This was about as "must win" as it gets. Aside from it being the last external Remnants game of Geoff's thirty-year tenure as club secretary, we suddenly had more losses than wins for the year when our heroic efforts to provide Romsey Town with a replacement opposition on Saturday backfired. We needed to exploit every little advantage we could get tonight, a process that began when the two (substitute) captains headed out for the toss and the Tektronix deputy asked to play by what seem to be common "technology company" rules (i.e., retirements at 30 and no extra balls but two runs for wides and no balls, as in The Technology Partnership game). Whilst these might represent a worrying departure from "proper" cricket, they have an obvious utility in these friendly games, and they actually suited us in several ways this evening. First, their argument that "we've got a couple of batsmen who'll bat forever if they get in", was just what we wanted to hear, as the last time that claim was made by an opposition team we bowled them out for 64. Second, we had an incredibly long batting line-up, so we weren't going to have to rely on one or two big hitters making half-centuries to post a decent total. Our batting strength also meant that we were desperate to set a target, and our general tardiness almost meant we had to bat first due to having too few players present to field, although in the end we got our wish by the more conventional method of winning the toss.
The early signs, however, weren't very good, as Tektronix unveiled a seemingly limitless supply of fast, accurate bowlers who were just a little bit too good for us - one of their openers coming away with deserved figures of 2/3 from a full spell. Andy Owen cut and nurdled his way to retirement with a dogged 30* (off 36 balls), but none of the other top-order batsmen really got going, and we had just 52/3 after 10 (eight-ball) overs.
Fortunately Tektronix's third-change bowlers finally provided a few loose balls (and some double-value wides), and Joe White (17 off 16 balls), Tom Serby (27* off 14 balls, before retiring hurt) and Ev Fox (14* off 14 balls) were able to capitalise to such a degree that we scored 73 runs from the last 40 deliveries of our innings.
While we had a reasonable total to defend, it was hardly the impregnable 160+ target we'd hoped for, and we had to hope that the Tektronix batsmen weren't quite up to the standard set by their bowlers. Early doors it was touch and go, with Joe White (1/19) and Oliver Rex (1/15) both making breakthroughs while their batsmen scored at just under a run a ball. At 58/4 after 8.4 overs Tektronix needed a further 68 runs from 60 balls the match was in the balance.
Which made a stark contrast to Daniel Mortlock, who'd lost his equilibrium and gone "on tilt" with entertaining, if mixed, results. It all began when Olly Rex induced a leading edge that looped straight back down the pitch, and moved calmly into position to take the return catch . . . only for Daniel to come barrelling in from mid-wicket screaming "Mine! Mine!" in a highly deranged fashion. Olly, to his credit, stood his ground and completed the catch even as Daniel clawed at the ball, dragging his unkempt fingernails across Olly's clenched fists in the process. A few balls later yet another thick edge off Joe's bowling had been well stopped at third man by our Tektronix substitute fielder, Neil, who then heeded calls for a relay throw to Daniel at point; Daniel, in turn, heeded Andy Owen's call that a run out was on at the bowler's end, and he turned and threw in one swift motion . . . only to immediately see that the ball was veering way off-target. He immediately began deflecting the blame for the muffed opportunity by berating Joe for not being over the bowler's stumps; however the ball took two kind bounces off the bumpy ground and obligingly bobbled into middle stump with the batsman (one-time Remnants substitute Luke Perera) still several yards short of his ground. It was somehow inevitable that Daniel would get a bowl next, but the main result of this was just some highly vocal frustration that the batsmen were able to hit the ball so hard and that the fieders were unable to stop it flying across the boundary. This was rather ironic, as overall our fielding was exceptional: Olly Rex made some fantastic stops at point (where he took a second, unmolested, catch); Richard Rex and Julius Rix were awesome on the long square boundary; and Daves Williams and Green saved lots of runs with tireless chases after big drives. One of these chases resulted in another relay throw via Daniel, who tried to repeat his earlier trick and, flukily, was on target again . . . although this time the batsman had just scraped home. But the idea of sending the ball towards the stumps as fast as possible had a certain appeal, and Daniel finally found an effective outlet for his "energies" by sending down some straight deliveries, the result of which was three batsmen bowled in four balls, tidy figures of 3/19, and instant banishment to the boundary to calm down.
Not to be outdone in the drama stakes, Tony Malik then unleashed his full variety of deliveries at the other end as he huffed and puffed his way to 1/11, although he stopped short of the full "gotcha" ball. But the main thing was that the batsmen were unable to get into any sort of rhythm against his bowling, and by the end of his spell we'd decisively killed off Tektronix's challenge. Andy Owen (0/5), Julius Rix (1/4) and Richard Rex (0/9) performed the "mopping up" duties admirably as - implausibly given our situation a third of the way through the game - we ended up winning handsomely by 39 runs.
There were drinks all round as most of the Tektronix guys stayed after the game to discuss the spelling of the team name and the difficulties of batting second at Fitz this season. For our part there was a sense of relief that we'd managed to even up our ledger, as tonight's win left Remnants at fourteen-all (plus a tie, a wash-out, an abandonment and a cancellation) in external games for the season, with only tomorrow's internal fixture to come.