In a break with tradition today's bank holiday Monday was glorious, the perfect day for some of Cambridge's best -- well, keenest -- cricketers to descend on Fitzwilliam College's playing grounds for a charity six-a-side tournament. The charity in question is the Rosie Maternity Hospital's Premrose Neo-Natal Unit, also the recipent of all monies generated by Russell Woolf's sponsored weight-loss. Russell, in combination with Andy and Denise Owen and Phil Watson, organised today's extravaganza, co-opting teams from The Beehive, Cambridge Granta, Girton, Remnants, Romsey Town, Shape Data and The St Radegund, as well as setting up a seemingly infinite raffle. Dave Norman gave us use of the ground for free, and we were also provided with a superb day-long BBQ to feed the players and spectators. It may all sound a bit low-key, but any such thoughts were quickly dispelled by a fly-past of three F-15s, after which it was time for some cricket . . .
. . . or at least some approximation thereof. It has often been called a batsman's game, and with just six fielders (including bowler and 'keeper), 4 runs for wides and no-balls, 6 runs for fours, and 10 runs for sixes, bowling was going to be even more thankless than usual. The catch was that, with the exception of the wicket keeper, each team member had to bowl one over (as well as chasing countless big hits around the empty outfield).
The par score for the five over innings seemed to be about 70, and some 1700 runs were scored in twelve matches, with just 20-odd wickets falling all day. The two best individual performances were Nick Clarke scoring 89* for Remnants against Shape Data and, rather appropriately, Russell Woolf's double wicket maiden for Romsey against The Beehive. Indeed, the latter was judged the day's official Champagne Moment, narrowly edging out a spectacular run out by one of Shape Data's bowlers and several good outfield catches.
The tournament itself was comprised of two round-robin leagues, from which the top two teams progressed through to the semi-finals. In Group A Remnants and Romsey Town survived at the expense of Girton and Shape Data; in Group B The Beehive and Granta left The St Radegund in their wake. In the first semi-final Granta easily overhauled Remnants' total; in the second The Beehive saw off Romsey, denying them the six they needed off the final ball.
Granta and The Beehive were pretty clearly the best teams, and they produced a superb final, one of the few games that actually managed to fit a bit off ebb and flow into its sixty deliveries. The Beehive's total of 71 didn't look to be sufficient initially, but a after they kept Granta to 16/1 off the first two overs 56 were needed from the last 18 balls. In the end 9 runs were needed from the day's final delivery -- once again The Beehive had kept their nerve, running out deserved and popular winners.
There was a brief presentation ceremony, followed by the drawing of the raffle prizes. Embarrasingly, the big prize of a cricket bat autographed by the 197? New Zealand touring team was won by Andy Owen (a full enquiry is likely to be mounted), after which a succession of prizes donated by local businesses were handed out to the lucky holders of ``peach'' or orange tickets. More importantly, the raffle and BBQ, combined with the money Russell himself had raised, topped the one thousand pound mark, a fantastic effort by all concerned. Who knows, this might even become an annual event, although it'll probably rain next time 'round . . .