Having exacted our revenge on The Woozlers, The CB XI and The Beehive in the last few weeks, the time was ripe to avenge our early season defeat at the hands of The Cavendish Laboratory. That they had their photograph taken in front of the inter-departmental league trophy before the match was an ominous sign for us, but far more critical was that Arindam Ghosh (whose effortless six-hitting has defeated Remnants almost single-handedly more than once in the last few years) was present only as an umpire today.
We batted first and John Gull promptly smacked his second ball for four and then played a superb cut . . . and was well caught at point. The point is not that this was foolish cricket, but that it didn't matter (other than to John) as his replacement, Julius Rix, took up where John had left off. He clubbed 12 off 10 balls and was looking in great shape . . . but was then bowled playing across the line. And the point is it still didn't matter (other than to Julius): Dave Williams came in and started punishing loose balls with the same verve as the two men he'd replaced. This merry-go-round of runs and wickets couldn't have gone on indefinitely, but with our strong batting line-up it was almost a sure thing that a couple of batsman would eventually get themselves in and put on a big partnership.
And that's just what captain Dave and his deputy Daniel Mortlock did, smashing 99 runs from just 69 balls, the most lucrative partnership of the season so far (if not necessarily the best, The Cavendish attack being somewhat variable in nature). Daniel eventually got bowled for 55 (off 41 balls), but Dave just kept going, finishing up with 67 not out (off 49 balls).
After Ev Fox replaced Daniel the scoring rate even increased, 49 runs coming from the last four (eight-ball) overs of the innings, and that despite Ev's amusingly easy-going contribution of 4* from 11 balls. Not that it mattered in the least -- we finished up with 174/3 off 15 eventful eight-ball overs, our best total of the season by some margin.
You might think that this was ``game over'' and that we'd batted The Cavendish out of the match, especially given Dr Ghosh's status as umpire. The only problem was that Arindam had been promoted to the eleven when one of their bowlers had strained his side in the second over, and now that he was down to bat (technically naughty, I know) we were probably only marginal favourites to win.
First things first, though: as has become our habit we opened with Faruk Kara's off-spin and, as has become his habit, he tore through the opposition top order. Today he took two wickets in his first over before settling down to finish with 3/17, the second best figures for the day. Yes, that's right, second best: Faruk was trumped by his replacement from the northern end, Russell Woolf, coming in off an epic twenty step run-up that may or may not have facillitated the sort of gradual acceleration one usually associates with those big Russian military transport planes that need five miles of tarmac to take off even in a head-wind. Whilst Arindam took a liking to his slow-medium stuff, the rest of The Cavendish line-up had no idea, spooning catches all over the place as Russ ended up with 4/22.
Of course it's one thing to induce the batsmen to hit the ball in the air; it's another to have these aerial strokes turn into catches, and for once we caught (and stumped) brilliantly. John Young held onto a full-blooded drive at mid-on (his trademark); Phil Watson (who also took 2/17 with his, er, Watsonseque lobs) kept his eyes on one of those nasty spinning balls at backward point; Sam Dolan stayed firm when faced with a proper skyer of the sort which gives one time to think about dropping it; and Daniel Mortlock finished things off with a neat one-handed grab at silly point. Add in Ev's two stumpings (one of which came about when a French visitor thought he'd survived his first ever delivery, only to wander out of his ground for a second . . .) and it was almost a fantasy team performance.
Almost. As the more astute of you may have noticed, the bowlers have accounted for nine wickets, not ten (rather like the English bowlers on the final day of the third Ashes Test -- sorry, couldn't resist), and no prizes for guessing the missing scalp. Despite coming in down the order, Arindam flicked a few massive sixes and seemed to be in the sort of mood that could see him score at the two runs per ball his team needed to overhaul our total. He certainly didn't seem to be having any trouble with the bowling, in which case it was going to have to be a run out or a technicality; in the end we got both.
It was clear that Arindam wanted to pinch and then keep the strike as much as possible, so quick singles were the order of the day with his partner on strike and then ambitious twos on the rare occasions he couldn't clear the boundary. We, of course, tried to stop the quick singles in particular, so imagine the captain's surprise when his namesake, Dave Green, ran across his bows and kicked the ball into sufficient space to permit the strike rotation we'd been trying so hard to prevent. It was a curious tactic at the very least, but it seemed Dave had surmised that we were most likely to get a run out on an overly-ambitious second run. And that's exactly what happened on the very next ball: it would have been an easy two if the outfielder had just waited for the ball to come to him (as most of us had been doing); in this case, however, the ball headed in the direction of the John ``Energizer bunny'' Gull, who ran in some twenty yards from the boundary and hurled the ball back to the 'keeper. And even after Ev had taken his first swipe at the stumps and missed, there was still time to break the wicket on the second attempt, stranding Arindam and his partner mid-pitch. A closer look revealed the second piece of serendipitous genius in the over: if Ev had removed the bails first time Arindam's partner would have been out; but in the critical extra second or two the batsmen had crossed, and it was now Dr Ghosh who was a few feet closer to the shattered wicket. He did, bless him, try and herd his partner from the pitch whilst claiming ``we didn't cross''; fortunately Geoff was waching goings on very carefully from square leg and wasn't going to stand for any of that sort of nonsense. Thus Arindam's charge came to an end, as did his team's a few balls later.
Needless to say the post-match drinks were even sweeter than usual, partly due to the obvious pleasure that can be taken in playing so well, and partly 'cos the beers were being supplied by the jug-full (although I think there should have been four, not just two, as three wickets is every bit as good as a half-century in these short games). By the time the last of us had had our fill of back-slapping it was pitch black and the time was ripe for horrendously-coloured 2-4-1 cocktails at The Vaults on Trinity Street . . .