Report by Daniel Mortlock:
It was the Nick Clarke show today. With Remnants taking on his old Saturday club, Fen Ditton, it was maybe not too surprising that he upped his game; unfortunately such a dominating performance was completely predictable once it turned out he'd be playing for, rather than against, our opposition today. Given that George Speller led his Pretty Boys to a big victory against us just a week ago, Remnants might have to instigate some sort of loyalty clause in our (non-existant) player contracts. About the only consolation today was that our batting effort was so poor that we almost certainly would have lost even if Nick hadn't smacked so many boundaries off our bowling.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves here, as the first Remnants failures of the match took place some 24 hour earlier. After some frantic e-mailing and calling, we'd settled on a delicate two-man plan for Russ and Ev to acquire the club kit between them. But when last night's match was cancelled, Russ's delivery scheme was scuppered; and then when Ev went off to Fitz to collect the kit today he found it locked in the bar with nobody there with the key. Given that most people had turned up expecting to use the club gear, we had to organise a complicated system of bat-, pad- and glove-sharing today, each wicket bringing a flurry of unbluckling and velcro-ripping as we tried to get the next batsman ready to go out. It was all rather inelegant, although it could have been worse if Russ and Adie's hypothetical box-sharing scheme had been implemented. And we were at least punctual - with everyone (if not everything) present at 6pm we could actually have a proper toss, which we won; and, after some head-scratching, we decided to bat first.
Remnants got off to a decent start as Tom Serby (20 off 28 balls) and Dave Williams (15 off 18 balls) led us to a healthy 46/1 after 6 (eight-ball) overs. At which point we fell apart, most of the team being bowled out as they attempted ill-judged cross-batted strokes on a pitch of extremely variable bounce. Rather than accelerating from our good start, we all but ground to a halt, making just 27/4 from the next 6 overs. Daniels Mortlock (14* off 19 balls) and Brown (7* off 8 balls, including a magnificent cover drive that was certainly our shot of the day) ensured we scored at more than a run a ball for the rest of the innings, but a total of 101/6 was pretty disappointing given our start.
Through our slide we had Nick chirping away from short-mid-wicket, and by the last over he was kindly suggesting that we had nothing more than our averages to play for. Sadly, he might have been right, as while Daniel couldn't smack the late boundaries we needed, his third consectuive "not out" put him in the middle of a pile-up at the top of the batting averages: any of John Richer (333 runs at 41.62), Nick (399 runs at 36.27), Olly Rex (141 runs at 35.25), Daniel (171 runs at 34.20), Tom Jordan (231 runs at 33.00), Tom Serby (275 runs at 30.56) or Richard Rex (205 runs at 29.29) could "win" this year.
As for winning today, well maybe our best hope lay with the man topping the bowling averages: George Speller (who had 6 wickets at 6.17 going into today's game). He was pretty determined to avenge Coton's two league losses to Fen Ditton, and if he could go some way to repeating his 6/0 effort for The Travelling Theatre last year then we'd be right back in the game. Unfortunately he couldn't: George (0/14) and Daniel Mortlock (0/6) both posed Nick and Ollie Clarke (opening together for Fen Ditton) a few problems, but couldn't make the critical breakthrough. We then turned to Remnants first-timer Naveen Chouksey (0/9), who bowled a brilliantly lively spell of slingy left-arm over and repeatedly beat both batsmen . . . but he - and we - also couldn't get that critical bit of luck we needed.
Moreover, we didn't seem to be getting the lively and erratic bounce we'd faced just an hour earlier, although it was notable that all our bowlers had been considerably quicker than the Fen Ditton attack (at least one of whom was bowling at about half-pace, presumably by choice). Hence it was time to slow things down, a move which should have worked when both Russell Woolf (0/31) and Alec Armstrong (1/16) induced mis-hit drives from Nick . . . but in both cases the chances were shelled our increasingly despondent captain. In the end we did see Nick off, but only when he passed his fifty and, with ladles of something way beyond irony, was immediately forced to retire. But any sense of relief was quickly tempered by the fact that the new Fen Ditton batsmen were able to pick off the remaining runs with even more ease than Nick had been earlier.
The one compensation was that just about everyone headed back to the local (The King's Head) to mull over the game and keep one eye on the England vs. Hungary friendly at Wembley. England achieved the most meaningless of victories after their summer of abject failure, but the Remnants season is still alive and well despite two consecutive traitor-led thrashings. We've won 15 and lost 11 of our external fixtures so far and have just four or five to come (as the President's XI game and the The Travelling Theatre game count as internal). At the risk of being a bit negative, even one wash-out would guarantee us an even ledger; and one win would see us in the black. But what would really put the icing on the cake would be if we could follow-up on our mid-season defeat of Granta and beat them again next Tuesday to finish the year with a 2-0 record against them for the first time ever.