Remnants Captain's Selection vs. Remnants Secretary's Choice

August 29, 2007
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants Secretary's Choice (87/7 in 14 8-ball overs)
lost to
Remnants Captain's Selection (91/5 in 11.6 8-ball overs)
by 7 wickets.

For the final match of the Remnants season we had nice, if not actually glorious, weather (something which, disappointingly, has been lacking some seven times this year) and we also had an opposition (something which, disgracefully, has been lacking some four times this year). And even if the opposition was just ourselves, what the teams might have lacked in surprise value they more than made up for in numbers, it being a mammoth thirteen-a-side affair. Whereas only two days earlier the field was all gaps in the six-a-side tournament, today it was a struggle not to have fielders in front of each other, both sides opting for one or more slips for lack of better ideas.

The bar emptied the moment word was out that The Secretary's Choice was going to bat first . . .

Daniel Mortlock's Captain's Selection (not that he had any say about the make-up of the team) took to the field first and set about restricting Russell Woolf's Secretary's Choice, which they did with diabolical ease.

Evidence of The Secretary's Choice being restricted with diabolical ease. From left: John Gull, Adrian Mellish, Mike Sneyd, Colin Anderson, John Picton and Nicky Mellish (attending the scoreboard).

Rob Harvey came onto bowl when his young son, Joe, couldn't be coaxed to the crease himself. Ollie Harris prepares to back up, eagerly hoping to face Rob himself . . .

Rob Harvey, yet another victim of the ``one over spell'' policy, back minding to the lonely expanse of Fitz's square boundary.

Mike Sneyd shows how it should be done.

Mike Sneyd shows how it shouldn't be done.

The Choice were just 44/3 after 9 (eight-ball) overs as The Selection's bowlers, despite being largely limited to one-over spells, were all immaculate in line and length, while the fielding was as sharp as it's been all year. Paul Jordan (0/1), Chris McNeill (1/5), Faruk Kara (2/3), Andrew Lea (0/8), Tom Jordan (0/10), Rob Harvey (0/14), John Picton (0/20 in his first Remnants game since 1999) and Nick Clarke (1/13) proved nigh on impossible to get away, and gave up just 7 boundaries between then.

Chris McNeill sends one down while Matt Hughes oversees proceedings, Mike Sneyd rests on his laurels, Nick Clarke wills the batsman to hit the ball to him, Dave Green wills the batsman to hit the ball to Nick Clarke, and An Other lurks around at mid-wicket.

Bryan Lea, Faruk Kara and Nick Clarke: 5/21's not a bad day's bowling for two men who've topped the club's batting averages and one who was undismissed for the year.

But my personal highlights were the rarely seen leg-spin of Dave Williams (0/2), who also chucked in some wrong-uns to completely bamboozle the batsmen, and Bryan Lea, who not only earned a rare second over but, by nabbing 2/5 with his in-duckers, took his season's haul to 8 wickets at 9.12. This, in turn, was sufficient to squeeze past the absent Joe White (11 wickets at 9.18) to top the bowling averages, albeit by such a small margin that even one extra run on Bryan's ledger would have seen Joe triumphant (and by a greater margin).

Dave Williams prepares to bowl.

Dave Williams also starred in the field, taking a great boundary line catch to dismiss Olly Harris (20) and then running out a surprised Stas Shabala (22) when he hurled the ball 70 yards to the 'keeper despite the frantic calls for it to go to the ``bowler's end, bowler's end!'' Other notable efforts included Rob Harvey's diving saves at point, young Joe Harvey, in his first Remnants game, patrolling the square boundary, and less young Geoff Hales, in his 382nd Remnants game, rock-solid at long-on in his first on-field appearance since his hip operation in April.

Geoff Hales on the field for the first time this year.

Stas Shabala gets onto the front foot, even if it looks like this shot could be slightly uppish.

It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, and John Richer (14), along with Olly and Stas, helped The Choice double their score in their final 5 overs. Their eventual total of 87/7 was hardly imposing, but at least it wasn't embarrassing.

Russell Woolf goes the heave to try and lead his side to a decent total.

Russell Woolf, having gone the heave and failed to lead his side to a decent total.

It's all happening here at the FCG! Chris McNeill (at first slip), Andrew Lea (at backward square-leg), Geoff Hales (not umpiring, but watching from the boundary), Daniel Mortlock (wicket-keeping), Mike Sneyd (not fielding, but umpiring at square-leg), and Rob Harvey (rudely fielding with his back to camera) all wait to see where Alec Armstrong is going to hit the ball.

Daniel Mortlock leads his charges from the field one last time while Joe and Rob Harvey celebrate the inevitable crumbling of Daniel's Stalinist regime.

For once there hadn't been much faffing about between deliveries, and so, unlike in the season's first Remnants vs. Remnants game, we had time for the traditional club photograph, kindly taken by Nicky Mellish -- although she really should have been in it herself, having made her Remnants playing debut, as well as being our number one supporter. And as if there weren't enough Remnants on the field, we also had a few more drop by, with Matt Hughes and Richard Rex popping by 'cos they were in the vicinity and Ev Fox coming all the way from Doha to see the game.

Ev Fox, back in town for a few weeks, having his first alcoholic drink in six months.

