At 5pm today I was staring out of my office window, unable to distinguish between the rain outside and my own tears -- an involuntary lament for the cricket game that would not be. When the phone rang I knew it could only mean one thing: match cancelled.
I wanted to ignore it; I wanted to run away to a place with sensible weather. But I knew that I would never be able to escape the sound of the phone, no matter how far I went. And there was also an opportunity to be a smart-arse, given that I knew it would be Geoff calling with the bad news. So I picked up the phone.
``Hi, it's Geoff here . . . oh . . . right . . . '' came the confused reply.
Perfect! Now for the killer blow. ``You just called to tell me the game's cancelled and you want me to tell the people at the Cavendish?''
``No, actually.'' I could feel him rearing up to his full height as if to scold a naughty schoolboy. ``The game is not cancelled -- I just talked to Dave Norman and it's still on until further notice.''
Served me right, I guess.
Further notice never came. In the hour after the above phonecall the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and Fitzwilliam Cricket Ground became bathed in an eerie glow. The Woozlers Wandering Cricket Club arrived and chose to bat first. This resulted in a slow-but-steady start with George Speller (0/10, having beaten the outside edge numerous times) and Faruk Kara (1/23, having foxed the batsmen a similar number of times with his offies) keeping the scoring to a minimum. It took Woozlers until the 13th over to pass 50, but then they started to both hit out and run very aggressively. The former plan didn't work so well, but the latter did. They took quick singles, turned singles into twos, turned twos into threes, and turned our fielding to crap. There were overthrows, millions of missed run outs, and a general feeling of anarachy. Would have made a very amusing home video, but the bowlers -- Paul Jordan (1/21), Daniel Mortlock (0/16) and Phil Marshall (1/28) -- of course got grumpy, which then led to them making fielding mistakes too and the whole thing couldn't end too soon. In more quantitative terms, the success of the Woozlers' commando tactics can be measured by the fact that they scored at about 8 an over for the last third of their innings, taking their score to a respectable 106/4.
Our innings also started slow and steady, with the second wicket pair of Neville Fidler (42 with lots of elegant late cuts) and Tony Malik (49, more of which later) scoring the bulk of the runs required. Faruk Kara (7*) also provided support, but the most dramatic role was played by captain Dave Williams (1*) who came in with one run required off two balls. It is important to note that the reason he was in was that Tony had been caught and bowled off the previous ball for what we'd all thought was a half century, but has since turned out to be one short. This meant that despite having ``run his nuts off for Geoff'' he still had to pay his match fee (which Geoff pays if ``Geezer'' makes it to 50).
On the other hand today marked Geoff Hales's 350th Remnants game, so it was probably fair that he wasn't paying anyone else's match fee. We all know that Remnants wouldn't have existed at all (and wouldn't function now) without the good doctor, so I think I can be so bold as to offer congratulations from the whole club, and toast the big 400, to be reached some time in 2004.