On a grey and miserable day Remnants played a grey and miserable game of cricket against the old foe, The Computer Lab. Heading off to their spacious home at Caius College we found a damp ground in the middle of which a worryingly soft-looking pitch could be made out. Even more worryingly, it turned out we were to banished to one edge of the square to avoid potential damage to a bunch of badly parked cars, and the actual pitch was almost impossible to distinguish from the lush, green grass around it (although that was no longer the case by game's end, the areas around both wickets having become great big mud patches).
We took to the field first, and Daniel Mortlock (1/7), Marcelino Gopal (0/19 on Remnants debut) and Andy Owen (0/10) all managed to restrict the opposition with their medium pace despite the fact that, due to one no-show and one late-arrival, we only had nine Remnants patrolling a field that felt like it was all gaps. That said, we did have a tenth fielder in the form of Luke Perera (The Computer Lab's twelfth man who eventually ended up being a fully fledged Remnant for the evening), who did great work in the field and also offered helpful inside information about his nominal team mates' batting predilictions.
Containment was all well and good, but we really needed to take some wickets -- recent games against the programmers at Caius have seen them successfully defend totals of 132, 108 and 104, so restricting them to a two-figure score was the aim. Fortunately, our slow bowlers succeeded where the quicker guys had failed, Julian Chilvers (1/15) making the first breakthrough (getting a wicket with his second ball despite not hitting the pitch 'til his fourth) and Adrian Mellish (1/16) doing enough to impress his wife, Nicky, who, rather than looking on adoring from the pavilion, was watching carefully from third man, having been drafted into our under-manned (no pun intended) line-up at the last minute. The real star, though, was Russell Woolf (3/26) whose deceptively floated left-armers were perfect on this treacherous surface. Thanks to their efforts The Computer Lab were just 81/4 after 16 (six-ball) overs, but then we had a bit of a fielding melt-down (partly explained by the heavy rain which had set in) during which we dropped catches, let balls through to the boundary, missed an easy run out and even, at one point, had the ball come to a stop inside the boundary with nobody chasing it. The result was that we were were faced with the rather worrying total of 112, and the smart money was on the opposition.
Our chase started off explosively with John Gull quickly bettering his recent ``first innings of the season'' record by racing to 3 . . . before slogging at a straight one. After that things slowed down, with Andy Owen (16 off 25 balls) and John Young (8 off 22 balls) both struggling to score -- and indeed even to stand up, a difficulty they shared with the bowlers. At 34/2 after 9 overs the required rate had jumped to more than 7 an over and the match was slipping away. Our best hope was big-hitting Marcelino Gopal, but he too was primarily concerned with just staying upright . . . until he came off and swapped into Andy's spikes, a move that had roughly the same effect as Superman changing into his cape. With superb support from Luke Perera (10 off 11 balls) and the opposition fielders (two of whom stood and stared as a top edge went straight up and then straight down, plopping into the soft surface as the two of them exchanged embarrassed looks), Marcelino got us back into the game. With three overs left he'd scored 37 (off just 30 balls) and we needed 23 off the last 3 overs, which suddenly seemed very plausible with Marcelino on strike and scoring at will. Unfortunately that became 90/6 a ball later and, despite valiant efforts by Mike Francis (9 off 9 balls) and Julian Chilvers (4 off 7 balls), we were always going to fall frustratingly short.
So, once again, The Computer Lab had managed to defend a numerically small total at their fortress and, once again, we were left to drown our sorrows at the nice clubhouse bar. Except today we were also toasting Geoff and Sal's thirtieth wedding anniversary -- it was just a quiet drink this time, rather than the commemorative game that was staged for their twenty-fifth, but fanfare or not, congratulations to both for their superb unbeaten partnership.