Report by Daniel Mortlock:
It was time for the annual Remnants pilgrimage to the vast expanses of Churchill College's playing fields, located in the unexplored lands to the south of Huntingdon Road. Aside from a change of scene from Fitz, the attractions of this fixture are many, ranging from being watched by nubile undergrads (even including a few girls) to the more earthy pleasures of the college bar just off to the side of the cricket ground. Sadly today there wasn't much of the former, the mid-match arrival of clouds and a cold wind driving the students indoors, but the latter had a central role in the game, with Dave Green (a Churchill fellow) playing drinks waiter for those of us sitting around waiting to bat. Not that there were too many of them initially - Nick Clarke must have been very relieved to have won the toss, as if he'd lost and we'd been asked to bowl he'd have been leading a motley half-dozen onto the field (and that's including Ben Armitage, who today became the first Remnant to do his official twelfth man duty).
Our innings today was real old-school Remnants, a healthy total being built with no single big innings, but with a series of effective, if somewhat agricultural, contributions by all the batsmen . . . and an unfortunate Churchill bowler who began the game with a 13-ball over of beamers, wides and long-hops which eventually yielded 28 runs. After that Nick Clarke (21), Dave Williams (18), Matt Hughes (9), Daniel Mortlock (28), Jon Steele (14) and Andy Owen (29, caught going for glory off the final ball) all kept the scoreboard ticking along at ten an (eight-ball) over, even if none of them really got in on what was a tricky, slow track. And while Dave Green (2*) only got to face a few balls, he did get to show his power over the student body after he played a fairly innocuous block and was getting ready to face the next ball, only to look up to see Andy barrelling down the pitch calling him through for a crazy single. By the time Dave got moving he, Andy, the ball, and the Churchill 'keeper were all in about the same spot, a few yards in front of the stumps, but Dave headed off and somehow managed to intimidate the students to the degree that they screwed up what should have been the easiest of run outs. Pleasingly, this high-risk approach ran through the whole innings, with everyone finding a way to score somehow, rather than getting too bothered when it proved hard to bat "properly". The end result was comfortably the biggest total of the year so far, 157/6; and, with conditions now far gloomier, we headed out to field with a sense of a victory already won.
Which soon disappeared as the Churchill openers went to town on some fairly pedestrian Remnants bowling, swiping boundary after boundary between square leg and cow corner. Tom Serby (0/24) and Julian Chilvers (0/14) had caused the most difficulty by taking the pace off the ball, but the only real Remnants successes were the tireless fielding efforts on the boundary, where Jon Steele, Richard Rex, Matt Hughes and Dave Williams all more than earned their keep. We repeatedly saved runs by getting throws away quickly, although the Churchill batsmen deprived themselves of at least a dozen runs by their uncertain calling, the nadir being when they refused a walkable single after driving the ball to Andy Owen, some 55 metres from the bat at deep mid-on. Still, with the score mounting primarily in boundaries, there was the very real possibility of a ten-wicket defeat by the time the total had reached 107/0 after 10 overs.
Nick, however, still had a few tricks up his sleeve, having clearly learnt by watching watching Russell's tactics in last week's win over Romsey, and had decided that he too would try saving his fastest bowlers 'til they could have maximum effect in the twilight. And even though it wasn't as dark as a week ago, and even though we didn't have Joe sending the ball down at 70 mph, the plan worked, as Andy Owen (1/32) and Daniel Mortlock (3/13) both made critical breakthroughs in the nick of time. Daniel got rid of the two openers (who'd done brilliantly to get 71 and 35) by the simple virtue of bowling straight and full, although the limitations of this approach were exposed in the final over when one delivery hit the base of the off stump sufficiently hard to deflect past 'keeper Dave Green for byes and yet somehow didn't dislodge the bails (cf similar incidents in last July's match against Hart-McLeod and the internal game/farce). And even though the match was decided by this stage, the last over was probably the most dramatic since the first, with Dave Williams scoring a brilliant run out with a rocket throw from the huge boundary, one of the Churchill batsmen ignoring the gloom to execute an exquisite cover drive for four, and then Daniel being so determined to get under a steepling top edge that he all but shoved Tom, already placed exactly where the ball would fall, out of the way with maniacal screams of "Daniel's ball! Daniel's ball!" that would have come back to haunt him if he hadn't held the catch.
After that things calmed down as we retired to the spacious Churchill bar, where Dave bought us drinks at "student prices" while we relived a most enjoyable cricket match which saw 300 runs scored, 11 wickets taken and, even better, Remnants win in the end.