Today we played a game of cricket in blinding sunshine. This was a miracle. No, not in a "Shaun Tait finally held a catch" kind of way, nor in a "sailor rescued by neighbour four thousand miles from home" kind of way, but in a "God reached down from the sky and personally removed the clouds from over the ground for the express purpose of facillitating a Remnants vs. Woozlers cricket match" kind of way. Don't believe me? Well, ye of little faith, how about this for proof:
Now, despite the little blip where our allegedly omniscient god turned on the lights at 6am rather than 6pm, are we agreed? Yes? Thank you. Yes, yes, apology accepted . . . oh, you want to make Remnants CC the basis of a religion now? Remnantology? Um, okay . . . with The Great Prophet Hales and Watson The Redeemer? And Malik The Messiah?!? Steady on -- he's definitely more ``naughty boy'', by his own account. And no, Sal's scorebooks aren't ``sacred texts'', even if they are very neat and nobody's allowed to read them . . . just as the old pads that won't stay on 'cos the velcro's dead aren't ``holy relics'' even if they have holes . . . and Paul Jordan is not going to sacrifice his only son to atone for his dropped catches . . .
. . . although he did bring him along to the game today to make a total of three Remnants who turned out in the mistaken belief that they were down to play. Which was also a miracle, as one of our eleven dropped out at the last minute and the Woozlers were two short, so everyone got a game, even if Tom Jordan and Chris McNeill were obliged to commit the cardinal sin of playing for the opposition.
The Woozlers batted first (mainly 'cos making them field with six men would have been a bit mean) and were immediately in big trouble at 3/3 in the fifth over. After Rupert Brown (0/3) had sent down a maiden, Faruk Kara (2/20) got a wicket with his first ball of the season when Oliver Harris, at short mid-wicket, held onto a bullet at the third attempt. Faruk finished the over with a rank long-hop, but this too resulted in a wicket as the batsman mis-hit the ball to Phil Hastings, who took a nice running catch (partly aided by his residual momentum from having just come onto the field after arriving late). And then Oliver Rex (1/12), being a quick learner, tried a long-hop as his first ball of the season, too, and of course it was hit straight to his apparent mentor, Faruk, who held a straightforward catch.
The rest of the innings wasn't nearly as dramatic -- the pitch was sticky and slow, and Russell Woolf (0/7), Alec Armstrong (1/11), Phil Hastings (1/17) and Adrian Mellish (2/17) were all but impossible to score off . . . except if they dropped short. This happened maybe a little bit more often than it should have; and, when it did, Woozlers captain Ryan Bridger was on hand to smack the ball to the boundary as he mounted a one-man rescue effort. He managed to score 70 (off 58 balls) in a total of only 89/7 to which his team-mates contributed totals of 0, 0, 0, 5, 7, 0, 1* and 2*. None of them hit even a single boundary, whereas Ryan smacked 10 fours and 2 sixes. It was a truly remarkable innings against tight bowling on a really difficult wicket - and his relative contribution of 78.65% of his side's runs is higher than any Remnant has ever managed. And if he'd received any more support we would have been in deep shit.
As it was we just had to score at 4.5 an over and we'd have another comfortable early-season victory under our belts. Of course it didn't quite work out that way: The Woozlers' opening bowlers did brilliantly to restrict us to a measly 28/2 after 10 (six-ball) overs -- even with their disastrous start they had scored 42 at the same stage of their innings. Somehow we needed more than a run a ball; but maybe the key thing was that Phil Hastings had played himself in and was about ready to hit out. And hit out he did, slapping 3 fours and 2 sixes in the next few overs to finish up on 52* (off 52 balls), almost single-handedly winning the game in the process. Well, maybe that's putting it a bit too strongly, given the one-man show when the Woozlers batted, and he did receive good support from Mike Sneyd (13 off 21 balls, with 1 four) and Daniel Mortlock (13* off 15 balls, with 1 six), but without Phil's innings we probably would have lost.
With a May record of five wins, three wash-outs and a loss (compared to two wins, two wash-outs and five losses last year) we headed off to the temple of The Bar to be served holy water (and lager shandies) by High Priest Dave Norman -- and really, if anyone deserved prayers of thanks tonight, it was him, having spent the day answering his phone (``Hi, Dave, I was just wondering if the game's on . . .'') and tending to the covers on the pitch. Any money ours was the only game of cricket in Cambridge this evening -- just goes to show what can happen if you have a little faith, eh?