Remnants vs. A Charities XI

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (111/4 in 14 eight-ball overs)
defeated
A Charities XI (97/7 in 14 eight-ball overs)
by 14 runs.

Waking up this morning it seemed everything was nicely set up for one final wash-out . . . but somehow the weather held and instead we got one last evening game for season 2005, even if starting at 5:30pm wasn't sufficient to play out 14 eight-ball overs before the darkness fell. Our opposition was A Charities XI, with members drawn from several clubs (mainly Romsey Town) that had played in the six-a-side tournament a few months back; and, despite the inclusion of several Remnants (Andy Owen, of course, along with Phil Watson, Tom and Paul Jordan, Les Collings, Joe White and, most ominously, Dave Norman), it was definitely not an internal game -- the aim was definitely one final win for the season.

Batting first that final victory seemed a long way off when our two most destructive batsmen, John Gull and Nick Clarke, were back in the pavilion before the end of the second over. Dave Williams (52*, his second undefeated half-century of the last fortnight) and Andrew Lea (26) then set about posting a decent total; and, having taken the score to ninety-odd with three or four overs to go, it seemed they'd succeeded. Alas there followed a dismal decceleration (admittedly brought about partly due to some dubious double-bouncing leg-side deliveries that were all but impossible to hit), and we finished up on 111/4, an appropriately lame total to end a season of such embarassements.

How we were going to defend this total was decidedly unclear -- neither containment nor attack seemed particularly plausible strategies. Thus it was fortuitous that Bryan Lea (1/17) and Mike Jones (1/9) started off by being both economical and penetrating, the key early moment being the dismissal of traitor Watson courtesy of an excellent catch by Ollie Clarke.

The field

Mike Jones prepares to get the innings underway while Nick Clarke and John Gull crowd in close to seek revenge for their earlier cheap dismissals.

We then entered a bizarre phase of the game where our attack was blunted by two players with a combined age of 23: Tom Jordan and Michael Owen. Whilst we were able to prevent them scoring many runs (hence Nick Clarke's bizarre figures of 2 overs, 2 maidens, 0/0), neither could we dismiss them, even with the whole team crowded around the bat. The score edged from 33/2 after 5 overs to 36/3 after 9 -- it was almost as if our little game of village cricket had become frozen in time.

The field

In a rare show of sympathy for the opposition we attempt to intimidate a eleven-year-old by crowding 'round the bat.

The main result of all this was that we had the upper hand for the first time in the match: the philanthropists now needed 76 runs off just 40 balls. Ordinarily that would have been game over, but it was now that the big guns appeared, and Joe White, Andy Owen and (surprise surprise) Dave Norman proceeded to smack 45 runs off the next four overs.

And so the last over of the season began with an implausible 31 needed off eight balls. Surely even Dave couldn't manage that, especially now it was so dark we could barely see the ball . . . except that also held true for the fielders, and two booming Norman drives had been dropped the previous over for that very reason. Daniel was now in charge on the field (Dave still being ``knackered'' after his batting efforts) and had to decide who'd be bowling the final over of the season. The only problem was that no-one was keen and so he got the muggins job himself, being faced with the choice of either nastily bowling at full pace in the dark or achieving a lasting infamy for throwing away the match from such a position.

Dave promptly smashed 3 fours and a two from the next four balls: 31 needed off 8 had become 17 off 4 and the impossible nightmare seemed to be happening. Dave smacked the fifth ball just as hard as the first four . . . but this one went more up than out, eventually arcing down towards mid-on . . . or where mid-on would be if all the fielders weren't back on the boundary . . . so the bowler had to run back peering up into the gloom and, through a combination of The Force and sheer will, wrapped his fingers 'round the ball.

Phew.

After three more deliveries -- to the slightly less daunting figure of Andy's nine-year-old daughter Catherine (although it was she, and not Dave, who induced a wide) -- we'd made it, winning a bizarre match by 14 runs.

The real cause for pride wasn't our on-field victory, but rather the fact that we had a cheque for GBP 700 to present to Tina Dawson, patient support coordinator for The Lewin Stroke Unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Most of the money had been raised at the six-a-side tournament at the end of May, although it was supplemented with half the match fees from today's game. So next time you go home fretting about a dropped catch or having played across a straight one, think instead of the fact that three more stroke victims have wheelchairs as a result of your generosity.

The team.

The two teams post match. From left (since we were unable to form identifiable rows): John Gull, Andrew Lea, Phil Watson, Nick Clarke, Les Collings, Paul Dawson, Bryan Lea, Ollie Clarke, John Young, John Richer, Paul Jordan, Robin Woolley, Dave Williams, Tom Jordan, Joe White, Michael Owen, Mike Jones, Andy Owen, Catherine Owen, Geoff Hales, Daniel Mortlock, Rob Harvey, Rog Shelley and Sally Hales.

By this stage night had fallen and it was time to play through all the season's fabulous moments in the Fitz bar and then, of course, The Tandoori Palace. We'd made the same pilgrimage last week, partly motivated by the pessimistic prediction that tonight would be a wash-out; but this time it surely was the real end-of-season curry?

Joe White, John Gull and Daniel Mortlock

Joe White, John Gull and Daniel Mortlock have some well-deserved bhunas and naans after combining for 700 runs and 40 wickets during the season.