If we're honest with ourselves mid-week cricket is a pretty frivolous business, something made quite clear when tonight's match was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of Pauline Parker, wife of Remnants stalwart Martin Parker, who died over the weekend.
After this sombre prelude it felt like it would be difficult to get into the game, but it started rather dramatically, with a wicket off the second ball: Hart-McLeod's opener, having been deceived by Paul Jordan's unerring accuracy, gloved a slow motion bouncer to Ev Fox behind the stumps. There followed a rather wild period of play during which the opposition collapsed to be 17/5 -- both Paul (3/9) and George Speller (2/8) bowled quite well but, in all honesty, not quite well enough to explain the score. Beyond the bowlers' obvious pleasure at all this, there were also some fielding highlights: Ev also completed a spectacular diving catch; George snaffled a running effort behind square leg; and Andy Owen made his one-handed grab at silly mid-on look ridiculously easy.
The flip-side of all this was that the match was all but won inside twenty minutes although, as it turned out, there was still plenty of fun to be had. Daniel Mortlock (1/15), Les Collings (2/14) and Colin Anderson (1/12) ensured that wickets kept tumbling and Graham Stafford (0/9), Andy Owen (0/6) and Phil Watson (0/5) all kept things tight. But we were faced with a seriously classy batsman who made a stylish 36* in partnership with ex-Remnants captain Graham Hart's somehwat more careful innings. We also maintained our good standard in the field, with Phil Marshall and Daniel adding to what must surely be a record haul of catches, although the latter's last over drop resulted in Phil Watson having a rare wicketless over. That said, Phil himself generously warned the Hart-McLeod number eleven for backing up about five yards too far and then elected not to complete a simple run out off the last ball, so clearly wickets weren't at an all-time premium by this stage.
As the sides changed over and captain Phil Watson tried to work out how to organise his batting riches, most of us headed off to the bar, safe in the knowledge his services would not be needed. This assumption certainly seemed warranted as Phil Marshall (19), Mike Sneyd (a fabulous 24) and Andy Owen (13) took us to a comfy 60/1 in the 14th over, but then the wheels fell off, 5 wickets falling for 15 runs. Normally such a collapse would be fatal, but in the context of our minimal target it was merely amusing, and even though we started the final over still needing 3 runs there didn't seem too much doubt that we'd win. With the game having come full circle, the ill-fated Hart-McLeod opening batsman saw Ev Fox (7*) dropped off his only delivery of the game and then, adding insult to injury, the winning run scampered on an overthrow.
Most of the Hart-McLeod players (and their attendant throng of groupies) joined us at for a few drinks at the bar and then headed off for a protein-rich athletic training meal at the local curry house. Cricket is indeed a serious game.