After the Remnants season ended last week it rapidly became clear that nobody was ready to say goodbye just yet. By evening's end the vague talk of a birthday game for our scorer, Sally Hales, had become a plan; and by 5:30pm tonight it had become reality. The Birthday Treats (led by Joe White's avatar, known as An'dy Ow'en) and The Happy Returns (led by Russell Woolf's bowling coach, Daniel Mortlock) attempted to rush through a Fourteen/14 game, although everybody had one eye on the ominous clouds approaching from the west.
The Happy Returns, who'd chosen to field first, had the upper hand initially as Daniel Mortlock (0/8), Les Collings (0/12), Ferdinand Rex (1/17) and Julius Rix (1/11) gave away precious few runs. The innings got a necessary injection of momentum when the dubiously attired John Gull (41 off 33 balls) arrived at the crease and, together with Paul Jordan (32 off 39 balls), put on a superb "pinky and perky" partnership. Together they pulled The Happy Returns back into the match, only for their comeback to falter in the face of some incredible winds and slashing rain. The former triggered a succession of crazy shots and dropped catches, the most amusing of which saw Les position himself under a spiralling top-edge, only to jump out of the way at the last minute when he saw the massive bulk of Ferdi bearing down on him. Aside from giving John a life, this also ended Dave Williams's last-minute charge towards the bowling averages: he had 7 wickets at 7.85 coming into today's game but hadn't bowled enough overs to qualify; what he needed was a couple of overs and a couple of cheap wickets. And he might have had them if that catch had been taken, but in the end Dave had to make do with rather unfair figures of 0/19 but a superb season's return of 7 wickets at 10.57 leaving George Speller (11 wickets at 7.18) top of the pile. At the other end Dave Norman (2/11) was also experiencing mixed fortunes: on the one hand his captain grassed a fairly simple chance of his bowling; but on the other he managed to get John out "hit wicket" when he let go of the bat in his follow-through and sent it crashing into the stumps. This inglorious end notwithstanding, John had at least done enough to give The Happy Returns' bowlers something to defend . . .
. . . an opportunity that never arose, as the rain continued to fall during the inter-innings break and didn't really let up until well after sunset.
That this sunniest of cricket seasons ended with only our third wash-out was either ironic, or poetic, or frustrating - or just was. Whatever, it meant there was plenty of time for a final few post-match pints for the year - or, in Sal's case, her first Pimm's and lemonade, kindly supplied by Andy. There was also a cake, and plenty of merry-making which extended all the way to the third post-cricket curry in as many weeks.