Report by Dave Williams:
Those of us whose hearing doesn't go much beyond 3000 Hz will not groan too much that the sibilants of the acronym of today's oppo (er, the 'F' sounds like an 'S') invite the pun 'Who's Dare's wins'. Putting it another way, Barry Dare's young guns and old 'uns are a fearsome combo of ability and experience and always require the Remnants to raise their game. Add a sprinkling of Remnants (Rob, Faruk and Joe) to the opposing personnel and you have the ingredients for an excellent-spirited and high standard game that is always a pleasure to play, win or (most often) lose.
The forecast rain held off to leave the ground dry and fast. The cloud cover and humidity was dense enough to avoid the micro-turbulence of air currents that comes from sun on ground; these, according to Brian Wilkins, The Bowler's Art, "break up the otherwise steady airflows that make swing possible". In other words, Nick Clarke's decision to bat brought him and Tom Serby in against a lively pace attack, the left-arm into-the-wind bowler getting substantial swing both ways. In-form Tom holed out cheaply, chipping their faster bowler gently to mid off. Nick played as pugnaciously as ever for his 23 before top-edging a pull into his forehead and way up into the air, duly caught by Rob Harvey with the gloves on for FAS. Luckily he was only momentarily dazed and could duly walk off, displaying the imprint of the ball's stitching on his forehead. Phil Hastings perished to Joe off a thin edge behind for 7, and Tom Jordan found Joe's pace and length difficult to connect with, at least in a front-front driving groove. Faruk for FAS came on from the Windsor Road end and took a sharp caught-and-bowled off Dave Williams (23) in his second over. The rate at this time was about 8 an over, giving a very strong Remnants batting line-up (featuring D. Norman and A. Owen, inter alia) a chance to kick on. FAS came back strongly, though, and forced dangerman Dave into comparatively defensive mood, at least compared with last week. Dave started moving up through the gears as Bryan (1 off 5 balls) and Tom Serby (4 off 4 balls) came and went. Dave N.'s trademark big punches through the arc between extra cover and long on started to bisect the fielders as usual, but the aerial route didn't quite come off for Dave today; after a drop in front of the pavilion he perished in the final over on the very long boundary down the hill, for a superb 60-odd off probably 40-something. Paul Jordan came in to partner Andy for a splendidly altruistic 0 (run out) without facing, and Dave Green managed an equally prolific non-knock 0* off 0 as Andy (8 off 8 balls) saw us home for a competitive but certainly not dominating 155/5.
The Jordanians, Paul and Tom, opened the bowling. In his second over Paul managed one of his trademark deliveries that appears to go through the bat before knocking off the bails. We've seen it once, we've seen it fifty times - how does he do it? His 3 overs went for 24 runs, with 1 wicket. Tom was getting turn and bounce, bowling 4 overs on the trot, getting his wicket by finding the outside edge, neatly taken by the diving Tom Serby behind the stumps. After 6 overs FAS were about 30 for 2, struggling a bit. The FAS young guns were now in, running hard between the wickets and putting pressure on the Remnants in the field. Andy's first two overs were tight, but the increasingly pressurized FAS batsmen got his third away for a few and were starting to look dangerous.
(However Joe White, playing for FAS, reveals that there was a bit more to Andy's spell: "It was the first ball of Andy Owen's over and I think Paul, who was fielding on the boundary, was still recounting a story to some onlookers in the pavilion. The ball was duly chipped precisely to where he would have been on the boundary leading to him dashing out of the pavilion just too late to intercept the ball. Andy was . . . impressed.)
Dave Norman bowled 3 from the Windsor Road end, getting some welly in his third from the stylish and powerful FAS men at the crease. Nick Clarke was putting men right back around the boundary, allowing easy singles but attempting the Owenesque "slow strangle" field placement technique. With the obvious candidates for defensive bowling already finished, who would Nick turn to? Up to the oche stepped Phil Hastings, down-wind from the Huntingdon Road end. Whether it was the wind, or the adrenalin, or just the hidden power, but Phil bowled one at lively pace that caught the FAS batsman by surprise; his edge flew to Tom behind the stumps, who proceeded to knock it up in the air, juggle with it on the way down but eventually take the catch. Later that over, a pull to the midwicket boundary in front of the pavilion was ably taken by a cool Matt Hughes. This was a prelude to Matt's first over of slow leg spin. Coming in off the shortest of runs, Matt's first over was economical, but he ended up conceding 26 runs from his 2 overs. Phil Hastings (3/21) got a trio of wickets and went close inducing a fourth when he induced a big top edge that went in the direction of Paul on the midwicket boundary. Paul thus had his chance for redemtion, and stepped back to catch the ball at kneecap height (I don't know why he didn't try it a chest height) but only managed both to step over the boundary and drop it in the same elegant movement. Another FAS batsman drilled one from Phil out to Andy standing right on the long boundary, the only fielder for 40 yards; Andy did the right thing. Good catching tonight from the Remnants.
Dave Norman bowled the last over, with FAS needing 15 to win. FAS were by now running two byes off dropped takes by Tom, who was feeling the pressure, but Remnants fielding managed to get a run out off the penultimate ball. FAS needed 4 to win off one ball. Dave obligingly dropped it on a full length, fast outside the off; a fumble by Tom but a throw to him saw the batsmen well home, but with not enough runs. In a coda of bizarre cricket behaviour alone worth the match fee, the batsmen then embarked on a run with the keeper standing behind the stumps holding the ball in his hands. Headless chicken fielding is always possible at any stage of a close match, but this was optimism of a particularly and splendidly barmy kind; great credit must go to the batsman for this.
Later in the bar Spain beat Germany (er, they were in South Africa, but you know what I mean). A delightful evening, one that I hope would feel as pleasurable even had we lost. Sally arrived, glowing with the many joys of retirement. I am sure we all wish her a most enjoyable and fruitful time for all her many interests, including Chopin and her dacha on the Isle of Wight.