Rain for most of Monday surely meant that our fixture against FAS would be washed out for the fourth time in five years; and yet pulling the curtains wide this morning revealed the most glorious of English summer's days, and it stayed hot and sunny well past the end of play this evening. Which was sort of a pity, as we got a cricketing lesson from a team that contained four Remnants (Joe, Faruk, Rob and Daniel, not to mention FAS supremo, Baz Dare) who, between them, took 4/54, grabbed two catches and made 20 runs for once dismissed.
Batting first for a change, we started off well, with Dave Williams (32 off 33 balls) dealing with a rather pumped up Joe White, and seeing to it that we were scoring at about 8 an over. But then FAS brought on their all-spin attack and the runs dried up, the big leg-side shots that are normally so useful in these games failing to connect most of the time. Andy Owen (19 off 40 balls) looked decidedly out of sorts, even trying a "double Pietersen" (i.e., taking strike left-handed and then switching back to right-handed while the ball was in flight), and in the end we only passed three figures thanks to the efforts of the late-arriving George Speller (29* off 18 balls, all but one of which he scored off). Not that he should have survived the final over, providing two of the three consecutive chances which went to ground as, seemingly, Faruk attempted to make amends for taking 2/25 against his own club.
The sequence of drops extended to four when we gave a life to one of FAS openers off the first ball of their innings; the reprieved batsmen, Pip Dickinson, made the most of this, carving his way to 65 off 39 balls in what was easily the performance of the match. Indeed, until his cavalier batting, we could have imagined that having four moles in the FAS batting line-up might have been sufficient for our club's poor chasing to have infected the opposition; but at 63/1 after 10 overs the game was all but lost, and we were facing our heaviest defeat of the year.
When, a few overs later, the score was 86/6, it was very much "game on", and we suddenly had a chance of a miracle win. This turn-around was largely due to the combined efforts of Tom Jordan (2/16) and Mike Jones (2/14, complete with self-directed pep-talks), who between them now have 19 wickets at 9.42 for the year, and troubled all the batsmen today. The other key factor was that we finally started holding our catches, nabbing five in the end. Ev Fox took two standing up to the spinners; Les Collings snaffled a nice edge at gully; Andy Owen held firm on the boundary line; and Dave Williams took his fifth for the year.
The irony was that it was now an all-Remnants affair, Daniel Mortlock and Joe White being faced with the task of completing the defeat of their own club. And, despite the sarcastic clapping that greeted their arrival in the middle (and George Speller's ultra-economical spell of 1/3), they managed to do just that, scampering the winning run with ten balls to spare.
Having thus given FAS the ideal warm-up for their Silver Jubilee Tour next week, it was time for beer and sandwiches, and gentle thoughts of absolutely stuffing The St Radegund tomorrow night.