It was a return to familiar territory today: Dave Norman was back from his holidays, so we were home at Fitzwilliam again; and we were up against UCLES for the second time this season. First time around they'd put out a sub-standard side and we'd romped home by the enormous margin of 129 runs (i.e., victory by more than a run a ball) -- would today be any different?
Not really, as it happened.
Dave Williams won the toss and elected to bat first, deciding out of the blue that he wanted us to score 200+. This might have seemed wildly over-optimistic, but then Nick Clarke (62 off just 36 balls) and Chris Martin (31 off 25 balls) combined for a brutal opening stand of 66 runs in just 7.1 overs. Phil Watson (36 off 32 balls) came in and continued the good work, he and Nick taking the score onto 140 afer 13 overs, comfortably over Dave's requested pace. At the other end of the pitch the UCLES bowlers were also making a healthy contribution to our total -- they seemed to have developed collective case of the ``yips'', serving up a ridiculous number of head-high full tosses and multiply-bouncing balls.
But somehow we contrived to have a batting collapse, losing 4 wickets for 20-odd runs, and most of our momentum with it. Andy Owen (14* off 10 balls, his seventh consecutive not out innings for the club) at least kept the scoreboard ticking over, but in the end it was hard not to be disappointed with our huge total of 179/5 simply because it should have been even higher.
Not that any of us thought today's UCLES team would threaten our target, an opinion that was only strengthened when Guy Wiedermann (2/14 on Remnants debut) took a wicket with the fourth ball of the innings and Russell Woolf (1/18) caused the subsequent batsmen even greater difficulties at the other end. The required run rate soon passed 10 an over and the second half of the UCLES innings was thus rendered rather meaningless, yet somehow both sides kept playing with sufficient intensity that the game didn't get boring.
Joe White (1/13) produced another one of his trademark pacey spells, and Daniel Mortlock (2/30) benefitted from the inconceivably fast reactions of Andy Owen, who managed to catch a full-blooded cut at silly mid off. Whilst the rest of the team's catching left a little to be desired, we did manage some good ground fielding, completing two excellent run outs when the batsmen unsuccessfully took on our outfielders' arms. We just failed to dismiss the opposition, but it would be churlish to grumble about a 68 run victory, a decent reward for our afternoon's efforts.