Remnants vs. John Hill's XI

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (120/5 in 14 8-ball overs)
lost to
John Hill's XI (121/3 in 13.7 8-ball overs)
by 7 wickets.

Today's Remnants match was organised in honour of ex-Fitzwilliam groundsman John Hill, who provided the club with the home it enjoys to this day and who has also been our president for a number of years. John died earlier this year after losing his battle against cancer, and so the proceeds from today's game (from a BBQ and a raffle) would be donated to the Gloucester Royal Hospital's Gloucestershire Chest Fund. It was a very appropriate tribute and a great idea, and even the fact that it all hinged on the weather didn't seem to be a worry given that we've had 19 matches this season without even a sniff of a wash-out (well, okay, the Fen Ditton game was a close-run thing). And so you just knew that today's weather was going to be truly awful. Every hour or so Cambridge was submerged under a torrential downpour, and encumbent Fitz groundsman Dave Norman fended off calls from worried cricketers at about the same frequency. And yet he told them all the same thing: now there are proper covers in place, anything short of a match-time deluge and play will generally go ahead. And so it turned out: the start was delayed by a brief shower, and we had to go off for ten minutes half-way through, but the pitch survived and there was plenty of time to play a near full-length match and eat millions of hamburgers.

Remnants batted first as John Hill's XI took to the field, and for the first hour it was the Dave Williams show. It was almost as if we wanted to take his chance to make runs before what felt like an inevitable wash-out, and he smacked the ball all over the park on his way to 66 (off 53 balls). While Tom Serby (14 off 17 balls), Martin Law (10 off 8 balls, before being brilliantly caught by opposition captain Andy Owen, who'd moved into place the ball before) and Andrew Lea (15* off 14 balls) all provided valuable support, Dave's influence was demonstrated by the fact that Remnants scored at 9.50 runs per (eight-ball) over up to his dismissal and just 6.25 per over afterwards. The overall result was that a possibly impregnable total of 140-odd became a decidedly more pregnable target of 120/5.

Still, after Oliver Rex (0/16) and Russell Woolf (1/12) both bowled impeccable spells, a Remnants loss was the third most likely result after a comforable win and, the hot favourite, an abandonment. Most of our time in the field was spent being soaked by rain that really was too heavy to keep playing in, but neither the captains nor the umpires acted decisively, so we stayed out there in mutual agreement that it was "absurd" and "crazy". After John Moore took a great outfield catch (with the ball now so slippery that it was nigh on impossible to hold, let alone grab), John Hill's XI had been reduced to 65/3 off 10 overs. With the requirement now a seemingly impossible 56 off 32 balls and the rain being resolutely ignored, surely nothing could prevent Remnants arresting its four-match losing streak?

There was one thing, it turns out, and that's the classic club bug-bear: yet another Remnant lifting his game when playing for the opposition. Remnants has fallen victim to this sort of treachery on numerous occasions, with Phil Watson batting us into submission not once, but twice in 2001, The Cavendish thrashing us later that year thanks to our own batsmen's efforts, Nick Clarke leading a young Fen Ditton side to victory against us in 2006, Fathers And Sons employing half a dozen Remnants to beat us in 2006 as well, and George Speller murdering our bowling for his Coton overlords last year. Today it was Daniel Mortlock turning to the dark side: his strike-rate for Remnants this year has been a dismal 81.65 and he hasn't passed 32 in an innings; today he made mercilessly good use of the fact that the bowlers could barely hold the ball to smack 39* off 21 balls, including a "telephone number" sequence of 6 2 6 4 2 2 4 3 at one stage. (The first of the sixes followed Daniel's complaint that he couldn't see the rather discoloured ball that was being used at that point; when the umpires refused to change it he took matters into his own hands.) With a total of 43 runs coming from the 11th and 12th overs, the stiff target had been reduced to a stroll, just 13 runs being required off the final 16 deliveries. Despite the best efforts of Joe White (0/28, having been reduced to bowling off-spin off two paces), the winning run was duly hit from the penultimate ball of the game.

As the old saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished", and so it was today, our determined efforts to play out this game for a good cause resulting in the club's fifth consecutive loss. This means the season's balance-sheet is worryingly, er, balanced, our 19 external matches having yielded 9 wins, 9 losses and 1 tie. From a broader point of view, however, the evening was most definitely a success, the delicious BBQ and nutty raffle combining to raise GBP 200 for The Gloucestershire Chest Fund. For this, thanks to everyone who turned up and participated, but particularly: Dave Norman, who allowed his square to be cut up in the rain; Andrew Northrop Butchers, who sold us the bangers and burgers at cost price; Mickey Flynn's American Pool Hall and ??? Hairdressers, who donated raffle prizes; Sophie and Jess Norman, who administered said raffle (even if there was a double-counting scandal at one point); and, most of all, Andy Owen, for making the whole thing happen.