It was time for our annual pilgrimage to Churchill College this evening. And also time for yet another Remnant to unearth their previously hidden literary ability, today's match report coming from our captain, Russell Woolf.
With only 8 players present at match time, Russell was quite relieved when, upon losing the toss, we were invited to bat first. Unfortunately regular opener Dave Williams had taken an unscheduled detour to Fitz and was one of the three players yet to arrive. The problem was solved by promoting George Speller up the order, which didn't seem to have been a great success when he scored just a single run from his first 8 balls. But after that it was carnage as he and Phil put on 129 runs for the first wicket in 13 (six ball) overs. This was achieved primarily by simply smashing the ball all over the place, including, unfortunately, a fielder's knee . . . although after a few moments of anxiety he confirmed he was okay, even if probably had no idea what had hit him. That drama aside, George and Phil continued to gorge themselves on a diet of short-pitched balls that had "hit me" written all over them. After George sailed past fifty the next question was whether Phil could do the same; but the answer was "no" when he was trapped in front of the stumps for an excellent 47 (off 40 balls). Thus the questions were back to George: could he make his first ever century? And again the answer was "no", as he added just one more run after responding in the affirmative when incoming batsman Chris McNeill (6* off 4 balls) had offfered to tell him how many he was on. Still 94 (off just 53 balls) was an awesome effort, not least because it meant he'd done the seemingly impossible by topping the 25-ball 50 he'd smashed last time we played at Churchill. His last 62 runs came from just 28 balls, and towards the end of his innings was a dot-free sequence 4 2 1 6 4 1 1 4 2 1 4 2 3 1 2 2 2 1 4 that yielded 47 runs from just 19 balls. Despite some good late hitting by Richard Rex (10 off 6 balls), the run rate inevitably dropped towards the end of the innings, but our great start was enough to set up the season's highest total, an imposing 172/4.
Opening the bowling for Remnants, Kiran Sakhamuri (2/22) and Julius Rix (1/23) both avoided the trap of bowling too short (as the Churchill bowlers had) and, even more importantly, got a bit lucky. After just one ball, square-leg Phil Hastings indicated to Russ that he thought he should be ten yards finer; Russ agreed and Phil moved . . . and the very next ball had the simplest of catches hit straight to him. After 8 overs of excellent bowling, Churchill were just 48/3 and the match was as good as over. At this point Ben Armitage (0/27) joined the attack, but it just wasn't his day as one Churchill batsman did a "George" on him. Fortunately Andy Owen (1/8), resplendent in his "Hannibal Lecter" facemask, removed said batsman for a well-played 40. Next up was Russell Woolf (3/25), who brought himself on to see if the students could play his "donkey drops"; one ball was sufficient to establish that they could not. After also taking a wicket at the end of one over and another at the beginning of the next, the ever-vigilant Dr Lecter noticed Russ was on a hat trick, and indicated the precise region he should bowl the next ball, which Russ duly did . . . but the batsman calmly blocked out what would have been the hat trick ball. Chris McNeill (2/7) also bowled well, adding a few wickets to his batting cameo, the highlight of which was an official Sally Hales three-star catch from Dr Lec- er, Andy. By this time the final Churchill batsman, a Mr Fish, was at the crease, and there was a barrage of "Who's having a fish supper?" type jokes, the stunning originality of which no doubt delighted said batsman. But in the end it was Russ who took a "battering" as Fish hit him for three boundaries in the final over, giving his team's total a veneer of respectability.
The icing on the cake of a good Remnants performance was some stirling work in the field, with everyone doing their bit and a total of four catches being held. The real hero on this front was 'keeper Rob Harvey, who had not only purchased a set of spiffing new purple gloves for the club, but then used them to remove the bails at every possible opportunity, much to the annoyance of the beleagured Churchill umpires.
Unfortunately the students couldn't retire to the college bar - not as a protest at Rob's 'keeping, but because they had to go off to revise for their up-coming exams (at least that's what they told Dave Green). Happily, the remaining Remnants drank enough for everyone (largely in the form of George's jug) as they celebrated a rather grand victory. And Sally even got to warm herself up with a welcome cup of tea, so it really was the perfect end to the evening.