Remnants vs. The Computer Laboratory

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Fitzwilliam College

The Computer Laboratory (130/4 in 20 six-ball overs)
Remnants (124/8 in 20 six-ball overs)
by 6 runs.

Ev Fox

When Dave Green is away, as he is at the moment, the Remnants match reports are usually reduced to purely verbal affairs . . . except if he happens to see our own Ev Fox doing the weather and, in particular, revealing the bizarre fact that it was hotter in Cambridge today than it was in Mumbai.

Having won the toss and forced us out into the baking hot field, any remaining doubts about The Computer Lab's intentions were dispelled when they sent out the ``we mean business'' opening pair of Viljoen Senior (ex-Transvaal rugby player) and Viljoen Junior (current county under-15 cricket captain or similar). For our part we took to the field without anyone having been asked to wicket-keep, and so there was an embarrassing delay as we drew lots, John Gull eventually having to rummage about for gloves and pads with the batsmen and umpires waiting. Not that he was needed initially: the ball wasn't getting anywhere near John as the batsmen started middling everything straight away, pushing the field back as early as the first over.

Then, in the second, Mike Jones (1/11) removed Senior with a big out-swinger that was adjudged LBW by Rob Harvey. Rob, who wasn't in the team today, generously umpired the whole match, and that despite the being subject to various sarcastic LBW appeals from The Computer Lab in the second innings which were, I suspect, a reaction to this first decision. Mike was alone in his appeal and the batsman looked pretty unhappy when he eventually noticed Rob had quietly raised his finger; however the non-striker was the only other player in a position to have any sensible opinion on the subject, and his verdict was that yes, his dad was out. The dual lesson would seem to be that it's always worth an appeal if you reckon you've got your man, but that there's no reason to take the piss when you know it's nowhere near.

Moreover, Mike's delivery and Rob's decision ended up helping, not hindering, the batting side, as it brought Remnants Nemesis Number One, Martyn Livett, to the crease. He happily set about hitting the ball very hard indeed, with lots of big cuts and on-drives, and it was largely due to his efforts that The Computer Lab was a very healthy 75/2 after 10 overs. Rupert Brown (1/31) had nabbed the other when John Gull took a superb diving catch, and Tom Jordan (0/19) was dead unlucky not to have figures more like his usual 2/10, but the bottom line was that we were being ground down, with a total of 150+ more likely than not.

And so it was the perfect time for Les Collings (1/23) and Daniel Mortlock (1/19) to atone for their earlier sieve-like fielding efforts, and they succeeded with some style, repeadedly beating the batsmen and keeping the scoring down to about five an over for the rest of the innings. The Computer Lab's eventual total of 130/4 was maybe even a bit below par, although the ball was swinging a lot and we had a rather bowler-heavy line-up today, so maybe it was all-square at the changeover.

The plan was for our big-hitters to quickly take the game by storm, posting fifty-odd off the first eight overs and then either finishing the game themselves or providing the rest of the team with a reduced target that could be gathered in singles and the like. The reality was rather different, with The Computer Lab's opening bowlers, in particular Viljoen Junior (already capable of sending down 65 mph inswinging yorkers from about the same height as Stephen Harmison), having us in real trouble at 21/3 in the sixth over.

Sam Dolan (12 off 17 balls) and Daniel Mortlock (35 off 34 balls) then mounted a nurdle-based rescue mission, scoring at the required rate almost exclusively in exhausting quick singles -- their minimal tally of three boundaries included one from a massive overthrow and another from a top edge to an excellent Viljoen bouncer. By the end of the eleventh over we were in okay shape at 71/3, and needed 60 off 54 balls; what we got instead were a couple of quick wickets, which left us fighting to get back into the match once again.

This time 'round it was Stas Shabala (13 off 13 balls) and John Young (18 off 17 balls) who successfully employed the same ``run on anything'' tactics; it was great fun to watch, but we were going to have to smack a few boundaries at some stage in order to win the match.

Enter Les Collings (18 off 12 balls), reluctantly promoted from umpire to number seven. After overcoming a few initial uncertainties (e.g., coming down the track, missing, and then having to win a mini-race to get back into his ground before the 'keeper could get to the stumps) he then started to connect big-time, the absolute highlight being a huge pull off Martyn Livett which slammed into the clubhouse roof and was greeted with excited cheering . . . which rapidly became panicked screaming as broken tiles started to rain down on everyone within the sizeable blast radius.

Thus we began the final over needing an unlikely 14 to win; but Les wasn't finished, and a four and a two took the target down to 8 runs off four balls. And that's where our charge finally ended, Viljoen Senior keeping his nerve and conceding just one more run off the over.

Oh well -- nothing for it but to add one more entry to our ``just failed to chase small target'' and ``bloody Martyn Livett'' files and head to the bar. Tonight it was operated by the seemingly tireless Rob Harvey, who kept the nectar flowing 'til way past ten as he switched smoothly from stealth umpire to raconteur, entertaining us all with his tales of a dark past (you don't hear enough about ``drinking and whoring'' these days) and an uncertain future (joining Geoff, Joe et al. on the Fathers And Sons drinkathon tomorrow).