Remnants vs. The CB XI

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (161/5 in 15 8-ball overs)
The CB XI (130/7 in 13.5 8-ball overs)

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Last time we played The CB XI we broke our mid-season losing streak through a combination of exuberant batting (compiling our highest total of the year) and sharp work in the field. Today's game almost followed that pattern but, as we shall see, the match finished - or, more to the point, didn't finish - shrouded in darkness, both figurative and literal.

Once again we batted first, but instead of romping to 31/0 after the first two eight-ball overs, we romped to 35/1 with Nick Clarke (27 off 20 balls) leading the way. Neither Daniel Mortlock (22 off 27 balls) nor Phil Watson (a very stylish 28 off 36 balls, including possibly the shot of the season, an exquisite cover drive off The CB XI's best bowler) scored quite as quickly as Nick, but a steady stream of extras and misfields ensured that the we had the hundred up in the eleventh over.

When Phil and Daniel were both dismissed in quick succession it seemed the innings might have been robbed of its momentum, but Andy Owen (26* off 16 balls) and Dave Williams (23* off 12 balls) combined brilliantly to score 56 off the last four overs. The resultant total of 161/5 wasn't quite as high as last time's 193/4, but it surely represented an impossible target with the Sun already nudging the horizon.

The CB XI batsmen had to take risks from the outset, with the inevitable result that wickets tumbled with great regularity. Daniel Mortlock (1/14) struck in the first over, and Les Collings (0/27) was unlucky to have a few catches dropped, but it was Andy Owen who did the real damage, taking 4/13 in a typically uncompromising spell. Combined with his batting efforts and a run out from the point boundary there wasn't much doubt about who was the man of this match.

Or was there? You see, whilst his side was collapsing around him, the shortest of The CB XI's batsmen was playing some glorious strokes and going a long way to keeping his team in contention. After 13 overs they'd reached 129/6 (33 needed off 16 balls) and the batsman in question had 76 runs to his name. We were still winning, but he was playing well enough that we should have been worried about seeing the match slip from our grasp.

As it was, we were more worried about seeing the ball, with the outfielders able to field only with explicit instructions ("ten yards to your left, Dave", etc.) from those closer to the bat. As Dave Williams (0/18) bowled the penultimate over, several of us took time off from playing "spot the ball" to ponder the stupidity of trying to play cricket in such gloom, a point made all too clear when the above-mentioned batsmen got a top edge which flew up into his face. There was no shortage of blood on the pitch and he was clearly concussed, but at least this was enough of a catalyst for the captains to call off the match, even if it was a few overs too late.

Needless to say the post-match mood wasn't great, with everyone both concerned about the injured batsmen (who was fine after a few minutes - where are the smelling salts when you need 'em?) and pissed off that the match had been played at such a slow pace over the preceding few hours. Both teams were guilty of too much faffing about between overs (and even between balls), with unrealistically high-precision field placings, futile searches for lost balls and even a few strange instances where the ball ended up sitting in a vacant space with no-one bothering to pick it up. But even if the game had been played at the appropriate pace, some combination of an early start and reduced overs would probably have been necessary to ensure a more satisfying conclusion to what was otherwise a very good match.