Finally we were going to do it. After a year of failing to chase down 120-ish targets, we were going to win in a canter. At 80/1 after 12 overs, we needed just 37 runs from 48 balls with 9 wickets in hand. It doesn't get much better than that: Nick Clarke (23 off 28 balls) had given us a superb start and then Phil Hastings (33 off 35 balls) and John Richer (10* off 11 balls) were cruising. The fielders seemed demoralised and the pavilion was alive with musings along the lines of ``This is how it should be'' and ``May as well take my pads off''.
Up until this point the scoring had been mainly in boundaries, which was revealed to be an excellent policy when a flirtation with the alternatve ``quick single'' mode of operation ended with John prostrate, his hamstring torn. Obviously in a great deal of pain, he retired hurt (thus, as his loving and sympathetic wife pointed out, conveniently ensuring his average went into triple figures), although he seemed reassuringly confident that he'd be right again in a couple of weeks.
The same could not be said for the Remnants innings: the run rate immediately dropped from one a ball to one an over, which was pretty much the wicket rate for the rest of the innings as well. Of the middle order only Daniel Mortlock (10* off 11 balls) made more than 3, and we lost 29/6 in the last 8 overs of our innings, somehow contriving to lose from our apparently impregnable position, eventually falling short by 7 runs.
The CB XI, who'd seemed on the point of giving up not long before, were predictably ecstatic at their ``get out of jail'' victory, but for us it was more a sense of disbelief that we could fail once again to chase such a small total, especially from such a dominant position. That the game was close was some consolation, but even that can just lead to morbid thoughts about uncalled no balls, missed singles, mis-fields and dropped catches, and there were plenty of all four from us this evening.
The game had started with The CB XI's opening batsmen making up for their limited range of strokes by running brilliantly, taking the cheekiest of singles and getting two to the outfielders every time. It wasn't that they were Olympic sprinters (well, one assumes that's the case - who knows who you'll come across in this town?), but that they backed up well, were always looking for a run, and banked on the fact that, unlike England, we weren't going get direct hit after direct hit. That they were eventually separated when Nick Clarke did exactly that was all part of the deal of taking lots of calculated risks, and in the meantime they'd made us look like a bunch of numpties in the field whilst getting their team off to a great start.
The bowlers did start to peg things back a little, with Daniel Mortlock (1/16) and Russell Woolf (1/19) enviably consistent and Chris McNeill (1/27), Les Collings (0/23) and Jack Anderson (1/28) largely superb (although all three suffered from the leg-side disease at for an over or so). All in all it seemed we'd restricted The CB XI's batsmen to the 2006 Remnants standard: an eminetly chaseable target . . .
. . . but you already know that it turned out not to be, so let's just move onto the bar to drown our sorrows, eh?
Or not: the bar was closed as Dave Norman had come off second best in a battle against a mate's lawnmower earlier in the day and, rather than providing us with some wonderfully numbing alcohol, he was in Addenbrooke's being numbed by some altogether more potent cocktails. It actually sounds like the injury is actually rather serious, with a lot of skin taken from the fingers on his right hand and one of the tendons cut as well. Given the amount of (and level at which) he plays his various sports, let's hope that he makes a full and quick recovery, with full use of his damaged hand (and maybe also a cool scar with which to scare small children).