Back on the field, the slow scoring continued, The Choice's bowlers exploiting the packed field and low bounce every bit as well as their Selection counterparts. Colin Anderson (0/5), Alec Armstrong (0/7, including the game's only maiden), Les Collings (0/5), Mike Francis (1/6) Adrian Mellish (0/15) and Stas Shabala (0/7) all had a great time of it, even if Stas must have been a little miffed to have an LBW decision given and then retracted when the batsman, understandably given that he'd been hit on the thigh, refused to budge.

It might have been Fourteen-14, but that's no reason not to have four slips, a leg-slip and a silly mid-on.

This incident seemed to induce the dose of mayhem that the game sorely needed, and later that same over John Gull produced one of the most athletic pieces of fielding in the club's admittedly rather unathletic history. Chris McNeill (15 off 27 balls) had latched onto a pull shot, the sort where you know it's a boundary from the moment the ball leaves the bat. Certainly it bounced across the grass like a Dambusters bomb along the Rhine -- but then, from stage right, John came hurtling into a view, a fired up Messerschmit desperate to spoil the party. With the ball just feet from the boundary he launched into a full length dive, aquaplaning over the wet gress, his arm outstretched, his head cherry red from the atmospheric friction like the underside of the Space Shuttle (or maybe it was just his hair). And yet the ball was hit just a little too well, evading his superhero efforts, flying past him and . . . into the the hands of John Richer, who hadn't even had to move and had calmly made a long barrier safe in the knowledge that his namesake's exertions weren't going to affect the trajectory of the ball.

Whilst John Gull's running dive in the field was an absolute triumph, it's arguable that this classical forward defensive was an even better illustration of his contribution to the game today. Moreover, it seems quite a succinct summary of the whole Remnants cricketing experience, and there was talk of putting this image on the web-site's front page . . .

John (Gull) was then given a bowl and, in keeping with the wild enthusiasms of his fielding, tore in off a dozen paces to deliver an over of exuberant full tosses -- not that any of them were called, leaving him with the sort of figures (0/6) that hide the mad genius at work and show decisively that this game is about way more than the numbers.

And maybe John's bowling did have the desired effect in the end, both batsmen losing their wickets in the next few overs as Andy Owen completed a sharp stumping and Paul Henderson, playing for the first time since moving to America in 2003, took a stunning diving catch at shortish mid-wicket. And with these wickets the game was won and lost, albeit not exactly in the way one might expect -- as The Selection's monster middle-order finally got a go. Dave Green (13 off 14 balls) not only played his signature late cuts and pulls, but essayed a glorious off drive off a rather surprised Russell Woolf (1/22); Dave Williams (24 from 16 balls) cemented his place at the top of the batting averages with an explosive innings that included 4 consectuve boundaries; Nick Clarke (13* from 4 balls) did about as much damage as possible from half an over; and Paul Jordan (13* off 14 balls) finished the match with a classical cut for four.

Remnants captain-elect, Russell Woolf.

That not only brought the curtain down on the Remnants season, but on Daniel Mortlock's two-year tenure as captain -- and I have it on good authority that he quite liked showing captain-elect Russell Woolf who was boss one last time before being relegated to ``fine leg both ends'' in 2008. Daniel finished the year as he began it (by forgetting to bring a pair of socks to the ground) but at least had the compensation of not having to congratulate opposition captains on their fine victory quite as often this year.

Daniel Mortlock plays to his strengths.

Bryan Lea (last-minute winner of the bowling averages), Dave Norman (highest career batting average for Remnants) Andrew Lea (winner of last year's batting averages) and Dave Williams (clear winner of this year's batting averages) wonder what they're doing playing with such a bunch of amateurs.

Once everyone had their post-match beers (the pre-match beers having run out), Geoff silenced the assembled throng to thank Daniel and Russ for their on-field leadership during the season, Sally Hales for her immaculate scoring (which now includes the batsmen's dot balls), Andy Owen for getting things done (particularly Monday's six-a-side tournament, which he announced had made GBP 620 for charity), and Dave Norman for giving us such a good home at which to play our cricket. But of course the biggest thank you was to Geoff himself, without whom Remnants wouldn't be -- well, just wouldn't be. (Although hopefully he won't take our token of appreciation -- a book of Wisden obituaries -- the wrong way.)

Daniel Mortlock presents Geoff Hales with a book of Wisden obituaries as a thank-you for all the work he's done this (and every) season to keep Remnants CC going.

John Richer: 111 Remnants games and counting.

Rob Harvey: 145 Remnants games and counting.

Les Collings: 166 Remnants games and counting.

Mike Sneyd: 198 Remnants games and counting.

Geoff Hales: 382 games and counting.

With the beer having been drunk and the Sun having set it was time for us vulnerable cricketers to escape the cold and the dark, and to seek refuge in the warmth of The Tandoori Palace. The meal was as good as always (even if Sally, like Arthur Dent, still can't get a cup of tea there), but there seemed to be general air of melancholy that this season really had ended too soon -- the record number of cancelled games has meant that only one player managed as many matches as there were weeks in the season, and even some of the regulars hadn't actually seen each other 'til tonight. Still, there's no changing the tilt of the earth's axis (as far as I know), so that's it until the annual dinner in November, And as I type this across the road from where The Last Of The Proms is taking place, it only remains to say ``I hope we'll meet again some sunny day''.