Remnants vs. The Pretty Boys

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Fitzwilliam College

The Pretty Boys (175/5 in 15 8-ball overs)
Remnants (136 all out in 14.5 8-ball overs)
by 39 runs.

And now it's over to pretty boy Dave Williams to tell us about Remnants match against The Pretty Boys:

Rabbiting on about names again, for today's match I was thinking about self-styled "pretty" Muhammad Ali's electrifying and pitiless 1967 taunting of Ernie Terrell for his use of Ali's "slave name" Cassius Clay, "What's my name? What's my name?" The Pretty Boys come on like someone out of an Almodovar movie, but we know (don't we?) they're so hyper-macho they wear their name with ease and grace. Two of our very own lovable Remnants, George and Julius, were self-definedly pretty enough to turn out for the oppo, although we would, I'm sure we all agree, prefer to see these two dangerous players turning out for us - more on this later.

All afternoon twenty-two players were scanning the skies for imminent cancellation as continuous heavy clouds rolled overhead. Cheered both by the ever-pessimistic BBC even forecasting sunny spells at 19:00 and by the lavish Fitz covers, when I arrived a full squad of PBs were going through complex and lively coordinated fielding drills. Most of the Remnants, however, seemed to be focused on some particularly interesting topic of conversation and contrived to position themselves to show they wanted to avoid being hit by that hard red thing, called a ball.

George won the toss, and the PBs decided to bat. An excellent start from Joe at the Huntingdon Road end saw 8 balls whizz past the bat at good height off a length: a maiden. Olly Rex pitched in shorter to find the ball sitting up and eminently hittable, but a mis-hit pull top-edged to Joe at slip. Unlike the Coton away match, where their etiquette required that George come in number 8, for the PBs no such scruple holds: George came to the wicket in the second over. Joe was keeping good control for his excellent 0/15, but George started to move up through the gears and take toll on Olly (1/29). Ferdie was brought on, potentially like half a lamb for the Linton tigers; 17 off the first five balls brought the excellent comeback of three immaculate dots stoutly defended by Mr Speller for an unusual lull in his whirlwind. Ferdie showed stirling character in sticking to his work for his 0/40. Nick came on for a single-over Watsonian essay in hyper-slowness, alas going for 17; John Moore's two overs went for 35 but also the scalp of the remaining opener. George by this time had started reaching maximum velocity, including a massive six thoughtfully placed so it rebounded off the sightscreen and didn't need foraging for in the undergrowth; another one smashed through the wooden fencing on the Eachard Road side into the footpath.

By the time I was called on to bowl, George's body language was giving (at least in retrospect) evidence of imminent explosion, a bit like the computer in The Prisoner when Patrick McGoohan punches in the question "Why?", or the bit in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life where the malicious waiter John Cleese feeds the gluttonous Terry Jones "a wafer-thin mint" and takes cover before the inevitable blowout. As if in frustration that he can only drive his own cricketing Koenigsegg at a mere 270 mph, George - aided, I like to think, by some gentle away cutters - took some sighters at steepling off-drives off the edge before eventually finding John Moore halfway to long off, running in, juggling once and then pouching. Much smiling all round, George gone for (only) 90. If any advice is possible to one so talented, if George could remember to limit his swashbuckling exuberance once he reaches fourth gear he would certainly pass 100 - apparently and amazingly never yet achieved.

My own adrenalin was pumping round by now, giving rise to what might be called an optimistic LBW appeal of Alex Ferguson "hairdryer" intensity sufficient to remove the umpire's headgear/glasses/toupee. It was certainly plumb in front, the only problem being that the batsman hit it with the bat. Much amusement all round. (My right eye not too good these days.) My last over was a dog, a Bassett's (allsorts) over duly clubbed for 2 . 6 4 4 4 . by Julius for his rapid 27, like a Verne Troyer mini-me to George's Dr Evil. Ev pulled off a great stumping off the last for my 3-36, but much damage had been done: 175/5 all told.

Richard Rex is the unwitting and unwilling beneficiary of the first use of video technology in a Remnants match ...

The Remnants reply was undaunted and progressed, at least for the first 10 overs, at a good 10 runs per over, with Nick blasting 36 (off 26 balls) and Olly Rex stylish and excellent again for his 20 (off 14 balls), including a sublime Gower-like late cut behind square. Joe played a powerful and statesmanlike 35 (off 32 balls), Ollie Clarke bustling and pulling to good effect for 11 (off 15 balls). John Young magnanimously went for a difficult run but was run out for 0 (off 3 balls). Julius in the field for the PBs was like a whippet on amphetamines, although within easy barracking distance from the pavilion. Olly may have snicked a catch to the keeper, but I didn't hear it; what I did hear, however, was a sotto voce but good-humoured "No, it was LBW" from a PB. As the sun finally peeked out behind the thick grey clouds our hopes caved in: we were all out off the fifth ball of the last over.

A big ask for the final over ...

Still, we had at least had a go, even if it was always going to be an uphill struggle. If any more reasons for sticking to the Remnants "no retirement" policy were necessary, today was another: a brilliant batsman, at the top of his game, is a force of nature like an eagle gliding on the updraught from a mountain valley, or an orca shaking a seal in its jaws as if it was a dog playing with a bone. It may not be comfortable to watch if you are on the receiving end, but you (if you are a cricketer, that is) will have a fund of stories and inspirations afterwards. The Remnants faded back into the teeteringly autumnal night, but the PBs tonight even in the bar were a solid unit through and through.