Having been soundly thumped by The Technology Partnership a month ago, it seemed clear that it would be a serious challenge to beat them today. However our first challenge was instead provided by Britain's fragile transport system: captain Daniel Mortlock had to resign himself to missing the start of play the moment his train back from London was diverted via Hertfordshire, and so texted Nick Clarke to deputise. No problem there . . . until Nick found himself in a tail-back on the A14 that meant he was going to be even later than Daniel. So that meant a call to Andy Owen . . . but he wasn't answering his mobile, so a further call to Dave Norman was required. He duly passed on the message, and we just had to hope that Andy could win the toss and bat while our team gradually assembled. Of course we got no such luck, and headed out to field as best we could, although we did at least have a full eleven thanks to Geoff Hales (ready as ever to serve his club) and twelfth man Matt Hughes (who'd happened to be in the vicinity of Fitz).
Appropriately for a match played during the football World Cup, the game began with a decidedly international flavour, and the fortunes of at least some players matched those of their national teams. TTP sent out a Kiwi opening bat (a taciturn gentleman with the somehow appropriate name of Clint) and we countered with an Aussie bowler (Chris McNeill), which was probably a mistake given that Australia had been humiliated 0-4 by Germany whereas New Zealand were still on a high after their 1-1 draw against Slovakia earlier in the day. Sure enough, Clint smashed a series of huge boundaries to race to 39* off just 16 balls, whereas Chris was banished to square-leg after his two (six-ball) overs had cost 26 runs. With TTP having raced to 58/0 off just 5 overs and our full team still not all present, it was hard not to believe that Clint was going bat us into the ground.
Fortunately, we never got the chance to find out. The reason was that Andy had agreed to TTP's request that batsmen retire at 40, and so Clint could would be able to hit just one more boundary (at most) before being forced to head back to the pavilion. He tried to flick another leg-side six off Phil Hastings (1/14), but couldn't get under the ball, instead sending it rocketing flat and hard to square-leg . . . where Chris McNeill held a fantastic catch to exact the perfect Antipodean revenge. Not that we were winning by any stretch, but TTP's scoring rate was gradually reduced as Daniel Mortlock (0/21), Simon McAdam (0/24) and Quentin Harmer (1/30) all conceded "only" about a run a ball. We would have had a few wickets as well, but for our English fielders following Robert Green's example by letting the ball slip through their fingers. Nick had also arrived by this stage, and as he swapped over with Matt Hughes, the latter drily remarked that "You'd better earn your spot by scoring a few runs tonight!" to which Nick could only nod in agreement.
But just when we'd got ourselves up to full strength, things started to unravel again, beginning with scorer Nicky Mellish getting a nosebleed that just wouldn't stop. Russell Woolf, after taking a few late-innings wickets on his way to figures of 2/46, took Nicky and Adie off to Addenbrookes where, in the end, Nicky had to spend the night, being now officially classified as a "troublesome little bleeder". Thankfully she got the "all clear" by the next morning, and by the end of the day was back home with Adie.
Back on the field, we somehow had ourselves a marginally plausible target of 163 - and given that we'd easily hauled down St Barnabas's total of 158 a few weeks ago there was a firm precedent that the 2010 Remnants side was at least capable of chasing such big totals. And this is where we got our first decent break of the day: Clint, now opening the bowling for TTP, delivered a rather wild spell that was peppered with waist-high full tosses and further seasoned with a bizarre succession of about ten back-foot no-balls. Given that we'd conceded just the one extra (a leg-bye) when we'd fielded, this was a real bonus, and gave openers John Richer and Nick Clarke the chance to play themselves in without actually needing to score runs themselves. They did this soon enough, though, and swapped boundaries just as effectively as the TTP openers had earlier in the day, taking us to a fantastic 92/0 after 11 overs. Having completed a ten-wicket win chasing a similarly large TTP total back in 2000, a repeat performance was on the cards today . . . except, of course, that compulsory retirement was looming for both John and Nick. This rule had given us a chance earlier in the day, and it seemed it was going to do the same for TTP now, as both batsmen stopped hitting and started slogging in an attempt to make the most of their final scoring shot. On this score Nick failed, finishing with a 2 to take him to 41* (off 39 balls), but John succeeded spectacularly, smashing his last ball over the mid-wicket boundary to finish on 45* (off 43 balls).
Our openers had given us the best of starts, but TTP had so many runs to defend that the overall match situation was still roughly even: we had two new batsmen in and needed 60 runs off about 50 balls. Our middle order of Gabriel Fox (6 off 6 balls), Phil Hastings (7 off 5 balls) and Andy Owen (4 off 4 balls) all scored quickly enough, but we lost wickets too regularly to get into the sort of free-scoring rhythm that John and Nick had found earlier.
With two overs remaining the match was still almost perfectly balanced, with 20 runs needed 12 balls. And, rather nicely, it seemed the game was going to end with the same Antipodean battle with which it had begun three hours earlier: we had Daniel Mortlock and Chris McNeill at the crease; TTP had brought on Clint for a final blast in the increasing gloom. It would be nice to imagine the bowler standing at the top of his run and squinting at the batsmen much as his namesake did in endless seventies films, but this Clint seemed a bit more phlegmatic than that, and probably just ran in as normal. When he sent a few balls past Chris's outside edge it seemed that he might have done enough to put the game out of our reach, but then Chris smacked an imperious boundary off the last ball of the penultimate over to keep us in the game (and possibly complete his own personal catharsis as well).
The final over began with Remnants needing an even dozen, so TTP were still probably marginal favourites . . . but then a big wide and an even bigger boundary meant that we were winning for the first time in the match. The batsmen scampered runs off the next few balls, to leave Chris facing with two deliveries remaining and two runs needed to win (or one to tie). Chris swung at the first ball, but played over it, and with the 'keeper bravely standing up there was no chance of running a bye. Now we just needed bat on ball to at least tie the game, but Chris managed much more than that, driving the ball in the direction of the deepish mid-off. The first run was assured and Daniel, with the benefit's of the non-striker's head-start, looked good to make it back for the second . . . but then a cheer went up from the pavilion as the fielder let the ball slip through his fingers and, eventually, all the way to the boundary. Daniel (28* off 22 balls) and Chris (12* off 8 balls) were thus clapped from the ground, having completed one of the more implausible Remnants wins in recent memory.