Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Today was a day of seconds. It was the second evening in a row that we got to play, and even if the conditions didn't quite match last night's magnificence, the sun did make it out from behind the clouds for the middle hour of the game. It was also the second time this week we took on a new opposition for the first time, St Barnabas Church and Remnants finally getting on the field together after an abortive attempt last year. And, finally, second was what Remnants came in today's two-horse race, and by some way.
Certainly the early signs were bad enough, as St Barnabas sent out a pair of openers who looked worryingly like proper cricketers, and they took the score to 69/0 after 9 (six-ball) overs without really breaking a sweat. The better of the two, who apparently batted for Oxford University seconds, got bored and retired on 39*, albeit voluntarily, rather than compulsorily as was the case last night. They say ``one wicket brings another'', and this seems to hold for retirements as well, as the other opener was promptly bowled by Les Collings (2/23, despite the hinderence of Watsonesque facial foliage after his trans-America bike ride).
This brought our own Chris McNeill to the crease -- and despite his connection to St Barnabas Church being the only reason we even had an opposition today, captain Andy Owen immediately went on the attack, bringing in the field in an attempt to once again demonstrate what happens to those who turn against the Remnants family. Les couldn't get our man, so Colin Anderson (1/18) took up the mission, albeit with some unexpected slow-arcing lobs. The first landed in the block-hole and Chris dug it out, but the second was short and wide, so he smacked it through the off-side for four. At least that what should have happend, but Andrew Lea, fielding at short extra cover, dived full-length to his right and took a stunning catch (thus robbing Richard Rex of his ``catch of the season'' title after less than 24 hours). So Chris had to head back to the pavilion for a duck with the certain knowledge that this little drama was going to get a paragraph of its own in the match report (and a photograph, and probably an end-of-year quiz question as well).
What Chris didn't know, however, was that his dismissal would warrant a second paragraph, as it turns out that members of the West Indian and Australian Test teams decided to stage a re-enactment, starring Shivnarine Chanderpaul as Colin Anderson, Carl Hooper as Andrew Lea, and introducing Steve Waugh as Chris McNeill.
After all this excitement the rest of the innings was a bit dull. Andrew Lea (2/16) and Andy Owen (1/17) both bowled well to keep kept the scoring down, but St Barnabas still managed to post a healthy total of 135/6 thanks to their great start.
We got off to a pretty good start as well, with John Richer playing beautifully for 33 off 27 balls, but our innings lost momentum after he was trapped in front. Both Mike Sneyd (10 off 24 balls) and Andrew Lea (20* off 32 balls at this stage) were struggling to score, and by the half-way point we were in real trouble at 54/3. Our best chance of victory was to get a decent partnership going, but Andrew found himself greeting a succession of new partners as our numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 contributed just 6 runs between them.
By the time Andy Owen made a belated appearance with the score at 89/6 in the 16th over we needed a near impossible 55 off 25 balls; but, kick-started by Andy's uncompromising batting and hyper-aggressive running, we went from meek compliance to near total dominance in the blink of an eye. Andy himself was, inevitably, run out (for 5 off 3 balls) but Tom Jordan (8* off 6 balls) took up where he left off while Andrew went on the rampage, hitting a few effortless leg-side boundaries and otherwise running himself into the ground as he smacked 31 off his last 20 balls. When, off the final ball of the innings, Tom called the cheekiest of quick singles and then induced an overthrow, it took Andrew to 51* (from 52 balls) and meant we'd scored an exhilirating 43 runs from our final 4 overs. Unfortunately our final push had a bit too much of the ``final'' about it, having come a couple of overs too late, and so we finished 11 frustrating runs short of St Barnabas's total.
And so a Tuesday win was followed by a Wednesday loss for third time this season -- it's tempting to suggest that we've been resting on our laurels after each victory, but of course every week our two line-ups have been almost completely different, so it's probably just one of those little coincidences that will vanish as soon as it's been noticed. Either way, what would be nice is some continuity in terms of actually playing, so here's hoping that we at least get our Tuesday and Wednesday matches next week, and then the results can look after themselves.