Coming into today's match, Remnants' record for the year was five losses, two wash-outs, and just the one win. A pretty sorry tale indeed and, if one-time club captain Phil Watson (leading one of his motley elevens against us) had anything to say about it, a sixth defeat was going to be added to the ledger today. Geoff Hales and John Gull (amongst others) were present at this final betrayal, and it is from their first-hand recollections that the following has been compiled.
Remnants batted first, with Dave Williams (38) continuing his superb early season form -- despite self-deprecating judgements that he ``doesn't have any more big innings in him'', his year's tally of 151 runs is twice the next best's, and his average of 30.20 is beaten only by a couple of once-dismissed bowlers with a few ``not outs'' to their name. Phil Hastings (19) also did okay, but otherwise it was a pretty sorry effort, with six batsmen being dismissed in single figures. In the end it came down to Russell Woolf, leading the side for the first time, to club 18* at number nine and at least get us past a hundred. For his part, Phil must have been very happy with his team's bowling efforts, especially as all the wickets were taken by ``Watson'' after His Furriness, in an act of rare modesty, demanded that his entire team be listed thus in the scorebook.
The Watsonains' chase proceeded along depressingly predictable lines, Phil (28) and fellow Remnant Steve Tyrrell (43) batting better against their club than they ever do for it and easing the score along to 81/1 in the 14th over. With just 25 needed off some 40 balls and nine wickets still in hand, it seemed the Watsonians' victory would be as easy as the match was dull.
And then finally things livened up a little bit: we got a flurry of wickets, Rupert Brown (1/10 in a welcome return to the side) and Jim Higginson (3/21 in one of his now trademark eventful spells -- six of the runs were in wides, but the rest of the balls ``turned square'' according to witnesses) going through the Watsonians' middle order as fast as John Gull goes through bats. And they weren't the only ones having fun: Dave Williams took yet another good catch and Andy Owen had a field day with the gloves on, completing four stumpings to equal Ev Fox's club record. We kept the pressure on and in the end it came down to the final over.
With just four more runs needed and three wickets in hand the Watsonians were still favourites, especially as they had their two best batsmen, Tony Thornton and Lawrence Huxley, at the crease. For our part, we had captain Russell Woolf (2/14 and straight to the top of the bowling averages) with the ball in his hand, ably assisted by Andy, his self-elected deputy, in setting the field. Russell conceded just a single off the first three balls and then Tony decided to come down the pitch and end things there and then with a huge four over long-on . . . except that he missed, giving Andy the easiest of the aforementioned stumpings. And finally, for the first time all day, we were winning. With the youngest Watsonian now coming to the crease it seemed the boundary was safe . . . until he too came down the track for a big hoik to cow corner . . . only to miss as well. Andy also missed the ball (so no fifth stumping for the day) but, more importantly, he got his pads in line and so there was no danger of any byes being run. Russell duly ended the match with his fifth dot ball of the over and somehow we'd won, pulling victory from the mandibles of defeat like seldom before.
(Well, like once before -- last year's drought-breaking victory against The Computer Lab was actually almost identical, the one signifcant improvement today being that we'd beaten Watson as well, whereas last time he was crowing about his final over heroics.)
So we've come to the end of May ``two and five'' -- decidedly better than the ``one and six'' it might have been 'til that final half hour. Also, John and Andy managed to avoid the indignity of going a whole month without having played in a winning team (either for Remnants or their Saturday league side), leaving just your humble author to enter June with a ledger of seven losses, four wash-outs and precisely zero wins -- to go with precisely zero wickets -- for season 2006.