Report by Daniel Mortlock:
We had hopes of playing either St Barnabas or Little Paxton today, but both teams had other matches this week and so couldn't commit to the fixture, leaving us with the fail-safe option of an internal game between Remnants proper and Geoff Hales's Travelling Theatre XI. Given that it's nominally a one-man show, it should really have been Geoff single-handedly taking on the rest of the club (which is how it must sometimes feel when Monday's "I can't play" calls start to come in), but in the end he took the inclusive route of opening up selection to anyone who'd ever watched him perform (and no, that does not imply a six-a-side game).
The Travelling Theatre batted first, but struggled to score, at least initially, as none of Faruk Kara (14), Oliver Rex (13) or Dave Williams (10) could get going. Not even George Speller, who's destroyed bowling attacks all year, could save the situation, being bowled by Julius Rix for an atypically sedate 18. That left Andy Owen, Romsey's "fixer", to rescue the situation, but he was well stumped by Chris McNeill for a duck off the bowling of a delighted Russell Woolf. Good bowling by Julius (2/15), Russell (1/25), Quentin Harmer (1/16) and Adrian Mellish (2/13) had kept The Travelling Theatre to just 64/4 off 14 (six-ball) overs, and a rather short match seemed likely. Indeed, the main interest was no longer in the match itself, but in the race to top the bowling averages for the year, as Russell (20 wickets at 13.25), Quentin (10 wickets at 12.80) and Adrian (12 wickets at 7.17) were the top three by the end of their spells today.
But then The Travelling Theatre got themselves back into the game with a combination of experience (140 game veteran Ev Fox) and innocence (Edmund Rex, in his first game for the club). Ev played well, if calmly, for 34 while Edmund went on the rampage, smashing three sixes of brother Henry (1/23 from his one over) and finishing the innings by lofting the final ball (delivered by his dad, Richard) miles into the neighbouring gardens. Edmund was clapped of the field with 29* but, more importantly, he'd rescued the match by lifting his team's total to a competitive 125/6.
The Remnants chase began with solid assurity, as old hands Martin Law and old legs Nick Clarke put together a surely match-winning opening partnership of 87. The Travelling Theatre's bowlers seemed impotent to stop their steady march to victory, with Oliver Rex (0/18) and Paul Jordan (0/21) both dealt with comfortably.
Remnants finally made a breakthrough courtesy of Dave Green (1/19), who had Martin caught by 'keeper Ev Fox for 48. Any thoughts that Dave might run through the opposition line-up were, however, tempered when, in his own words, "I pulled my glutious maximus (bum) again, and had to go off . . . and once I left the field, things went a lot better for Travelling Theatre." The key difference now was that the scoring slowed down as Andy Owen (0/14, unlucky to go wicketless when Nick played on but didn't dislodge a bail), Dave Williams (also 0/14) and John Young (0/4) were able to contain Nick and prevent the new batsmen, Richard Rex, from getting his eye in. But, even after George Speller bowled Richard (for 11) and completed a rare wicket-maiden, Remnants were still in pretty good shape at 119/2 after 19 overs. It is here that we pick up the commentary:
Remnants now need 7 runs from the final 6 deliveries of the match and have to be favourites. The Travelling Theatre do have two things in their favour, though: Nick Clarke, scoring freely on 44, is at the non-striker's end; and George Speller will be bowling with the confidence that only figures of 1/0 can bring, so he just needs a repeat of his first over.
So George Speller wins the game with probably the most remarkable spell in Remnants history: . . . W . . | W W . W W W, which adds up to 2 overs, 2 maidens, 6/0, including a hat-trick. Its only serious rival as the greatest bowling in the club's history is Paul Jordan's oft-mentioned 7/8 against Unwin's in 1990, but there's something about the perfection of not conceding even one run that's hard to beat.
To add to the fun, George's spell also took him up to second place in the bowling averages, with 11 wickets at 7.18, just 0.01 behind Adrian. The one thing that didn't go right for George tonight (not that one can imagine him caring) was the batting: his cheap dismissal and Nick's undefeated 44 mean that there's now daylight between the two of them at the top of the batting averages, with Nick (461 runs at 57.62) miles ahead of George (303 runs at 43.29) and Dave Williams (433 runs at 36.08). The only people who can upset Nick now are Daniel Mortlock (191 runs at 63.67) and Phil Hastings (140 runs at 46.67) although because of the rather dubious qualification criterion (that a batsman must have been dismissed four times) they can only rise above Nick's current average if they score 40 and 91, respectively, for once out.