Remnants vs. The Cavendish Laboratory

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Fitzwilliam College

The Cavendish Laboratory (167/6; 20 six-ball overs)
Remnants (106/4; 20 six-ball overs)
by 61 runs.

For most of the day it seemed we were just one thunderclap away from the sort of downpour that would result in instant cancellation of this evening's match against The Cavendish, and a good thing it would have been too. Instead the clouds vanished at about 4pm, and we were gifted perfect conditions in which to be thrashed for the third match in a row.

Dave Williams and The Cavendish's captain search for Tony Malik.

As we clapped The Cavendish's openers onto the field it was significant that neither was Granta I's Arindam Ghosh, who always seems to score at about two runs a ball against our bowlers and has played a big role in his side's recent dominance over us. It was thus even more significant that, by the end of the second over, we were clapping him onto the ground after we'd been stupid enough to take a wicket. Arindam departed some ten overs later, having flicked his was to 70-odd and taken his team to 130/3 after 14 (six-ball) overs. Bar Joe White (0/15, more than twice as economical as anyone else) all the early bowlers were smashed about pretty much at will, and the fielders were also put under similar pressure: quick singles were somehow taken from shots hit straight to players just ten yards from the bat; and when the batsmen noticed that most of the outfielders were waiting for the ball to come to them they started running twos on anything that made it through the ring. Max Shone and Mike Sneyd both excelled in the outer, and Nick Clarke made some good stops in close, but for the most part it seemed that Fitz was comprised solely of wide open spaces.

Max Shone's knee also suffered at the hands of Arindam's hard hitting.

A 200+ total was in the offing until captain Dave Williams reluctantly brought himself onto bowl, and immediately had Arindam dropped off consecutive deliveries, before Dave Norman (playing because of, yes, yet another no-show) stumped him. For the final third of the innings we actually did pretty well, with Dave W (2/26) and Tony Malik (2/15) mixing up leg-spinners and fast balls to good effect. Tony, of course, had the greater repertoire, adding in offies and even the illegal "gotcha" (characterised by his shouting "gotcha!" before the ball has reached the batsman); Dave, on the other hand, had to be content with inducing the day's comedy moment when he lured the batsman down the track and watched in incredulity as Dave N made the smoothest of takes and went to swipe off the bails . . . only to miss completely. Dave Green decided to help his namesakes out by picking up Mr Norman and depositing him a foot closer to the stumps, which did appear to have the desired effect: the next stumping chance was duly taken. Not that it really mattered by this stage: by the time The Cavendish had passed 150 in the penultimate over we knew we had our work cut out for us.

Dave Norman and Max Shone prepare to scale Everest.

When Max Shone raced to 15 off his first 10 balls it seemed we might make a real go of it, but it was a false dawn. With Max halted in his tracks (finishing up with 16 off 29 balls) and our Granta ringer dismissed cheaply, we found ourselves on just 40/2 at the half-way point with the match already over as a contest. Thus Mike Sneyd (20 off 36 balls), Tony Malik (an uncharacteristically -- if welcomely -- aggressive 31* off 29 balls) and Faruk Kara (an elegant cameo of 20* off 14 balls) all got a bit of time in the middle, which will hopefully stand them -- and thus the team -- in good stead in coming weeks.

Faruk and Hannah Kara.

The real problem at the moment seems to be these first ten overs, though. In previous seasons we seemed to regularly explode out of the blocks, getting to maybe 70 or 80 by the half-way point of the innings. From there we had the choice of either pushing on with the top order or maybe sharing the batting around a bit more if we felt secure. This season we've started off at about half that rate; then whoever's in towards the end of the innings has no choice but to slog from the outset. In the last three matches, for example, our average half-time score has been about 40/2 -- and note that we haven't been losing wickets, implying that a few more risks could be taken, especially with a long batting line-up like tonight.

If only we were chasing 67, rather than 167: Daniel Mortlock and Sally Hales keeping a record of the few runs we'd scored -- photographic evidence of our batting malaise.

That said, it is clearly possible to go too far in this direction, something of which all Australians are suddenly aware, as indiscriminate slogging the nation's best batsmen in last night's Twenty-20 game against England resulted in the following sequence, "kindly" e-mailed by both Paul Henderson and Phil Marshall all the way from Hawai'i: W W . W . 1 W . . . . . W . 4 W . 3 . W. "The most beautiful line I've ever seen on CricInfo", as Paul put it, represents 7 wickets for 8 runs in 20 balls. People had been talking about The Ashes maybe be a contest for once, but now it seems they could easily be as one-sided as ever . . .