Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Total cricket. Watching Remnants tonight must have been as revelatory as watching the Dutch national football team in the seventies. And, just as they ran rings around their opponents by allowing the players to swap positions at will, so tonight we bamboozled George Speller's XI (really George Speller's IX, but that doesn't look right) by mixing it up like seldom before. Adrian Mellish opened both the batting and bowling, despite never having done either previously; Chris McNeill opened the bowling from the other end despite being a 'keeper more often than not; Daniel Mortlock, who's taken the new ball more often than anyone else this year, kept wickets (after having fielded for the opposition for the duration of our innings); Richard Rex, having not batted in a proper match for about twenty years, came in at number three; Joe White, comfortably our top bowler this season, didn't even get to mark out his run-up (although he did get to bat at number five when the nominal next man in was nowhere to be found); and Russell Woolf, probably Joe's nearest competition in the bowling stakes, got a TFC ("thanks for coming", for the uninitiated), his services not being required at all in the end.
The result of this total cricket was a total thumping, although such a handsome victory seemed a long way off when one of the opposition's opening bowlers took a wicket first ball with a searing Akram-style yorker. But his next ball was cricket's equivalent of a "wild pitch" -- and it was the first of many, our early scoring being dominated by a succession of really wide wides (several of which were taken by gully) and anarchic no balls (including one for chucking). In the end there were some forty bowling extras alone, although the difficulty of putting so many crosses and circles in the tiny boxes in the dodgy Kookaburra scorebook means that most of the figures mentioned here are "plus or minus a few".
On the batting front Phil Hastings (36 off 36 balls before tearing his hamstring) and Richard Rex (17 off 30 balls) made runs from anything they could reach, and yet, after 11 (six-ball) overs, we were only just ahead of the game at 76/2. It was at this point that, somewhat predictably, the bowling fell away, the main result of which was that Joe White (51 off 36 balls) got one of the easier half-centuries in Remnants history. Ably supported by Bryan Lea (13* off 10 balls, and still undefeated this season) they scored at almost ten an over, eventually taking us to the seemingly impregnable total of 161/5.
To their credit, The George Speller XI's top order made a real go of an implausible chase, racing to 28/1 after 4 overs. At which point things fell apart for them as Chris McNeill (2/15), Adrian Mellish (2/15, including a double-wicket maiden) and Olly Rex (2/17) dismissed most of the team between them. And whilst good catches were held by Joe White, Bryan Lea, Chris McNeill (an Aussie rules-style mark as he body-checked Russell) and Daniel Mortlock (who also had his first ever stumping turned down on the grounds that one of his own fielders had blocked Geoff's view), the collapse might have been more extreme if three swirling skyers had been held as well. Not that it mattered - indeed it might have even have been for the greater good as otherwise Julian Chilvers (1/12) and John Young (1/1) probably wouldn't even have gotten a bowl . . . which, of course, was the fate that did befall Russ, who got no closer than being told "next over this end" just before John finished off the match.
The early finish and slightly grim conditions meant most people raced home to try and eat dinner at a sensible time for once, but the core of Speller's XI remained to work out if they should play under a team name in the future. Various acronyms of "George Speller" got an airing (i.e., "Slogger Peelers" or "Eel Leg Gropers"), and the man himself plumbed for the catchy Artichoke And Queen's Arms XI, although there's something to be said for going by the moniker of The Pretty Boys, notwithstanding the presence of a man who, having been announced as "The Beast" when he came on to bowl, shrugged and said it was "for reasons which are obvious".