Remnants comes up against plenty of teams with high-standard ringers in their side (e.g., Hart-McLeod last night) but for some reason it's only against Fathers And Sons that we feel free to include our own, in the form of Fitz groundsman Dave Norman. Today he was also captaining Remnants (thus following in the footsteps of Russell Woolf, Joe White, Rupert Brown, Andy Owen and Geoff Hales to become our sixth captain of the season) but a quick look at the under-manned opposition revealed just a fairly normal-looking collection of solid club cricketers, as opposed to the smattering of first class experience that graced our previous FAS encounter.
Today's game began as so many have in the last few years, with Joe White and Daniel Mortlock being quick and accurate enough to have the batsmen in all sorts of trouble in the first few overs. Which would have been great, if not for the fact that Remnants were batting, and Joe and Daniel (along with Harveys Rob and Joe) were turning out for FAS. Not that these early difficulties were any great cause for alarm, as we were fielding one of the best Remnants batting line-ups on record. Aside from Dave Norman (who has the highest ever club batting average, 47.60), we had Andy Owen (second in the all-time averages, with 46.56), Dave Williams (easily last year's top batsman with 383 runs at 54.71), Andrew Lea (top of the 2006 averages with 293 runs at 36.62 and leading this year's with 134 runs at 134.00) and Nick Clarke (our most prolific and destructive run-scorer this decade): in other words, close to the perfect top five for twenty-over cricket. Even though neither Nick Clarke (9 off 12 balls) nor Andrew Lea (12 off 18 balls) really got going, leaving us at just 53/2 after 10 (six-ball) overs, there was a sense of inevitability that a couple of batsmen would settle in for some heavy scoring. And, sure enough, Daves Williams (57* off 46 balls, despite having been just 3* off 12 early on) and Norman (52 off just 33 balls) both hit brutal, boundary-laden half-centuries to lift us to a healthy total of 139/4.
With FAS needing to score at 7 runs an over from the outset, all we had to do was contain the opposition, and we had the ideal rota of tight, niggly bowlers to do just that. In the first half of the innings Bryan Lea (1/24), Les Collings (1/24) and Matt Hughes (1/24) almost kept the batsmen in check, but a few loose balls meant that FAS, at 84/3 after 12 overs, were scoring at exactly the required rate. Really, though, given that they had wickets in hand, FAS were ideally set up to win, and we were going to need either some ultra-tight bowling or, preferably, a wicket. Adrian Mellish seemed the man least likely to provide the necessary inspiration when he dropped a catch primarily because he was half-way through putting his jumper on, but it was a different story when he came onto bowl, and his four-over spell of 0/21 put FAS behind the run rate for the first time all day. Chris McNeill (0/20 in his four overs) hammered another nail into the FAS coffin, and then Dave Norman (1/24), having already taken two effortless catches of the sort most of us sometimes drop, reluctantly brought himself on to bowl at the death. First up he broke the opposition's best partnership (thanks to Andy Owen holding a sharp catch standing up to the stumps) and then he made sure Joe and Daniel (now reuinted at the tail end of the match and not having batted together since taking FAS to a tight victory over Remnants back in 2006) couldn't score the 14 needed off the final over. And neither could they score the 10 it later turned out was needed -- Sal's full reconstruction of the scorecard confirmed that FAS ended up on 135/4 (not 139/4), and thus that Remnants won by only 4 runs.
Either way, the main thing was that we got full value for our ringer, as Dave scored 52 runs, took 2 catches, grabbed a vital wicket and, most importantly, led Remnants to a rare victory. This gave us our fifth ``won one, lost one'' week of the year, although it would have been six if we hadn't let Granta get away with a tie last Wednesday. More importantly, it means our season's ledger of five wins, one tie and seven losses (and five bloody cancellations) is within touching distance of respectability, and two good performances against Mott-McDonald and The Beehive next week will see parity restored.