Report by Daniel Mortlock:
With Geoff having ascended from club secretary to the glories of the Remnants presidency, he made use of his new-found power (or at least time) to put together his own President's XI, a semi-invitational side made up of club legends to take on the current regulars. So while still an internal fixture like June's Remnants vs. Remnants game, tonight there was one eye on the club's long past.
Sadly, this evening's initial focus was on the more recent past, and specifically yesterday's rain-wrecked game. With rain pouring down on Fitz and the covers on at the intended start-time of 6pm it was an even money bet whether we'd start the game at all; but 20 minutes later the low grey cloud had slid over us and the sun was shining brightly in a predominantly blue sky. Even though the conditions were now fine, we couldn't recoup the lost time, so Joe White (captaining Remnants) and Geoff Hales (captaining The President's XI through his avatar, Andy Owen) agreed to 13 eight-ball overs per innings. There was also some horse-trading with players, Adie Mellish and Naveen Chouksey joining The President's XI to replace Remnants legends Tony Malik and Phil Watson, neither of whom had been able to make it. Still, there was plenty of legend-power simply though Geoff's presence: once he took off his Remnants blazer and led The President's XI out into the field he'd made his 399th appearance in the 798th Remnants game. (With an appearance scheduled for The Travelling Theatre in a fortnight's time, he should make it to the mythical 400 by season's end.)
The Remnants innings began in the usual way: with Dave Williams (68* off 59 balls) smacking some big boundaries whilst being involved in some, er, interesting running between the wickets. Still, after he'd gotten rid of his opening partner, he got solid support from Phil Hastings (11 off 11 balls), who smacked a huge six into the pavilion, and would have had another boundary but for Geoff stopping a full-blooded pull with his thumb, thigh and "er, yes" (as the man himself put it post-match). After Dave Norman (1/9) had Phil LBW, the scoring stagnated a little as Joe White (13 off 25 balls) seemed to determine to score primarily in scampered leg byes. He did eventually get his eye in, and started coming down the track to Ferdi Rex (1/17) with great effect . . . at least until Ferdi let slip a beamer which Joe ducked, assuming there would be a "no ball" call, but instead found himself stumped by President's XI 'keeper Ev Fox off the most generous of wides. The Remnants innings wound down with Daniel Mortlock (8* off 6 balls) continuing to collect late-innings not outs, although his main achievement was to keep giving Dave Williams the strike so he could whack a few more boundaries. The eventual Remnants total of 125/3 from 13 eight-ball overs was thus almost ideal, in the sense that the game felt perfectly balanced at the change of innings.
The President's XI chase started with Mikes Jones and Sneyd reprising their "49s" partnership from The Travelling Theatre game in 2008. Daniel Brown (0/1) proved a bit too quick for Mike Sneyd (0 of 10 balls) to hit, but he did manage to keep the scoreboard ticking over with some cleverly-placed leg-byes sliding past the 'keeper. Richard Rex (0/12) also caused problems for the batsmen to such a degree that Mike pulled away at the point of delivrey, leaving Richard frozen at the moment of release until someone rebooted him. Mike's eventful tenure came to an end when Andy Bell made a great start to his Remnants career (not that we offer a pension or similar) by scoring a direct hit run out from 30 yards away. That brought Adrian Mellish (5 off 6 balls) to the crease, and he delighted in smacking a few twos off Russell Woolf (1/15) before Russ had the last laugh by getting his loopiest of deliveries through Adie's defenses.
Ev Fox (29 off 25 balls) now joined Mike Jones to compile probably the best partnership of the match, at just the right pace to make the chase feel comfortable, at least in purely numerical terms. Perhaps the greater problem was that thick black clouds had once again darkened the sky (except from an eerie orange glow from the direction of the setting sun) and it was even starting to drizzle - hardly conditions to be scoring at more than a run a ball.
With 3 overs to go it seemed Remnants was safe: The President's XI needed 38 runs from 24 balls, which would have been hard enough in good conditions but surely impossible in the drizzle and fading light. Sure enough, panic set in, Mike Jones scoring his third run out of the innings when he called Richie Young (4 off 2 balls) through for a suicidal non-single. Dave Williams and Phil calmly completed the dismissal, although when Dave Norman appeared as the next batsman it seemed that maybe it was the fielders whose actions were suicidal. Sure enough, Dave (23* off 15 balls) smashed some huge boundaries and, with the help of Andy Owen (10 off 7 balls), swung the match back in The President's XI's favour.
The last over began with 9 needed from the final 8 balls of the match. Joe White manfully accepted the horrid task of bowling at quarter pace in the gloom, while Dave Norman's comment that "I can see better now the street-lights have come on!" suggested he wasn't too pleased about the situation either. Andy launched a huge drive off the first delivery of the over, the nearly invisible ball flying in the vague direction of Olly Rex at mid-off; Olly made good ground, but surely there was no way he'd be able to hold on in the slippery conditions . . . and yet he wrapped his hands round it to maybe flip the game back in Remnants' favour. After Dave picked up another single, Joe then bowled the next two batsmen for first ball ducks, leaving Catherine Owen with the unenviable tasks of both preventing a hat trick (which would also have ended the innings) and getting Dave back on strike. But she's definitely her father's daughter - a slightly choppy cut meant she'd done her part of the bargain, and Dave completed his by thundering home comfortably before the return came in. A big boundary and a two from Dave meant the game came down to the final delivery: the scores were tied . . . and yet it was somehow no surprise that the winning run was scored easily, Dave smashing another straight drive to end the game. So The President's XI completed a one wicket victory off the last ball, although the two stand-out individual performances were from Remnants: Dave Williams's 68* earlier in the day and Joe White return of 4/21, his best ever Remnants figures (suggesting he should come in off a few steps more often).
After everyone crowded into the Fitz bar to drink Dave Williams's multiple jugs it was off to The Tandoori Palace for a late dinner. This also gave the club a chance to thank Dave Norman for all his work curating Fitz and both Sally Hales and Nicky Mellish for their impeccable scoring.