It was supposed to be day off for Remnants (as all Saturdays are), but when Romsey Town's opponents, Granta's fifth (!) team, forfeited on the Friday night we suddenly found ourselves called into action. After plenty of frantic calling and e-mailing a pretty representative Remnants XI was assembled, with only the slight over-representation of Rexes even hinting that this was a last-minute side. The format agreed upon was a mini-Test match, with each side getting two twenty-over innings and the result going on the aggregate score; and, not long after the appointed starting time of 1:30pm, play began.
Remnants batted first and trundled along in a fairly relaxed manner, Nick Clarke's storming 37 off 30 balls just about making up for John Gull's uncharacteristicly slow 10 off 25 balls. After a bit of a middle-order collapse we finally began some serious acceleration when Tom Serby clubbed 47 off 33 balls to see us to 129/6 in our first innings.
Things clicked much better in the field as captain Russell Woolf, having ascertained that it was better to take the pace off the ball, led from the front with a superb spell of 4/13. He took 3 wickets in 4 balls at one point, to have Romsey in all sorts of trouble at 28/5 after 7 (six-ball) overs. Nick Clarke (1/14), Ferdinand Rex (1/17) and Daniel Mortlock (2/21) all kept the pressue on, and in the end we secured a 17-run first innings lead over a rather ragged-looking Romsey side.
We then mirrored England's efforts in the fifth Test, as both teams endeavoured to bat their respective oppositions out of the match. Unfortunately we struggled where England (also unfortunately) succeeded - if only it had been the other way around! John Young made a careful 25 (off 40 balls, before giving up on the grounds that he was "knackered") in slow partnerships with Rexes Maximus (12 off 10 balls), Henry (26 off 20 balls) and Ferdinand (13 off 21 balls) while the rest of the side kept offering up encouragement in the form of wild calls to "keep running!". After another middle-order collapse we suddenly had the two batsman at the top of the averages (Nick with 510 runs at 46.36 and Daniel with 213 runs at 53.25) out in the middle and it seemed reasonable to think that at least one of them would make a big score . . . but instead they contributed a grand total of 7 runs between them, thus allowing the absent George Speller (303 runs at 43.29) to ascend to the top of the pile. Our collapse continued to the point where only some late hitting by John Gull (a more representative 10 off 7 balls) and Tom Serby (5* off 8 balls) even got us to triple figures.
Whereas we should have been able to set Romsey a target of 150+, they were instead faced with an eminently chaseable 132 for victory, and somehow it never felt we were going to prevent them scoring the required runs (despite keeping them to just 112 an hour earlier). Of the bowlers only Ferdie Rex (1/9) improved on his first innings efforts, although Noel Mellish (Adrian's dad, visiting in preparation for his 66th birthday tomorrow) delivered some superb out-swingers that were harshly represented by figures of 0/25. In the field it was also a case of "almost, but not quite", with lots of fumbles and dropped catches, even if most of the missed chances were on the difficult side. That said, Johns Young and Gull both took stunning outfield catches, and Daniel kept his head to effect a calm run out when the batsmen got themselves in a muddle, but these little highlights were like diamonds in the mud of a fairly insipid effort. In the end it was no surprise that the winning runs came after yet another misfield, although with ten balls still remaining there was no question that we'd been well and truly beaten.
As has been stated before, no good Remnants deed seems to go unpunished, and our reward for filling the gap left by Granta today was for our season's ledger to go back into the red, with our 13 wins not quite matching our 14 losses in external games this year. Not that there's anything riding on this (bar Geoff's well-being, perhaps), but it's doubly frustrating given that two of the losses came when we assembled last-minute sides and also that we had two teams forfeit against us (which maybe we should count as victories?). Either way, Tuesday's game against Tektronics is now an absolute must-win if we're to see out Geoff's secretarial tenure in style.