Convening at the sun-drenched Fitzwilliam playing fields, the Remnants mood was pretty relaxed -- we were up against Girton today, a team we'd lost to only once since 2002.
Batting first, it was a bit hard to know whether we were doing well or not. On the one hand the Girton bowlers were somewhat erratic, all contributing to an eventual 25 runs in wides and no-balls; on the other hand, spare a thought for openers Dave Williams (16 off 19 balls) and Faruk Kara (11 off 24 balls), who were both clean-bowled by fast, swinging yorkers. After a bit of a mid-innings lull, John Gull (38* off 40 balls -- a heroic innings if his various pained vocalizations were anything to go by) and Joe White (a measured 23* off 26 balls) accelerated nicely, and took us to 134/3, the season's first healthy total.
The one problem, though, was time: through a combination of Girton's slow field-setting and long run-ups (and the three extra overs of wides), we didn't head out into the field until about a quarter to eight. This meant we had to rush our defense, and were forced to pre-choose our bowling order from fastest to slowest. And whilst it's hard for the batsmen to see the ball in the darkness, it's even harder for the fielders in the outer who, by match's end, were clearly using sonar more than their eyes. Maybe batting first wasn't such a bright idea after all.
Nonetheless, we started off okay, with Paul Jordan (0/8) and Joe White (0/9) both on the spot, and the former most unlucky not to have at least one wicket when, in a piece of inspirational leadership, the captain contrived to drop the less-imposing Girton opener twice in one over. For a while it looked like a bit of Alastair Campbell spin might have been able to justify the ``decision'' on the grounds that said batsman was having trouble scoring; any such quick press-releases would have backfired, however, once he got his eye in and clubbed a few hearty boundaries on his way to 44.
As the runs mounted, we needed one of those willful, multi-wicket spells that the likes of Tony Malik and Andy Owen have produced in the past. And we almost got it: Tom Jordan, whilst not yet the most imposing figure on the pitch (well, he's only thirteen), once again landed some perfect leggies, and took 2/16 off his two overs. The first breakthrough was courtesy of a theatrical diving catch in the outer by Daniel Mortlock (not that it in any way made up for the two earlier fumbles when it mattered). Then Matt Hughes, having misjudged a huge, spiralling, spinning skier the previous delivery, was presented with a leading edge, which he clung onto as if his Remnants career depended on it.
Ironically, this last wicket probably sealed our fate, as it was one of Girton's juniors who we, uncharitably, had been crowding in order to keep the remaining opener off the strike. This had been working pretty well, and with three overs to go the required rate had climbed to more than a run a ball for the first time since the start of the innings. As it was the new batsmen was able to rotate the strike comfortably, and Girton began the final eight-ball over needing just 5 runs to win.
In this sort of situation there's only one man to turn to: ex-Girton stalwart Phil Watson, still living off the memory of succeeding against even longer odds in our drought-breaking victory against The Computer Lab last year. His lobs did indeed induce a few wild swishes . . . but after his famed ``faster ball'' became the last of the match's thirty-odd wides the suriving Girton opener hit a big boundary to take himself to a deserved 71* and his team to what was, in the end, a depressingly comfortable victory.