Over a post-match beer John Richer noted that it was the first time in club history that a Remnants match had begun under one Prime Minister and ended under another. It was thus maybe appopriate that we were playing at a place named for perhaps the greatest Prime Minister of all. And, given the historic formation of a coallition government, it is perhaps also appropriate that we have two completely independent reports on today's match. First, since his report was filed some 9 minutes earlier than John's, here's Richard Rex's assessment of the day's events:
Remnants batted first, with John Richer and Richard Rex being sent out to open. Earnest debate among the Churchillians at the start of the second over concluded with their deciding not to place a slip. Rex promptly edged the first ball through slip at comfortable catching height. Without discussion, their earlier decision was reversed. They kept a slip for much of the ensuing proceedings, to no avail. It soon became apparent that Rex was displaying the gritty, Boycottian talents that have earned him the soubriquet "Dr Dotball" from unsympathetic colleagues at Romsey. Richer, however, was seeing it big, and with Rex scampering singles to put him on strike, or turning ones into twos to keep him there, they put on 106 for the first wicket. This was largely thanks to some expansive pulling and driving by Richer, who somehow kept on managing to propel the ball across the vast steppes of the Churchill ground to reach the remote boundaries. This was doubly difficult in that the ball was coming through slow and low. John, who had already survived a close stumping chance, was eventually dismissed for 77 (off just 49 balls).
Faruk Kara (14* off 20 balls), like almost everyone who batted that evening, took a few balls to adjust to the slow pitch. But once he started hitting the ball with some vim, keen running and a helpful supply of wides kept the score ticking along through the final five overs. Rex, who surprised the entire Churchill team (and himself) by hitting his only four off the last ball of the innings, finished with 39* (off 53 balls), his highest score since returning to cricket earlier this century.
Captain Joe White (0/24) opened our bowling with a couple of sharp overs from the Moller Centre end, and with only one scored from his first over - practically everything else passing the bat, or rather passing where the bat was trying to get, but a long time before the bat could get there - the Churchill reply was soon making a decent total look rather more challenging. Julius Rix (0/28) also bowled tightly from the Madingley Road end, and after seven eight-ball overs only 36 runs were on the board. The Remnants cause, it must be said, was crucially advanced at this stage of the innings by the extraordinary respect which the openers showed to the at that point untested throwing arms of some therefore mightily relieved fielders. Joe then decided to take the pace off, and with Faruk Kara (2/16) at one end and Les Collings (1/32) at the other the Churchill openers struggled still more, now frequently completing shots long before the ball was anywhere near them. Their frustration led them adventurously down the pitch. The result was some sharp glove-work from Rob Harvey, as the first two wickets fell to stumpings.
Deepak Gajjala (2/25) replaced Kara at the Moller Centre end as the new batsmen started to address the escalating run-rate. Runs started to come, but further damage was done as a timely full-toss - that "much-underestimated delivery" - clipped the base of the off-stump to dislodge a bail, astonish the batsman, and yield Deepak a wicket. By now Churchill had unveiled their secret weapon: a tall batsman with, apparently, only one shot - but what a shot! A sort of blend of Luke Wright and the immortal "Long" John Daly, he wound up an enormous backswing while shifting his left leg out of harm's way on the leg-side, before scything through the line of the ball with an arc tending towards the full 360 degrees. The slow pitch played into his hands, giving him the time to wind up before unleashing the shot, and the sense that this man could challenge for a golfing Major was corroborated by the fact that almost every contact resulted in a soaring drive straight back down the ground. Julius, Matt Hughes and Dave Green were kept busy on the long boundaries, keeping fours down to twos, but one of these shots actually struck the Moller Building for the game's only six. As on previous occasions, Remnants struggled against a one-shot wonder, unable to stop him scoring with that one stroke. His partner, however, met his downfall attempting a similar shot off the tidy bowling of Gabriel Fox (1/11). He managed only a thick outside edge which was curving away gently over cover when Richard Rex stuck up an optimistic pair of hands to pluck it from the air. The cyclonic driver was briefly threatening to win the game single-handed when White recalled Kara to the attack and the inevitable at last happened: he missed one and was bowled. Churchill went down fighting, running more aggressively now they had seen us field for a dozen overs, but the rate climbed past two and then three a ball as the hands of the pavilion clock passed 8.15pm. Joe White finished the proceedings, though he reduced his pace to Remnants-dobbler level in recognition of the almost total darkness now prevailing. Aggressive running now saw not only the non-striker but the striker backing up. One unlucky Churchillian was left stranded, and Joe teased him into flinging himself at the crease before deigning to remove the bails. Then, on what should have been the final delivery, the batsman ran half-way down the pitch in an apparent attempt to head the ball, resulting in a dubious no-ball call and a three off the resulting last ball. Joe generously allowed the batsman to complete the third with a despairing drive, content not to rub in the Remnants victory by denying the batsman a run and a not out.
