With every over that passed in today's match a Remnants victory became ever more certain: when we batted our total just kept mounting up in a seemingly inexorable fashion; and when we bowled the asking rate went from high to critical to implausible and, for the last three overs, to impossible (in the mathematical sense of the word, albeit under the assumption of no wides or no balls). And yet despite the one-way traffic, there was always that nagging fear of a disastrous U-turn; for these Philanderers were not one of Watson's rag-tag fugitive teams, but a classy (if mercifully out of practice) group of, er, senior cricketers who, in their day, could have smacked us all over the park. Still, we could match their ex-Cambridgeshire player (Douglas Collard) with our own (Dave Norman), and in the end the critical factor was that Nick Clarke batted with the sort of assurity that saw him score over 1600 runs during the golden years from 2001 and 2003.
Nick and Dave Williams (41 off 34 balls with 7 fours) all but put the match out of The Philanderers' reach by compiling a brutal 91-run opening partnership that consumed just 57 deliveries. The boundary-hitting was a constant throughout, although they did take a little while to sort out their running: there was a single even if the ball was hit directly to a man, due to the opposition's unusually deep field-settings; and yet the start of the innings was dominated by ``no'' calls. Not that all the missed opportunities were down to the batsmen -- at one point our umpire stopped a wayward throw that should have yielded at least one extra run. And, possibly spurred on by this subterfuge, the running ended up being the most enjoyable part of the innings, with some 18 twos being run in our 20 (six-ball) overs.
After Dave had departed, Rupert Brown (28* off 34 balls with 2 fours) took over the support role while Nick raced towards a century. With two overs to go we finally got 'round to adding up his score, and found that he was on 78 -- we'd only missed clapping his fifty by 28 runs or so, but if he got enough of the strike to get 22 more there would be the chance to make up for our earlier omission. Then it was agreed that we'd do that straight away -- or at least next time he scored -- to which some smart-arse added ``unless he gets out now . . .''
. . . and so does it even need to be said that Nick was bowled next ball? For the second match in a row our top-scorer was done in by his team-mates' fatalistic predictions; but the batsman himself didn't seem to mind -- with a grand total of 78 off just 49 balls (with 12 fours), he was justifiably proud of his efforts.
Naturally this also meant we had a big fat total: 162/2, our highest since our almost embarrassingly one-sided game against The St Radegund last year, and almost certainly enough to win unless a pair of opposition batsmen really got going. And that never happened, the Remnants attack taking wickets with such regularity that only one of The Philanderers even made it into double figures -- and that despite the fact that we dropped all but one of the chances that came our way, missed a few simple run out opportunities, and didn't really bowl that well.
Joe White (1/3) was the pick of the bunch, once again being simply too quick, and his season's figures are a ridiculous 5/17 from 10 overs -- if we could clone him we'd presumably be able to bowl out teams for 34 every time. Supporting Joe from one end were Bryan Lea (1/22) and Rupert Brown (1/6), who were both McGrath-ishly metronomic with their medium pacers, while Matt Hughes (0/10) and Daniel Mortlock (2/14) were understandably slightly more erratic as they had their indulgent little adventures in Leggie Land and Wrong-'un World. By far the most enetertaining spell, though, was from John Moore, whose 1/28 veered from the sublime (bowling dangerman Collard off his toe) to the ridiculous (a couple of vertical-hold failures which 'keeper Dave Norman was only just able to reach by stretching up on tippy-toe). John's performance was also notable for his new cricket boots -- with the demise of his blue suede shoes and the replacement of Stas's shiny black track-suit pants, it's only Ollie Clarke in his gym shorts and muscle-top who's keeping Remnants in touch with the cutting edge of the London fashion scene.
And so Remnants won its fifth game in a row (four this season and our final external match last year), even if The Philanderers seemed pretty philosophical about the result over their post-match pints, reasoning that their sub-par performance was largely down to it being their first match of the year and that it'll be a different story when we play our return fixture in August . . .