Christi College Cambridge Cricket Club (CCCCCC, or C^6, according to Dave Green). More than you think. Today was completely overcast, and all of us were struggling in the 15-degree heat, but only one of our number had the hunger to see out the entire innings . . .
Corpus put us into bat, and despite having a few pacey bowlers, did very little damage to our batting line-up. Four or five dropped chances may have had something to do with this, but they were difficult opportunities and the Corpus fielders clearly weren't ready to become heroes for their college. We scored at over a run a ball for the entire innings, with captain Dave Williams (33) and then Tony Malik (a quick 32*) joining Rich Savage (46*) in a pair of nice partnerships. But it was Rich, whom everyone presumed had got a half century at least, who flirted with greatness today, barely able to make it off the ground unassisted, and having to spend his match fee on a Gatorade to replenish the fluid he had lost (albeit by very different method to Jones in '87).
Despite having made our highest score for the season, we all believed that a win was out of the question, and indeed it was. A torrential downpour at the end of our innings stopped for long enough to allow George Speller one frustrating over with the sponge-like cricket ball, but after that it was curtains. We all headed into the bar to replace the fluids we'd lost during our few minutes in the field and indulge in the English cricketer's third favourite pastime: complaining about the weather.