Everything about today's return match against The Computer Laboratory was in stark contrast to our away fixture against them during the monsoon month of June. Back then we slipped around on a half-cut pitch as the drizzle came and went; today we ran around in glorious mid-summer sunshine that continued on long enough that we might have been able to play a 30-over game. Last time 'round we had just nine Remnants on the field; today all the named eleven turned up in good time and promptly gelled into a deadly gestalt who never looked like being anything other than victors.
The key was the energy and attitude in the field which, in turn, seemed to flow from the bowlers who, in turn again, were made to look almost dangerous by an uncharacteristically bouncy Fitzwilliam wicket. Daniel Mortlock (1/7), George Speller (a criminally unlucky 0/20) and Paul Jordan (1/20, the ``1'' coming when he nonchalantly bent down to take a neat return catch from his first ball) all had the batsmen jumping about, but even they took as many wickets in run outs. In the first a silly call left Daniel with the simple task of lobbing the ball to Paul at the non-striker's stumps (although there was always the temptation to fuck it up by going for the direct hit); in the second Paul, possibly having watched the Brazilians on the football pitch, sold the batsmen a superb dummy by letting the ball go between his legs, safe in the knowledge that George would tear 'round the boundary, make a smooth pick-up, and hurl the ball to bowler Tom Jordan in plenty of time for him to whip off the bails. At least that's how everyone bar the umpire saw it, and so we were left a bit confused but with no choice but to get ready for the next ball . . . until, in a move of unprecedented integrity, the batsman (Luke Perera, who'd filled in for us in the previous match between the two teams) took matters into his own hands and walked.
Having attained the ascendancy with our fastest bowlers, the job was finished by the medium pacers. Chris McNeill bowled an ultra-economical spell of 0/3 while, at the other end, prodigal son Mike Jones, playing his first game of cricket for the year, returned home in spectacular style. A first-ball wicket was a good start from someone who was worried about just getting the ball on the pitch; eventual figures of 4/17 (the season's best, so far) were the stuff of dreams. Two of the wickets were courtesy of good catches by Rob Harvey, who was once again superb behind the stumps (especially in making good ground to some wild leg-side efforts), while all the bowlers owe a debt of gratitude to the likes of Tom Jordan and George Speller (who didn't let a single boundary through on the ultra-short pavilion side) and Daves Green and Williams (who tirelessly covered the huge open spaces on the other side of the ground).
The result of all this was that we were faced with the sort of target (97) that even The Computer Lab struggle to defend against us. Not that they didn't give it a red hot go, their cagey opening bowlers restricting Dave Williams (25 off 26 balls) and Chris McNeill (15 off 38 balls) to just 32/1 off 9 (six-ball) overs.
Although maybe that one wicket was a mistake: where Dave and Chris had struggled on the two-paced wicket, Harry Picton-Turbervill looked right at home from the outset. Well, he did play out four dot balls with a certain amount of suspicion, but then it was ``wham, bam, thank-you ma'am'' as he teed off with a succession of huge pulls and drives which not only broke The Computer Lab's resistence, but also a back window in one of the Oxford Road houses. With three more runs needed he'd sensed he was close to a half-century, and so uncharacteristically carressed a final boundary to take him off 50* from just 36 balls and us to a superb revenge victory over the old enemy.
Also -- and bizarrely, given how successful we've been this season -- this was our first victory against another club since June 20, so it has been quite a long time between drinks. Which of course were enjoyed by most members of both teams tonight as they sensibly decided to enjoy the late-evening warmth. It wasn't all fun and games, though, as some of our number found themselves hiding from Dave Williams and his list of unpaid subs.