Cambridge Granta vs. Remnants

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Clare College

Remnants (137/3 in 20 six-ball overs)
lost to
Cambridge Granta (138/6 in 20 six-ball overs)
by 4 wickets.

Let me tell you about my day.

It began with a sweaty train-ride to London, included a few stressed phonecalls to find last-minute replacements for the inevitable drop-outs, and then began to reveal its true nature when I had to wait an unprecedented fifteen minutes for a tube train. The result was a frenzied run through the madness of Kings Cross at the start of the evening peak, dodging lost-looking visitors, ignoring ticket-inspectors and not even pausing to roll my eyes in pity at the muppets taking photos of the luggage trolley that's apparently half-way into platform 9-and-3/4. Anyway, I made it, getting onto the 16:15 to Cambridge with a minute to spare, so it was all going to be okay.

And then there were a few confused announcements that resolved themselves into the fact that "due to a fatality at Hitchin, no trains will be leaving Kings Cross until further notice" Now, clearly being late for a mid-week cricket match is as nothing compared to being (or knowing someone who has been) squashed by a train, but neither was suggesting people get a "stopping all stations" trundle-buggy from distant Liverpool Street going to help anyone either, least of all me.

After waiting for half an hour, I wandered off to get a drink, at which point there came a second announcement: services would re-start in the next few minutes, and passengers should re-board their trains. So I did, and watched, bemused at best, as a service to "Ely via Cambridge" slid out of the next platform. The bastards must have sent out the later train first! Still, if this one left pronto, I'd be okay. And, reassuringly, the pre-departure announcement began almost immediately; less reassuringly, it calmly stated a destination list that included such dumps as Stevenage and Peterborough, making no mention of lovely Cambridge. I'd just about gathered my things as the warning beeps sounded, and then had to jump through the sliding doors like Indiana Jones escaping some death-trap temple, eliciting gasps of admiration from a couple of grannies standing nearby.

After explaining to a station attendant that it would have been very nice to have received a bit more warning about the impromptu route change, I was suddenly at a bit of a loss about what to do. There were no children to kick, no-one to swear at, and nothing I could throw or smash. So, instead, it was just a case of hanging around for the next Cambridge train which, mercifully, proceeded smoothly all the way, pulling in at about 6:15pm.

Which brings us -- well, me, at least -- to the game you were presumably hoping to find out about when you started reading this match report. I arrived at the ground to find Ev Fox (21 off 30 balls) and Andrew Lea (19 off 38 balls) struggling against a pretty lively Granta attack -- at 31/0 after 8 overs we needed to double our scoring rate even to get 120. As Granta shared their bowling around we did start to accelerate, albeit at the cost of losing a few wickets to an engaging character by the name of Sharp who made most of our batsmen look pretty silly as they swatted at his Watson-speed lobs.

Fortunately the rest of the bowlers were a bit pacier, and apparently very much to the liking of both Phil Hastings (40* off 28 balls) and John Gull (38* off 21 balls). They came together in the twelveth over with the score a still dubious 58/3, and put on an excellent unbroken partnership of 79 runs off just 51 balls. Their clean-hitting was superb as they pulled, cut and drove with abandon, although they missed a few second runs, most notably off the final ball of the innings when there was nothing to lose by testing the fielder's arm. Still, Phil and John had taken us to 137/3, and we thus had a proper total to defend.

Not that it looked very imposing when two of the better Granta batsmen came out and started hitting boundaries with depressing regularity. Bryan Lea and Colin Anderson (both 1/27) did well to nab one opener each, and Andy Owen (0/31) and Daniel Mortlock (0/19) both went close to getting another breakthrough with some adventurous bowling, but the bottom line was Granta were doing it easy. At 108/2 after 14 overs they needed just 30 runs off 36 balls with plenty-o-wickets in hand and, to put it simply, had batted well enough to deserve what appeared likely to be the most uneventful of wins.

Thus when Chris McNeill (2/17) took an excellent return catch it presumably represented no more than a personal highlight; when John Moore then made a fantastic diving save (despite having pulled a muscle in his leg earlier on) and then fired in a flat, accurate throw to effect a brilliant run out there was still a sense that it was too late to make any difference; but then, two overs later, when Andy Owen took his second excellent outfield catch, it really was "game on" Suddenly we were the ones wanting the scoreboard updated, finessing the fielding positions, and generally acting like some gastalt predator.

After a few more good fielding efforts (particularly by Colin Anderson at backward square and Phil Hastings sweeping), Mike Jones (1/9) stepped up to bowl the final over with Granta still needing three to win. After John Moore made a few more superb stops and then Ev Fox completed one of his trademark lightning stumpings, it had somehow come down to the final ball: if we could prevent a run then we'd have tied the match. The ball was down leg-side, and very close to a wide; it wasn't called, but neither could Ev gather it clearnly; Andrew Lea came rushing in to collect it, but the non-striker, who was already about five yards down the track as the ball was bowled, was already in, and Granta had won a suprise thriller on the final ball.