Cricket wouldn't be half the sport it is without the plethora of statistics that go along with it. Other than the watered down American version of the game, what other sport has such enshrined, sacred numbers: 499 or 10/53 or 903/7 or, holiest of all, 99.94 (so famous in Australia that The Australian Broadcasting Corporation chose 9994 as its postbox number in all captial cities)? The flip-side of this is that superstitions develop -- poor old David Sheppard would have ended up a fat bastard if not for all the exercise he got jumping from foot to foot whenever the score reached a multiple of 111.
And now Remnants has started to develop its own patterns in the form of blessed and cursed players. In the first category we have Daniel Mortlock, who's played in every win this season while pissing off to France in order to miss the one loss. The second category, however, has got the numbers: John Young and Andrew Lea played only in the year's lone loss; and poor old Chris McNeill not only turned out for us that day, but also twice substituted for the opposition when they succumbed to the mighty Remnants machine. The conundrum today was that all four were playing: given that the universe hadn't contrived to rain off the match on the grounds of maintaining self-consistency, whose run would come to an end? Statistics would say that Daniel's seven-match run was more likely to be coincidence than the other three's continued refusal to play in winning sides, but when The Globe turned up disorganised and under-manned today the signs were promising for yet another comfortable Remnants triumph.
And when Joe White (1/22) and Daniel Mortlock (3/27) got some early wickets to have The Globe struggling at 48/3, we were definitely on top. After a horrid half-hour of full tosses and missed chances that was no longer the case, but even with the score a much healthier 80/3 after 14 (six-ball) overs the game was no worse than even.
And that was no longer the case after 36 balls of mayhem during which The Globe's Waqar Younis look-alike hit the ball as hard and as cleanly (not that the inside edges didn't go for four too) as anyone before or since. It's probably just as well that nobody recorded how many balls he faced -- suffice to say that he came in with just 74 balls left to be bowled in total and somehow managed to hit an undefeated 70 (with 8 fours and 4 sixes) from the 40-odd deliveries he had access to. At least the ground fielding largely held up under this onslaught, Joe White and Tom Jordan making some great saves on the boundary, and Nick Clarke and Paul Jordan starring closer in; but, really, the end of the 20th over couldn't come too soon.
Even though we were all a bit shell-shocked, we had some serious batting talent in the line-up today, and there was still every chance that The Globe would be short of bowling talent . . . until the above-mentioned batsman ripped off his pads, marked out his run-up, and started firing the ball towards the top of the off stump at 70 mph. With the help of his slightly more erratic partner he finished the job he'd started with his batting, winning the match almost single-handedly in less than an hour. After 12 overs we'd raced to 25/4 and suddenly Geoff was nurturing fears of posting a new lowest score (34 being the current record). We did pass that mark, albeit losing two more wickets in the process, after which The Globe took their foot off the pedal and Rupert Brown (40* off 40 balls, with 6 fours) and Julian Chilvers (12* off 16 balls) had some batting practice as the skies darkened and the first few spots of drizzle began to arrive.
And so The Curse of Andrew, Chris and John survives -- or was it just a nasty coming together of coincidences that saw our bowling, batting and fielding all drop well below the standard that's been set so far this year? I'm betting on the latter -- if it's the former then Geoff's going to have his hands full trying to juggle the team sheets so that we keep this unholy trinity apart in the future.