After such a good start to the season we'd suddenly gone the best part of three weeks without a win, and so it was decided to play a match against ourselves to ensure that at least some of us experienced the thrill of victory once again. To be fair, the Remnants vs. Remnants game has become one of our most anticipated fixtures, and this year, in honour of the great world leader George Bush, it was to be a contest between the two ``dubyas'', captains Williams and Watson.
The game started out like some sort of Twilight Zone episode, with Nick Clarke bowling spin to Les Collings, rather than the reverse as might have been expected. This intriguing battle didn't produce a winner (Les's pink polo shirt being an even match for Nick's fawn socks), leaving John Gull to steal the early honours with the day's best bowling spell and figures of 2/10.
Tony Malik (81*) and John Young (20) then successfully rebuilt team Williams's innings, taking the score from 28 to 115 without further loss. They achieved this through careful batting, rather than outright domination, largely because Phil's policy of giving the bowlers one over spells kept the batsmen from getting into any sort of rhythm. Despite playing a quality innings it was Tony who was most troubled by this approach: first Dave Green goaded him into throwing his bat long before any slogging was needed (but nobody was hurt and the game proceeded more sensibly after the discarded willow had been returned from the mid-wicket region); and then Geoff Hales went within a few millimetres of having him caught behind (but sadly the ball just slid past the outside edge, leaving the season's champagne moment still up for grabs). It wasn't until the second last over that Paul Jordan (1/4) made the long-sought after breakthrough, but it was too late to prevent Dave's team making it to a healthy 132/3.
Twenty four sweaty Remnants (twelve-a-side, silly) jostled for space in the dressing room at the change of innings, but we all had a welcome breather for the traditional team photo which, Boots willing, may even appear on this web-site at some future date.
With Phil's batsmen needing to score at more than a run a ball , Dave's bowlers merely needed to bowl tightly to ensure victory, and Mike Jones (0/16, with some nice outswing), Rob Harvey (1/14) and Martyn Waterfall (1/14, landing his offies, as ever, on the perfect length) started out on the right track. Daniel Mortlock (20) and Phil Marshall (39) put together the innings's only significant partnership, but they scored too slowly, leaving the subsequent batsmen with a rather difficult task. Still, with professional finishers Nick Clarke and Phil Watson coming in, the result was far from certain . . .
. . . until Monday's run out madness leaked over into today's game. A combination of good fielding and the pressure of the required run rate (soon 40 needed off 4 overs) meant the batsmen kept trying to turn twos into threes, the main result of which was that most of Dave's team had the chance to participate in a dismissal or two.
The fielders did get a bit carried away, with some silly appealing, not to mention Anton's unintentional game of charades. It started off with a touching homage to the final shot of The Bridge On The River Kwai -- instead of Alec Guinness falling onto the plunger to blow up the eponymous bridge, Anton, having caught a somewhat errant return, stumbled to the ground as he attempted to run out the distant batsmen. But the slow-motion fall was misjudged, and he found himself lying face-down, the stumps tantalisingly out of reach. After forlornly wobbling the ball next to the wicket (with the batsmen still some distance from safety) he began to drag himself towards the stumps, putting at least me in mind of the final scenes of The Terminator when Arnie's emotionless cyborg, sans legs, was forced to employ the same means of locomotion. Anton eventually made the painful two-inch journey to the stumps and, with one last gasp, dislodged a bail. Unfortunately for him, the batsmen had made his ground some seconds earlier and was already adjusting his pads and complimenting his partner on the good running. (Not that this stopped a muted appeal from somewhere near square leg.)
A few overs later Les Collings (2/16) and Phil Watson combined for a comparably anarachic, if double-edged, piece of cricketing ballet. Les fielded a straight drive off his own bowling and was about to walk back to his mark when he realised that Phil, with sore back and big turning circle, was still out of his crease. Les lunged for the stumps; Phil lunged for, well, Les in the end; the bails came off; and batsman and bowler fell down in a loving embrace. Phil began making some rather unhappy sounds, presumably in protest at the umpire's decision (out), but then we realised that he'd done his shoulder a pretty serious mischief and he was in a lot of pain. After a lot of people crowded round him and said things like ``Does it hurt when I do this?'' (whilst prodding Phil's shoulder) and ``I think you've hurt your shoulder'' (when said prods resulted in more unhappy noises) it was determined that no long-term damage had been done. This is still believed to be the case as we go to press, and hopefully His Furriness will soon be back where he belongs (i.e., the cricket field).
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Robin Woolley (11) and Mike Scanlon (8, run out for the second time in a week in the name of quick runs at the death) looked to be in with a chance with 20 needed off 18 balls. They managed to score 5 off the next over, after which, of course, some elementary arithmetic is sufficient to deduce that 25 were needed off the final two overs. Yes, that's what we thought too -- it turns out there was a communication breakdown and the target had been 30, not 20, at the start of the over. So, after that bit of deliberate misinformation by Williams's lackeys in the clubhouse, the game should have been declared null and void. Instead it was played to a finish, most likely in the form of a fifth and six run out, but Dave Green (1*) and Tom Jordan (2*, to go with superb fielding earlier in the game) managed to bat out the final over without further loss. (And this despite, despite Chris's curious umpiring decision to allow an unprecendented extra ``baker's'' delivery and subsequent running and fielding confusion after a horrendous series of misfields.)
So ended yet another Remnants loss, but at least this one was a Remnants victory as well. First priority in the humid conditions was fluid replacement, and what better way for the modern sportsman to restore his mineral balance than with an isotonic spo-- oh, okay, a few pints of bitter. We did at least try experimenting with a protein-rich beer containing -- and I still can't believe I saw this with my own eyes -- a boiled egg. (Well, that's what happens when Dave leaves amateurs like Andy to run the bar.)
Dave also provided a plentiful tea before he left, but it vanished rapidly into a rampant Anton, unencumbered by cute female company this time. (Oh, and, information was forthcoming on his mysterious escort at the FAS game a few weeks back -- ``just a friend'' apparently.)