The meeting then adjourned to the Churchill College Bar, where heroic tales were told and David Cameron's arrival in Downing Street was greeted with everything from joy to despair.
With Mr Cameron having successfully ascended to the second highest office in the land, his ambitions must presumably extend to going one step higher: Remnants captain. But to do he'd have to usurp the incumbent, Joe White, who provided the second commentary on today's match:
As per usual, captain Joe White was late arriving at the game, so it fell to Rob Harvey to call correctly at the toss and choose to bat first. John Richer and Richard Rex opened the batting and immediately smote the students to all parts, putting on 106 for the first wicket. John was the aggressor, doing the majority of the scoring but this was only possible thanks to the anchor role played by Richard: he rotated the strike very well, allowing John the majority of the strike. John was eventually out for 77 (off 49 balls), particularly satisfying for him as, being a fellow of the college, he had never scored runs on the ground. The only negative note being that he missed this golden opportunity to legitimately use the phrase "Do you know who I am?" throughout the evening, including when the bar refused to serve him a jug!
John's fall brought Faruk Kara (14* off 20 balls) to the crease in the final few overs, and he and Richard manoeuvred the ball well, finishing with a big final over (partly due to some expansive wides going to the boundary), ending on an impressive total of 146/1, with Richard having carried his bat for 39* (off 53 balls).
By this point, the evening had grown quite cold - the coldest May night for about 20 years, apparently - so it was a well jumpered Remnants side which took to the field (having been generously offered the 48-hour old remains of the Churchill side's tea from a Sunday game). Joe White (0/24) and Julius Rix (0/28) opened the bowling and kept things very tight in the first four overs, both very unlucky not to take wickets with edges dropping just out of reach and the stumps being shaved on several occasions. However, the lack of wickets was not critical in this case because, as we were defending a healthy total, the early economy meant that the pressure on the batsmen was rising with every ball. Faruk Kara (2/16) and Les Collings (1/32) then replaced the opening pair and turned the vice even further, with Faruk in particular bamboozling the batsmen on several occasions. In fact, it was following this four over burst of spin that the game was effectively won for Remnants, with the scoring being kept to a minimum and wickets falling, the first two to spectacular stumpings by 'keeper Rob Harvey. The second of these was the most impressive as Rob, sensing blood from his stumping of the over before, spied that the batsman had not noticed he was out of his ground and, with a blood curdling roar, smashed the stumps with such ferocity that only one stump remained standing and the bails were sent half way to the boundary!
Once Les and Faruk had finished their spells, the game was essentially beyond Churchill, barring some exceptional batting. Possibly sensing this, the students started to throw caution to the wind, swinging hard and running even harder. Still, some very effective and calm fielding from Remnants - particularly Richard Rex, Dave Green and Matt Hughes in the deep - kept the required run rate tantalisingly out of reach. However, the bigger issue to the game was the ever diminishing light and dropping temperature, which by this point was approaching absolute zero. Indeed, at one point, Dave Green's hands started to spontaneously bleed just because of the cold. It was therefore in somewhat of a rush that Deepak Gajjala (2/25) and Gabriel "don't call me Gabby" Fox (1/11) got through their overs, both taking wickets, despite the students occasionally connecting with the big shots being played at each delivery. Faruk, Les and Julius all came back to finish their remaining overs as quickly as possible, and it fell to Joe to bowl the final over off a one pace run-up, with the students needing about 20. Some straight bowling and tidy fielding (including a run out) restricted the students to singles and twos, meaning that they finished 7 runs short.
All then retired to the bar to listen to Richard describe how he had had recently "pleased the nurse with his size" and to watch Dave throw cider over innocent bystanders.