Little Paxton made a return visit to Cambridge to exact revenge for their defeat at Churchill last year. Despite the oppressive clouds and the constant threat of rain, they got their chance, as Dave Williams reports:
George Speller, captaining Remnants for the second time this year, won the toss and decided to bat, sending in Tom Serby and John Young to begin proceedings. But after a couple of tight overs, John mysteriously came off, retired hurt for 2* (off 6 balls), despite no obvious injury. The explanation was that he was struggling to balance, due to the effects of a cold on his Eustachian tubes (which finally rate a mention on this web-site after a decade of being ignored). Luckily John felt better later and could field - and drive home - without any further problems.
In came Dave Williams (21 off 17 balls) and glided a wide one down to third man first ball. Tom Serby, playing freely round the wicket, and Dave, executing some powerful and stylish front-foot drives through cover, started to dominate, with the score reaching 48/0 in the fifth (eight-ball) over. But then Dave perished playing what ended up looking like an ugly hoik over the top of a short slowish and straight one, and George Speller (2 off 6 balls), atypically, struggled before holing out to mid-on. Tom finally found an able partner in Andy Owen (21 off 22 balls), who came in and played a valuable and highly, er, "Owenesque" innings, scoring exclusively in an 180 degree leg-side arc between the finest of glides past first slip and mid on. A heavy-bottom-hand six over square leg was a standout feature in an innings also exhibiting Andy's trademark exponential crescendo scoring rate.
Tom Serby, meanwhile, was powerfully straight-driving, and brought up his 50 - was a total of 150 in sight? Tom Jordan (13* off 12 balls) joined his namesake and showed excellent timing and whippy wrists to force the ball through extra cover for an early four, but perhaps he could have played more off straight to get the ball away from the well-defended mid-off to mid-on sector. Still, 137/3 represented a good pacy team batting effort, highlighted by a fine contribution of 63* (off 55 balls) from the masterly Serby.
Messrs Bryan Lea (0/20) and Russell Woolf (1/14) began our defense and were initially miserly - Little Paxton were just 20/0 after the 4 overs in the grey light. Tigerish Remnants fielding (three words not often seen together) and placing the right people in the right positions (credit to George) were helping exert real pressure. Adrian Mellish (1/18) and Paul Jordan (0/24) seemed short of confidence and were comparatively expensive, as Little Paxton came back into contention. Paul had been unlucky as a high pull to the short square leg boundary slipped through Adie's hands and might have been caught at second attempt as it bounced up off his chest (but even if the catch wasn't taken, Adie was at least not getting dressed at the time). At the end of the ninth over they had 73 on the board and were looking dangerous, but the 11th over was decisive: Andy Owen (1/6) came on and consistently beat the bat of their straight-hitting number three, bowling with good pace, accuracy and length. John Moore (0/25), struggled to find his rhythm, as Little Paxton looked to smash everything, but by this time it was too little too late, as an implausible 44 were needed off 16 balls.
Tom Jordan (1/8) came on in improving light to conclude the game with cameo over; but, in fact, it may have been his heroic efforts out on the long boundary in front of the pavilion that were decisive in the final outcome. Covering a 90 degree quadrant from wide mid-on to backward square leg, his pace in the field and strength of throw turned twos into ones and fours into twos; he was covering the territory of three normal Remnants fielders and probably saved the team around 20 runs. And given that we only won by 19, it was literally a match-winning contribution in the field.
So that's a hat trick of wins for Remnants this year, and an overall record of 2-0 against Little Paxton . . . although we've also had home ground - or at least home town - advantage for both those games, whereas we'll be heading out to Paxtons for our next encounter, in mid-July.