We were supposed to be playing Mott-MacDonald today - with the fixture confirmed several months in advance it meant Geoff could sit back and relax, with only the trivial task of team-selection to be done. But when MottMac cancelled (citing a league replay, although it's not clear why that should negate their prior commitment to play us) all our plans were thrown into disarray, as we suddenly had to find an opposition with just a week's notice. For a while it seemed we'd be able to organise a return match again Little Paxton - their secretary, Wayne Huttly, moved mountains as he valiantly tried to get a team together; but in the end they couldn't get past "six and a couple of maybes", so we'll have to wait 'til 2010 to play them again. The next contingency was Romsey Town, which was fine in principle but, given the number of players common to the two teams, meant that Geoff, Andy and Daniel had to spend the weekend getting the numbers up from eleven to twenty-two. On this score they succeeded, only to be faced with a miserable forecast (see below) that proved to be sadly accurate as Cambridge was subject to near-continuous rain for most of the day. In past seasons the match would have been called off at about noon, but now that Fitz has covers we were in with a chance provided only that it didn't rain after 3pm. And, though nobody could quite believe it, the rain stopped at almost exactly the required time, which meant that twenty cricketers - there were the inevitable couple of drop-outs - arrived at Fitz to see the ground positively sparkling in the afternoon sunshine (although that was largely due to the reflections from the two-inch deep puddle in front of the clubhouse).
Remnants took to the field first, and had the upper hand for most of the innings as Les Collings (0/13), Julius Rix (0/19), Tom Jordan (1/20) and Joe White (0/25) kept Romsey to just 64/1 after 11 (eight-ball) overs. Dave Williams (2/19) looked set to drive the final nails into the Romsey coffin when he took two wickets in his first over, although this had the unfortunate effect of bringing in Daniel Mortlock, who continued his stirling anti-Remnants form by smiting 30* off just 13 balls. With fellow traitor Nick Clarke also accelerating to 57* off 56 balls (despite being barely able to walk) we were suddenly faced with a potentially challenging late-season total of 128/3.
Still, we only needed fractionally more than a run a ball, so we should at least have been able to get close to our target. That we didn't was partly due to some tight Romsey bowling (including spells of 2/5 and 2/8 by soon-to-be-excommunicated Remnants Oliver Rex and Daniel, respectively) but primarily down to our own inability to get the ball off the square. Of the top order only Tom Jordan (15) and Mike Sneyd (15*) got into double figures, albeit only by essaying numerous forward defensives (in direct contravention of the order to "have a look for two balls and then try and smash everything" that was issued by their increasingly frustrated captain). The "dot monster" had taken over to such a degree that we were just 44/4 after 11 overs, after which the only remaining question was the degree of our humiliation.
In the end the final total wasn't quite as embarrassing as it might have been, although this was only really due to some late slogging by Joe White (21* off about 10 balls) in the gloom. Really it was just a miniature version of Chris Broad and Graham Swann's spectacular but futile efforts when they hit a few late runs at Headingly on the weekend, and 86/6 from 120 balls was still a pretty depressing total. The only times we've scored less this year were in bowler-friendly conditions at Pembroke and against a dominant Granta side at Clare. Today there was just no excuse - even the fact it was dark doesn't cut the mustard, as it was even harder for the fielders (of which there were only ten) to pick up the ball coming off the bat.
Today's abject defeat notwithstanding, we're still up for the season, with 13 wins to 12 losses, and with just 2 external games remaining (against Richard Rex's Academicals next Tuesday and against Tektronics a week later) we need just one more win to ensure we finish in the black. Previous evidence seemed to suggest that we could have guaranteed the necessary victory by nobbling Dave Williams in at least one of these games, but tonight's result destroyed the theory of the Williams number, as we lost despite Dave scoring less than 40. Given that we can't even rely on self-sabotage it seems we'll just have to score some runs instead . . .