Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Nuclear armageddon could have come to Cambridge this evening without greatly reducing the sum pleasure of the twenty-two wretched souls whose fate it was to take part in today's Remnants vs. Granta cricket match at Fitzwilliam College's sodden playing fields. Sadly there were no million-degree fireballs to rescue us from the misery, although the ink black sky and near-constant drizzle were maybe a rough approximation to a nuclear winter.
Naturally enough, we had to field first and soon felt the wrath of Granta's star batsman who, with minimal support, took his team's score to a scarecly-believeable 99/1 after just 6 eight-ball overs. (Today's new ball lasted for all of 16 legitimate deliveries before being lost forever in the bloody ditch.)
The wet ground and wet ball combined nicely with the fact that we already had a lost game on our hands to make enthusiasm as difficult to muster up as consecutive dot balls, but a few stars shone out in the gloom. With most of the runs coming square of the wicket our two boundary riders, Nev Fidler and Faruk Kara, were forced to stop countless hard-hit shots but were more than up to the task (especially tricky in the wet conditions); Martin Law (2/18) bowled a double-wicket maiden, conceded runs at less than half the rate of any other bowler, and took two catches; and, er, that was about it.
The innings was, of course, dominated by the aforementioned batsmen - he barely missed a single ball, didn't even give a half-chance until the last ball of the innings, scored 143 runs (73 per cent of the team's total), and may have smiled at one point. His lack of pleasure at his own batting exploits may be explained by the fact that he'd recently been dropped from Granta's first team; but if he couldn't enjoy the game, what chance did the rest of us have?
Captain Watson demanded his troops mount an all-out assault on our target - a mere 197 - and we might have been able to get close if a couple of our talented batsmen had been ``on song'' . . . whereas instead all our top order got starts (Nick Clarke, 37, Phil Marshall, 16, Nev Fidler, 14, Phil Watson, 13, Faruk Kara, 13, and Rich Savage, 11*) without anyone going on to make, say, 143*. It is maybe not surprising that nobody was on top form, the run chase so quickly becoming implausible that the game lacked any of the intensity that is needed to get the adrenaline pumping. Seldom can such a fast-scoring innings - we made a perfectly respectable 138/6 off our 120 balls - have been quite so yawn-inducing.
So, for the second time in a fortnight an ex-Granta I batsman's century completely dominated one of our evening knock-abouts. But whereas Dave Norman's 111* was integral to an exciting final ball Remnants victory, today's extrardinary performance took what was already likely to be a grey, wet and miserable experience and ensured that it would be the cricketing equivalent of a three-hour coach trip to Milton Keynes sitting next to a morbidly obese fishmonger who's just finished a nine-hour shift and, having discovered that you're an ``astrologer'' by trade, wants to convince you that the gravitational forces between the planets really could explain the fact that he's always suffered from chronic flatulence, even when he hadn't eaten two prawn vindaloos the night before . . .