We're on a winning streak: two in a row! And with that sort of momentum in our favour surely we'd be able to dispatch the measly Beehive today? Well maybe, but a quick flick through the archives reveals that The Beehive have been on a streak of their own: they've only lost to us twice this century.
We took to the field first and, like last night, things moved rather slowly to begin with: we certainly didn't look like getting too many wickets; their openers seemed happy to score steadily but no more; and the game had a kind of dull, static feel to it. Every over it seemed things would have to change: the batsmen would go the tonk or one of our bowlers would produce a wicket ball; but nothing really happened until the final over when one of The Beehive's batsmen retired upon reaching fifty and some last-over slogging took their total to within a whisker of the run-a-ball break-even point.
In the meantime Phil Watson (0/14), Robin Woolley (also 0/14 and demonstrably no longer an ``ex-Remnant'' as claimed in an early-season match report) and John Moore (0/19) were all fabulously economical, the latter also performing a series of incredible one-handed stops that almost made it look like he was using The Force to control the ball. Andrew Lea, Rob Harvey and John Gull also dealt admirably with the plethora of balls hit in their direction, while all the bowlers should offer unconditional apologies to Dave Norman who, having been drafted in to wicket-keep after a last-minute withdrawl, found himself repeatedly having to side-step way outside leg stump to collect some of the most wayward Remnants bowling on record.
The result of all this was that, despite our failure to take a wicket during our time in the field, we were just twenty overs of sensible batting away from victory. Seven overs later that was no longer the case -- and no, silly, not because we were now just thirteen overs away from said triumph, but rather because we were in big trouble. The Beehive's opening bowlers had both taken two wickets, our top-order crumbling away to be 13/4 while the required run-rate had crept up to more than eight an over.
Andrew Lea (37* off 58 balls) and Daniel Mortlock (62 off 45 balls) then set about a most unlikely rescue mission. They had no choice but to knuckle down initially, carefully seeing off the openers, but then were able to take a few risks, exhausting themselves with ambitious running, and getting us back into the match with a 98-run partnership. We might even have been ahead at the end of the 17th over, with 25 runs needed off 18 balls, although we always seemed just a boundary short of comfort. And then, when Daniel's well-hit cut was brilliantly caught by the airborne cover fielder, Dave Norman found himself walking to the crease with the straightforward task of hitting a six off the final ball to tie the match.
The bowler centred himself, adjusted his fingers to have precisely the right angle over the seam, and sent down an excellent slower ball; but Dave had come down the track and, despite almost yorking himself, connected big-time. With no point going running, the batsmen both stood and watched as the ball flew flat and low towards the boundary fielder . . . who, bizarrely, decided to jump over the ball as it landed somewhere near where he had been standing. Was it a six or a four? Another boundary fielder answered by holding his hands about six inches apart in a gesture of taunting ambiguity -- was it that far short or that far over? Finally his smile provided the answer: The Beehive had won a thriller by two runs, and all because Dave had misjudged the distance to his own boundary line.
All pretty frustrating but, again like last night, a goodly representation of both teams remained behind to soak up the warm evening air while trying to catch the eye of the cute tennis-players who, no doubt salivating over us in much the same manner as we over them, were presumably too intimidated by our raw sex-appeal to make an approach. (Or maybe it was just the beer froth that had taken up residence in a certain well-known beard that was holding them back.)