Having never taken on Fen Ditton before, it might have seemed that we were up against the unknown today; but with Remnants regulars Faruk Kara and John Young in their line-up and being led by our own Nick Clarke, it was actually half way to being an internal game.
Fen Ditton batted first and, as always seems to be the case, the traitors lifted their games, Nick flying out of the blocks and Faruk holding the latter part of their innings together. For our part, we started off by lowering our games, serving up an incredible number of really atrocious deliveries, most of which were deservedly smacked to the boundary. And, with the few inadvertantly lofted shots landing between despairing fielders, a monster total was on the cards.
When Nick top-edged Joe White (1/6) into the vacant mid-wicket region it appeared our frustration would continue; only this time the ball went high enough that both Les Collings and Ev Fox could get to it. That was a Good Thing, to be sure, but the implication -- that the two fielders could also get to each other -- was most definitely a Bad Thing. There followed a sickening collision, with groaning sounds filling the air -- and not just from the rest of us worrying that the another chance might have gone begging. Ev, despite a minor cut above the eye, was pretty clearly okay, but Les wasn't moving, and remained stationary until he finally lost patience with the clamour of voices demanding to know if he was ``just winded'' (which, fortunately, was the case).
Far more important than the players' health was the fact that Ev had somehow held the catch, and this first wicket led to plenty more, most of which were taken by Robin Woolley, back to his bamboozling best in a spell of 4/29. A particular highlight was when, having just been smacked for four, Robin was encouraged to ``spin this next one past the bat and bowl him'' which, of course, is precisely what he did -- how's that for following the captain's instructions? And as if that wasn't enough, he also took an excellent catch and made a number of good stops in the outer. Here, though, Bryan Lea was the real star, seeming to field every second ball at one stage, and keeping the batsmen to a single each time. Closer in, John Gull continued his love affair with the point position, while Matt Hughes seemed well on the way to establishing a similarly meaningful relationship with short fine leg, repeatedly keeping the new batsmen on strike as they tried to get what's normally an easy single. We finished our time in the field with Les Collings (1/19) and Daniel Mortlock (1/4) both producing tidy spells to, once again, have Remnants ahead on points at half time.
And, once again, the run chase didn't begin too well, the nadir being 17/3 in the seventh over, leaving us with 108 runs needed off about 80 balls -- how do we always manage to manufacture such challenges? Whatever the reason, Andrew Lea (47 off 43 balls) and Robin Woolley (25 off 25 balls) were up to the task today, compiling the game's best partnership as they scored 64 runs in 8 overs of clean hitting and good running.
We were definitely in the match; however we were never actually winning, and that forlorn search for one more boundary or one more run resulted in the inevitable slogs at straight balls and over-ambitious singles (as evidenced by a total of four run outs). Thus, despite a flurry of last over no balls by an amusingly aggrieved bowler (supported by his loquacious team-mate/commentator with bizarre claims that it was ``nit-picking''), Fen Ditton finished up narrow, if deserved, winners.
And if that result sounds rather familiar, well, it should: it's the fourth time this year we've restricted the opposition to about a run a ball, only to suffer a top-order collapse sufficiently dire to put the target just out of reach, resulting in frustrating losses by 15, 12, 2 and, today, 7 runs. The bowling and fielding has largely been superb -- only twice all season has a team scored more than 130 against us -- and the only real difficulty has been having too many people bowling well to give everyone a full-length spell. But when it comes time to bat we've been missing those explosive starts that seemed a Remnants birth-right up until even two seasons ago; now they're just the stuff of legend, senior club members having the more recent recruits wide-eyed and breathless with tales of being 140/1 after 13 overs or chasing down 138 with 2 overs to spare.