A study in contrasts. At 6pm this evening eleven members of Wolfson College's cricket team, immaculately turned out in starched whites and identical maroon caps, were arranged in a perfectly ordered arc, practicing their slips catching while they waited for us to provide them with two batsmen and two umpires. At that same instant, those few Remnants actually at the ground were looking for keys to the kit box or scrabbling in the dirt for stones to use as counters; the rest of the eleven were still ``on their way'' or, in one case, not even that.
Not that things improved when we did provide said batsmen and officials: Mike Sneyd was welcomed to the middle by a decidedly nippy ``sandshoe crusher'' delivered from a height of about ten feet (and, arguably, a distinct kinking of the elbow). It seemed we'd be enduring ``trial by pace'' for the second night in succession, and so it turned out to be: after the Wolfson openers' eight (six-ball) overs we were just 38/2. The lack of both runs and wickets came about as our top order found themselves in the awkward situation where the bowling wasn't so devestating as to get through their defensive strokes, but was good enough to prevent them playing conventional scoring shots. And it was in this context that Bryan Lea (normally one of our opening bowlers, not batsmen) made 21 off just 27 balls -- a brilliant effort, and the explanation for which is rather important. Namely, Bryan's success in adversity was a victory for pragmatism over form, for content over style. It appeared that, after seeing enough 70 mph deliveries to convince himself that he wasn't going to be playing any glorious on drives or cuts off these bowlers, he resorted to guerilla tactics, stepping away from the stumps and opening the face. It wasn't pretty, and it was risky, but with only twenty overs to play with it doesn't matter: it could be argued that a sequence of ten or more consecutive dot balls is, in general, worse than losing a wicket. There was a little touch of irony when, having seen off the first string attack, Bryan almost immediately let a dibbly-dobbly through the gate; nonetheless he received a deserved round of applause upon returning to the pavilion.
After this fairly normal service was resumed, with Faruk Kara (having accelerated after also struggling against the openers), Dave Williams and Andrew Lea knocking off quick twenties and everyone else scampering a few singles before being run out by Andrew. Okay, that's a bit unfair -- it was all just part of the effort to score runs anyoldhow -- but it did always seem to be Andrew who was still batting when the dust had settled, and in one case the victim was so far short of his ground that the bowler, having knocked the bails off prematurely, had time to extract a stump and hold the ball to it, something that nobody could remember ever having happened in three decades of Remnants cricket.
The unluckiest Remnant of all, though, was Dave Green. He'd come by to say hello and take the pictures which adorn this very report, but had then rushed off to change when it became apparent we had only ten men. He made it back to the ground just as we lost our ninth wicket and the fielders were beginning to head for the pavilion; then, after some frantic waving and mutual padding-up, Dave joined them out in the middle, the idea being to stick around while Andy Owen smacked twenty-odd runs off the final over. Instead there was a leg-bye, and suddenly Dr Green was on strike; a few seconds after that the players were leaving the ground again, Dave's heroic efforts having been largely in vain. Moreover, he was suddenly inserted at the bottom of the batting averages with ``0.00'' next to his name -- as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
Still, we had 110 on the board and, having gone within two wickets of defending 88 last night, we must have had some chance of at least making Wolfson sweat a little. Bryan Lea (0/25) and Robin Woolley (0/19) certainly bowled fantastically, being dead unlucky to go wicketless, and Les Collings (2/32) did eventually make a breakthrough, but it wasn't until after one of the Wolfson openers had retired (upon reaching his half-century) and the boundaries kept coming thick and fast. And that was about it: Wolfson thus raced to their target without any real drama, and had zoomed off in their minibus before we really knew what had happened.