``You've got to acccccentuate the positive, eeeeelimmmmminate the negative . . .''
Not bad advice, to be sure, but it would make for a rather short match report. Still, we'll give it a shot and see how far we can get without going on about leg-side half-trackers, non-existant backing up, dropped catches, soporific batting, poor running, and a general thrashing at the hands of Coton.
Actually there were plenty of positives, starting with the fact that it was another implausibly glorious evening -- for the second time this week we enjoyed the sort of perfect conditions that usually only come about a few times in a whole season. Hence our time in the field should maybe be written off as a good tanning opportunity and left at that. It was certainly a bit of a struggle otherwise, as the Coton top order hurtled along at more than 10 runs an (eight-ball) over. A few too many of those came from unnecessary overthrows and mis-fields, but the key ingredient was the batting of Senthil Natesan (a violent 74) and sometime Remnant George Speller (22*). While they were together an enormous total was on the cards, and it took something very special to separate them: violence, albeit of the self-inflicted variety, as George managed to top-edge a full toss into his face. There was plenty of blood and that horrible stretched-out moment when nobody's sure whether it's just a cut or something really serious. Fortunately, it turned out to be the former and, after a mercy delivery of, erm, toilet paper, George left the field to ponder whether betraying Remnants was such a good idea after all.
As for Senthil, he was still motoring. He dealt with the established bowlers with relative ease, the legal firm of Jordan, Jordan and Mortlock's career total of 400+ Remnants wickets counting for little as they were smacked for 96 runs from their 9 overs. It was clearly time to try some of the new guys. First up was Ben Armitage (0/13), who did well to slow the scoring, but was clearly still too experienced, this being his second ever Remnants game. No, what we really needed was a complete novice: step up Remnants first-timer Lindsay Blickem, who'd not bowled even a single delivery in a competitive match before. And, sure enough, two balls later Sentil was walking back to the pavilion, bowled slogging across the line. Lindsay added another wicket later in the over -- and should have had a third but for a dropped catch -- but was still presumably happy with first-up figures of 2/13. Ben and Lindsay were, along with Richard Rex, the stars in the field, running tirelessly around Fitz's wide open spaces as the score mounted. We did make something of a comeback towards the end of the innings, Jim Higginson (2/21) even being on a hat-trick at one point, but with a total of 147/8, there was no doubt that Coton was ahead on points at the inter-innings break.
There was even less doubt an over later, as Coton's Chris Cooke began the innings with a wicket maiden (although maybe we got off lightly, given that he took an unbelieveable 10/2 in a league game last year). Clearly it was worth seeing him off without taking too many risks, but sadly that sort of conservative approach persisted long after he'd used up his three overs. By the time we'd ambled our way to 40/2 from 8 overs it was just a case of batting out time, one of the Coton players even asking if we were ``playing for a draw'' (not as implausible as it sounds, actually, given that the sun had already disappeared from view). Tom Jordan's 37* off 57 balls was elegant enough, but it really needed some slightly less cultured urgency, which both Lindsay Blickem (20 off 21 balls) and Ben Armitage (7 off 7 balls) managed until their luck ran out. Criminally, only one Remnant managed a strike-rate of more than a run a ball, as Andy Owen vented his frustration at the hopelessness of the situation by smacking 12 off 8 balls before being caught on the boundary.
The eventual margin of 30 runs was highly flattering -- to us: our total only really beginning to mount when the Coton part-time bowlers came on in the late-evening gloom. By the time we got to the final over it wasn't just a case of the batsmen struggling to locate the ball, but of the bowler struggling to locate the pitch, at least if the record four consecutive wides were anything to go by. Or maybe said bowler was just a bit out of practice; either way, it was a suitably down-beat ending to the game.