Many of our recent games against The Cavendish have been hard fought affairs, at least in the sense that Remnants had been fighting hard not to be thrashed -- unsuccessfully, if losses by 6 wickets, 61 runs, 6 wickets, 8 wickets and 9 wickets are anything to go by. But, from the moment their secretary sent out an e-mail with the subject line "game today vs remnants - only 6 players so far", it seemed unlikely that today's match would join this pantheon of bruising encounters. By match time that six had become seven, and then we were able to add our own John Gull, who'd just turned up to watch but was drafted on the grounds that his dad is a Cavendish professor. There was also talk of Chris McNeill, who works at The Cavendish, once again switching allegiances and playing for the opposition but, despite the fact that this would presumably have guaranteed us a victory, we retained his services (and a good thing too, as it turned out).
We batted first (by agreement, as one eighth of The Cavendish team had to leave early) and, in contrast to last week's game against UCLES it was a case of working out which star batsmen weren't going to get a spot in the top order. Given Dave Williams's recent scores (43, 41, 75* and 73*) it was hard to go past him as a guaranteed source of runs, but Bryan Lea (who only got three proper innings last year and is more often to be found opening the bowling) was somewhat surprised to be asked to open with Dave, and didn't seem to take seriously his captain's suggestion that he was "good for a maiden fifty today".
At any rate Dave and Bryan managed to see off the new ball without too much bother, and took us to a healthy, if unremarkable, 51/0 after 8 (six-ball) overs. At which point they both shifted up a gear as The Cavendish ran out of bowlers, the result of which was that we scored at more than ten an over for the last half of our innings. The scorers became flustered, the Cavendish fielders got frustrated, and the remaining Remnants became increasingly resigned to not getting a bat tonight. In the end a wicket did fall, albeit on the third last ball of the innings, but not before Dave (83 off 64 balls, with 9 fours and 2 sixes) and Bryan (61* off 55 balls with 9 fours but no sixes) had combined to put together the club's second biggest partnership: 166 runs from 120 rather mixed deliveries. John Gull, who'd got the wicket for his new pay-masters, seemed pretty cocky about his achievement, but then Nick Clarke (8* off 2 balls with 2 fours) put him back in his place as he smashed the last two balls of the innings to the boundary, thus inflating John's figures to a rather ugly 2 overs, 0 maidens, 1/34.
Still, John was back in action a few minutes later, opening the batting for The Cavendish and doing a pretty good job of it, too. Combining well with a javelin-thrower (who hit some brilliant shots that only became more impressive when it was revealed that he'd only ever played three games of cricket in his life), John put our bowling to the sword, smacking lots of boundaries and making us look decidedly flat-footed in the field. In part our malaise might have stemmed from the feeling that the match was already won against such an under-manned opposition, but no bowler likes being dealt with so easily, and only Rupert Brown (1/11, to go with the most relaxed of catches) managed to concede less than a run a ball.
The match-sealing moment came courtesy of Chris McNeill (2/40), who had John well caught by Andrew Lea (who sacrificed his finger in the process) and then should have had said javelin-thrower dismissed in identical fashion next ball -- the only problem was that Andrew had left the field and his replacement at mid-off had apparently used up his day's skill quotient whilst batting. After that, the bowling was shared around as The Cavendish's middle order got some batting practice and the matched petered out, the end even being delayed briefly by a wide off what should have been the final ball.
And, as if there was any doubt that tonight wasn't the full Monty, Dave Norman was off playing darts, so we couldn't even soak ourselves in ale. Given last month's wash-out and today's lacklustre match, we can only hope that our return match against The Cavendish at the end of July recaptures the intensity of most of our previous encounters with the department from which Remnants has drawn so many players over the years (provided we win, that is).