Dave Williams was one of the hardy souls who braved the elements to take on Fen Ditton this evening, and had this to say about the day:
Imagine, if you will, a day of leaden skies and pelting rain. Remnants are in "headless chicken" mode, trying to find a head who will tell them if the match is on or not. Clare College? The match would have been off at 10 am. Fitz? Dave would have cut a strip on the outfield. Fen Ditton? No idea. (What the club needs is a contact person who is known to the opposition and is the proud owner of a mobile phone and/or an e-mail address?) Like a Gramscian organic intellectual possessed of pessimism of mind and optimism of the will, we all set off in hope, to find - against all odds - the chugging of the Fen Ditton roller as it smoothed down the sodden strip. Also, to boot, eleven Remnants (including Faruk as uber-dutiful twelfth man for his first outing in over two years) and a full opposition. They didn't have a match at home for two weeks, so the match could go ahead safe in the knowledge that there'd be plenty of time to repair any damage done to the wicket today.
Captain Russell Woolf, after losing the toss, gave Joe White and Mick Watson the job of spearheading the Remnants attack. To general surprise, the bounce was generally true - if rather skiddy - as were the run ups. After a few balls off his full run-up ended up in a potential (and potentially dangerous) triple salchow, Joe dropped his pace while still getting good carry to Rob Harvey behind the stumps. Mick the other end was getting high lift from generally short deliveries, but conceded a few boundaries to a dangerous-looking Fen Ditton left-hander.
At around this point the rain started again; a trial of a few balls in the downpour was not well received, so we trooped off to the pavilion to watch the sogginess and the laying out of a de luxe tea for the FD sponsors. After 15 minutes a few people went out "to see what it was like" (i.e., raining), but this seemed to encourage an improvement in the conditions, and so was soon resumed.
Russell, bowling first change, let loose a Warney-style grunt as he delivered his first ball, which the bemused left-hander had at least two goes at whacking to kingdom come, only to find his bails had been knocked off. The grunt, apparently, came from the surprise of the slide of Russ's leading foot in his delivery stride, a rare case of the bowler at first slip. Tom Jordan (second change) was struggling to grip the greasy ball and found it difficult to hit length, although one superb ball though spat off the pitch on to the shoulder of the bat, only to loop past the poetically positioned (euphemism alert!) Paul Jordan at slip. The balletic flailing of his arms was, he assured us afterwards, not actually a drop because he didn't touch the ball. Our eventual nemesis, Fen Diton's skipper Adam, came in and started biffing the ball through midwicket, though a leading edge off Russ spooned up to a previously mentioned fielder who, with considerable sang froid, stylishly dropped the chance. After this Adam upped the ante, and from a sluggish 66/2 off 10 (eight-ball) overs Fen Ditton somehow managed to more than double their total by scoring 78 runs from their final 40 balls. The Remnants fielding and field placings were looking frankly ropey; we could have done with a bit more cover on the leg-side, where John Young was valiantly struggling to return the ball after it had either thundered across or sailed over the boundary. Over 14 was a chance for John Moore to recover his form after a spell of lowered confidence, but what chance did he have against a batsman in full spate? A savage 32 off the over followed, leaving Remnants to chase an imposing target of 144.
Dave Williams (45) and Mike Sneyd (27) started with good composure and pace, finding the bumpy outfield gave poor value for shots compared to the lush pastures of Oxford Road. Mike started to find his straight drive groove as well as intelligently dropped the ball into space for easy singles; Dave was more aggressive, trying to pull off-side balls through to leg to the short boundary with mixed success. A purposeful platform was duly built, ending on 71 when Mike holed out in the 9th over. Tom Jordan (22*) came in and cleverly pushed the ball around from the first ball he received, and Dave was now starting to hit sixes rather than just fours, so was there a chance that we could pull off an unlikely victory?
No, is the short answer - in the gathering gloom a weary Dave smote one about 50 metres up in the air, which was eventually caught by the ubiquitous Adam off his own bowling about 5 metres from the batsman's end (euphemism alert!). With 30-odd balls to go and 45 runs needed, John Young (2) stepped up against his former teammates, but in spite of Tom's impressive and aggressive shot playing, we just didn't have the extra gear or two we needed to see us home against a very tricky target.
Still, the main thing was that we got a game at all; that it was played out against a sporting and good-natured (while still competitive) opposition was a bonus. So with the feel-good factor and endorphins coursing round, some tired but happy-ish Remnants retired to The King's Head to watch England ritualistically beat the socks off Andorra in their World Cup qualifier.