Remnants vs. The CB XI

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (99/6 in 12 8-ball overs)
lost to
The CB XI (100/2 in 8.4 8-ball overs)
by 8 wickets.

The spectrum of Remnants fixtures ranges from the life-affirming combination of a last-ball victory played out in glorious conditions to the the hopelessness of a complete thrashing or the grimness of sodden wash-out. And of course the worst of this last category is when the rain holds off for long enough that everyone has to make their way to the ground, only for the game to be called off after an over or so. Which, as you might have guessed, is the situation we were facing today: at 6pm the members of Remnants and The CB XI huddled in the pavilion as fairly heavy rain blew across the ground. We tossed up and agreed on a ``12 eights'' game, albeit without any real belief that we'd even get one over in. But then the rain stopped, Dave Norman gave us carte blanche to cut up the pitch, and it was ``game on''.

Which was a pity, really, as by escaping the frying pan of the last-minute washout we jumped straight into the fire of the total thrashing. Choosing to bat first (largely so we could hunker down in the pavilion) it was slow going, with only Andy Owen (24 off 34 bals) and extras (at total of 29) making it into double figures. The two combined beuatifully several times when Andy dismissed head-high full-tosses to the boundary, although the most spectacular contribution came when one unfortunate CB XI bowler lost his radar and delivered a 19-ball over with 10 wides and a no ball (and a leg-bye, to almost complete the full set of extras). We were in reasonably healthy shape at 67/2 after 8 overs, with Andy getting support from both Dave Williams (11 off 10 balls) and Mike Sneyd (11 off 18 balls), even if Mike's early runs were misattributed after Sally had inexplicably confused the team's oldest and youngest members (``Is that young Tom Jordan in the helmet?'' ``No Sal, it's young Mike Sneyd.''). After Mike and Andy were dismissed in quick succession the run-scoring dried up, and even John Gull's last minute promotion into the eleven only resulted in his 300+ average being halved when he was out first ball. In the end it was only the free-hitting of Kiran Sakhamuri (17* off 14 balls) that at least got us above a run a ball.

A target of 100 couldn't have been too frightening for The CB XI, but The Philanderers had defended 95 in a similarly truncated game a fortnight ago, so if we could keep the ball on off-stump we'd at least have a chance. Paul Jordan (1/18) and Daniel Mortlock (1/12) both bowled okay to begin with, and some really sharp stops by John Richer and Mike Sneyd prevented numerous quick singles, with the result that The CB XI were marginally behind the required rate at 30/2 after 4 (eight-ball) overs.

From there on, however, it was a disaster. Despite the fact that The CB XI had kept most of the best batsmen down the order, their third wicket pair smashed 70 more off the next 36 balls to hit the winning runs with another 36 deliveries still to come. The batsmen's clean-hitting notwithstanding, it felt like the dominant contribution was our seemingly endless supply of half-trackers and full tosses, closely followed by a succession of dropped catched and, as the match slipped away, some basic fielding errors. This was all summed up nicely when a chance went down of a head-high full toss (which had, admittedly, already been called ``no ball'') and then the batsmen almost got a second run when the return was a bit wild. The ending was similarly appropriate: when the scores were tied Dave Williams (0/4) brought in his mid-off and was presumably delighted when a lofted drive went straight to the repositioned fielder . . . but the ball went through his hands and the batsmen duly ambled the winning run (although for a second we were on for the Silliest Run Out Ever when one of them began heading for the pavilion without making his ground).

So: better than a wash-out, but maybe not by that much, especially given the eight previous matches between the clubs had all been tight, dramatic affairs -- this was the first true thrashing either side had inflicted on the other. The only undeniable positive was the extra drinking time that resulted from the early finish, although even then it could be argued that a wash-out would have been better on that score as well.