Where Fitz was under water 24 hours ago, it was drenched in glorious sunshine this afternoon, perfect conditions to take on The Cavendish Laboratory.
At first it seemed it might be perfect conditions for seam bowling - as we restricted the physicists to just 8/0 after 3 overs - but really we'd flattered to deceive, and it was actually perfect conditions for their strong top-order to hit some huge boundaries. Led by a loquacious University 2nd XI player, subsequently revealed to go by the name of Matt Commin, The Cavendish raced along 10 runs per (six-ball) over, making it into triple figures as soon as the twelfth over. Our enthusiam in the field was flagging, and whilst the likes of Quentin Harmer, Nick Clarke and Joe Harvey had made some good stops, we'd dropped all the chances that had come our way (one of which resulted in Dave Green splitting the webbing of his right hand, after which he took no further part in the game). In short we were being battered into submission, and even our pre-match insistence on "no retirements" had come to haunt us as said "Twos" player had raced past his half-century.
At this point Olly Rex was given the ball, being told to ignore his rather dodgy first over earlier in the day and simply bowl as fast as possible - his captain's precise instructions were to "Get him out or knock his block off!" And Olly did just that (the first option, that is), sending down a fiery spell that netted deserved figures of 1/11 and brought us back into the game. Adrian Mellish (2/19) then continued our resurgance as he ran out the other high-scoring batsman (cleverly dropping a return catch from the new batsmen, instead opting to deflect the ball onto the stumps) and then had two of the weaker middle-order caught by 'keeper Rob Harvey. Rob added an excellent stumping to his day's haul, as he made a great take from a deliberate wide ball delivered by Les Collings (2/26). We managed to restrict The Cavendish to less than a run a ball for the last 7 or 8 overs of their innings; however their start was good enough that they still made 156/6.
Still, all hope was not yet lost, as we easily chased down 158 to beat St Barnabas last Wednesday . . . although the difference today was that we were rather short of regular top-order batsmen: take out Nick Clarke, Daniel Mortlock and Richard Rex, and the rest of the team had scored just 29 runs this year at a combined average of 7.25. Nick (43 off 32 balls) led our chase in his typically pugnacious fashion, hitting a few huge sixes, but the key to our effort was the perfect supporting innings played by Paul Jordan (7 off 9 balls), Rob Harvey (24 off 38 balls) and Olly Rex (28 off 24 balls). Between them they took us to 104/2 after 14 overs, and we were in with a real chance: scoring 53 runs off 36 balls wasn't going to be easy, but one or two good overs would be enough to swing the balance in our favour . . .
. . . assuming, of course, that they were good overs for us. Instead what we got was a succession of good overs for The Cavendish, our flickering flame of hope being rather quickly extinguished by a combination of straight balls, straight throws and good catches. Captain Daniel Mortlock led from the front during this period by being bowled first ball - but while he wasn't in the middle long enough to be sledged by any of the fielders, he was subject to "mental disintegration" techniques from both Jess Norman ("Why are you Australian?") and Sally Hales (who, after Joe Harvey was bowled second ball, offered up the consolation that "You lasted longer than some people!"). By the final over Adrian Mellish (0* off 5 balls) and Les Collings (1* off 2 balls) were reduced to the lesser aim of trying to avoid the indignity of being all out. Despite Les's best efforts (coming about five yards down the track to his first ball), we at least managed to last the 20 overs, but we'd lost 7/23 in the last few of them. The overall result was a comfortable Cavendish victory that reflected their superior strength today.
Maybe more important than any on-field goings-on was that it was finally warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a post-match pint, which most members of both teams did, thus also avoiding the 'Britain's Got Talent'-fest in the bar.