Report by Daniel Mortlock:
It was a day of beginngs: the first Remnants match of the season; the first Remnants appearance for several players; a new club captain for the first time in several years; and, most importantly, and brand spanking new scorebook for Sal. At the individual level the early signs for 2006 were mostly good, even remarkable; at the team level they were, well, mixed at best.
Our eventual "roll over and die" defeat can, of course, be traced back to the toss. With a few players (and the kit) missing we were desperate to bat first; when Churchill won the toss they understandably chose to bat in the best of what light there was, thus obliging us to head out into the gloom. We started off with the old firm of Daniel Mortlock (0/10) and Les "the old bald one" Collings (0/17), although they didn't really make that much of an impression. Indeed, the main reason that the batsmen didn't score too heavily was some sharp fielding - rather surprising given that it was cold and that most of us hadn't tried to stop a well-hit cover drive for over six months.
Most of the work seemed to be done by John Gull at point, as energetic as ever, although our first two wickets were tied to his only two mistakes. Firstly a dive across the ball induced the batsmen to run on the misfield, only for Stas Shabala's lightning throw to show them why one should never attempt such a thing. Then, with Stas (1/14) now bowing, Paul Jordan found himself waiting for both a spiralling outside edge and a kinetic blur of ginger hair (i.e., John, coming 'round from point screaming "mine, mine!") to reach him. They did this simultaneously, but fortunately John pulled up into a spectacular evasive dive at the last minute and Paul held both his nerve and the ball.
And from there on it was Remnants all the way, with predatory fielding combining with some stunning debut bowling performances. Matt Hughes (1/19) probably thought he'd really made his mark with the club when he followed up a good catch by snaring Churchill's top-scorer in his first over, but he was soon replaced on the front page when Tom Jordan (also 1/19) pitched a perfect leggie first-up and got a wicket with his first ball of the season. And then after Andy Owen (1/5) continued to keep the batsmen in check, another debutante, Jim Higginson, was presented with the daunting task of delivering the final over secure in the knowledge that the batsmen would be going the slog against his slow, flighted leg-spin.
When asked if had any preferences for his field, he quipped that he'd like "two slips and a silly mid-off"; that was met with a roll of the eyes and instructions for the fielders to scatter. A few minutes later, though, Jim had his attacking field: his first and third balls lured the batsmen out of their ground and provided Ev with his first two stumpings of the year; and his fifth ball comprehensively bowled the new batsman. Add in a fumbled run-out chance and a few slogs to cow-corner and it was the most eventful of debut overs indeed, as figures of 3/10 suggest.
Chasing 109 in 14 eight-ball overs was about an even-money task, given the minimal light and low/slow pitch, and the openers were sent out with instructions to stay there 'til the end if possible. It was thus pleasing to see near-suicidal singles off the first two balls, followed by a wild slash to point that was comfortably caught, and then that familar smear of ginger as John Gull headed back to the pavilion. (Still, he'd scored one more run than in either of his first innings from the previous two seasons.)
From there things went from bad to, well, just as bad. None of the batsmen found a way to score quickly, and we bumbled along at about half the required rate, only passing 50 in the tenth over. As their victory became ever more certain, the Churchill players went into party mode (albeit with a little too much sub-continent style "whooping and hollering" every time the pad was hit or the bails removed), whereas the only joy we had came from a few individual cameos.
Perhaps stung by Jim stealing his bowling thunder, Matt Hughes struck a few hearty blows to top-score . . . although the fact that it was with 15 (off 25 balls) is maybe more a reflection of today's batting malaise than anything else. The only others to even get into double figures were Ev Fox (13 off 17 balls) and Paul Jordan (an elegant 14* off 16 balls at the death). But perhaps it was Dave Green who had the most fun, hitting a few nice drives off his own students and, after adding up his score in the book, proudly announcing himself to be equal top-scorer. Given that he's head examiner of Cambridge University's first year physics course, you'd think he'd be able to tote up a few ones and twos . . . but sadly it wasn't to be, and he had to be content with 8 (off 23 balls) in the end. (A quick word to any first years reading: if you don't like your end-of-term mark, demand a recount . . .)