It's all getting a bit predictable, really: Remnants take to the field first, restrict the opposition to no more than a run a ball, and then engineer a pretty comfortable chase. This sequence has played itself out no fewer than seven times this year, and the key seems to have been having teams full of bowlers of just about every possible variety so that we can always find the right combination for the batsmen and the conditions.
Certainly today the only constant was change as as seven bowlers delivered a total of nine spells, despite the fact that the innings was only 15 (eight-ball) overs long. Paul Jordan (1/9) and Olly Rex (1/6, the wicket coming when his dad, Richard, held onto a spinning chance at gully and thus ensured harmony at the family dinner table) demonstrated that pinging it down could be done with success, but really it was yet another day for the spinners to ply their trade. And while nobody quite matched Alec Armstrong's feats from the previous night, Russell Woolf (1/24) and Adrian Mellish (1/12) starred in a way that their figures don't reveal, both their wickets breaking ominous-looking partnerships just at the right moment.
Moreover, Russ and Adrian could have had two or three wickets to their names but for some dropped chances, and we had a bit of a 'mare in the field today, fluffing some run out opportunities, letting the ball go through to the boundary on several occasions, and generally being a bit flat-footed. Not that it was all bad, of course, with George Speller and Adrian and then Paul Jordan and Chris McNeill combining for run outs, and Richard Rex and Dave Green both chasing tirelessly, and, in the end, we managed to keep the opposition to less than a run a ball for, incredibly, the thirteenth time this year.
And yet a win today was far from certain, for the obvious implication of having a team long on bowling is that it might be somewhat short on batting. Sure enough, going into the game today's eleven had scored just 316 runs at 13.17 for the season, with only three scores of more than 20 to their name all year.
The signs certainly weren't good when one of the two 20+ men was bowled in the first over, although this did bring together the players who'd had the roughest time in the field: George Speller, who'd been struggling with some glandular problem that had resulted in swollen testicles; and Tom Jordan, who'd gotten a bit over-energetic, possibly due to being continuously told he'd be bowling ``next over'', only to have the ball repeatedly snatched away from him as he was marking out his run. All of which may -- or may not -- explain why they batted like men on a mission, putting together a superb 92-run partnership in about ten overs. They started off by slaughtering The Woozlers' seamers, George repeatedly pulling the ball to leg (including one massive heave over cow corner which hit Russ's new car) and Tom playing a succession of delightful cuts, late cuts, dabs, tickles, nurdles and deflections. The Woozlers' fielding wilted even more than ours under this assault -- combined with some very indecisive running, this led to some absurdly funny cricket. The undeniable low-light came when the batsmen were so sure a catch was (finally) going to be held that they stopped running mid-pitch, remaining rooted to the spot even with the ball in plain view on the ground; however they both survived as the fielder was too busy being annoyed at himself to make the easy throw back to the 'keeper. Add in plenty of overthrows and a few wides, and George and Tom were motoring . . . until, as so often is the case in our games, the spinners came on and took the pace off the ball. With clever deflections no longer an option, and a ring of fielders on the single, the required rate had started to climb towards a run a ball, and the mounting pressure eventually told as Tom was bowled for his highest ever Remnants score, 28 off 51 balls.
It's not clear, however, that taking a wicket was a good move from the Woozlers' point of view, as it brought a belligerent Russell Woolf to the crease. Fresh from ``a bad day at work'' he clubbed a couple of boundaries on his way to 10* (from 11 balls) before scampering a leg-bye to leave George with the job of hitting the winning runs. And there was no way George, now on his last legs, was going to do any more actual running, so it was one last hoik over the fielders' heads to finish in style with six balls remaining. George wobbled from the ground to his third round of applause for the day: the first came when he made it to 49; the second was two balls later when he actually completed his half-century; and this final one was to acknowledge a match-winning innings of 70* from 46 balls.
George headed straight off (possibly to hospital) while the rest of us scratched our heads at one of the more bonkers games of cricket we've been involved in.