Remnants vs. The Academicals

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (142/8 in 20 6-ball overs)
The Academicals (86/8 in 20 6-ball overs)
by 56 runs.

For many years it was a close-fought battle betwen The Computer Laboratory and The Cavendish to be Remnants' nerdiest opposition. Then, in 2009, a new contender appeared: Richard Rex's Academicals. Full to the brim with PhDs (and high table meals), they defeated us comfortably last year, but today Remnants was fielding a very strong team with which to exact a measure of revenge.

Remnants batted first, and our innings seemed to begin well, with the score quickly mounting at more than a run a ball. Unfortunately, this was an illusion: once Nick Clarke (26 off 16 balls) was dismissed, the truth - that our batsmen were struggling - was revealed. Other than Nick and Andy Owen (11 off 20 balls), none of our top six made more than 3, and we were in real trouble at 64/6 after 12 (six-ball) overs. (And it was no consolation - and certainly no suprise - that the wickets had come from Remnants traitors: head Academical Richard Rex had dismissed Andy; Ferdi Rex had taken 1/7 from 4 fantastic overs; and Julius Rix was on his way to moutstache-inspired figures of 4/26.)

Perhaps the problem was that we'd been sending adults out to bat - maybe they were intimidated by our opponents' qualifications? Certainly The Academicals' team-sheet had some impressive entries, like "J. N. Carleton-Paget, PhD", "R. W. Serjeantson, PhD (WK)" and "T. A. Woolford, MA, MPhil" . . . although whether these should have carried any weight on the cricket field was less clear. At any rate, the Remnants innings finally got going when our two schoolboys - Tom Jordan (46 off 30 balls) and Olly Rex (27* off 23 balls) - came together. They smashed some huge boundaries and, even more importantly, ran like terriers between the wickets, sprinting lightning-fast singles and repeatedly getting second runs even when the ball had already been released by the boundary fielder. They even made good use of the fact that The Academicals had a few first-time cricketers (a pair of very sporty German-speakers) in the field: when one had fielded at mid-on, but was clearly unsure where to throw the ball, the two batsmen scampered a single that was completed with the ball still in the uncertain fielder's hand. Thanks almost entirely to Olly and Tom we ended up posting a healthy total of 142/8, even though we managed a final over collapse in which captain Joe White, much to his annoyance, provided Richard with a simple catch off his first ball.

Rather appealingly, Joe then had an immediate chance for revenge, as Dr Rex came out to open the batting for The Academicals. Richard got genuine edges to the first and fourth balls of the innings, but both went to ground; and when Joe induced a third edge in his next over it seemed probable that would be dropped as well . . . only it didn't matter this time, as the ball had already hit the stumps. With Joe (1/7), Daniel Mortlock (2/3) and Faruk Kara (1/7) all bowling brilliantly, we piled on the pressure, and a had a great time surrounding the batsmen with fielders (three slips, a short-leg and two silly mid-offs at one point). By this stage we'd reduced The Academicals to 11/3 after 6 overs and the contest was over.

There was still plenty of fun to be had in the final third of the game, however. For a start, Dr Carleton-Paget, The Academicals' kinetic number three (whose feet did a seemingly reflexive high-speed tap-dance as the bowler ran in), demonstrated that, whilst he could only just keep out our best deliveries, he could easily dismiss our bad balls to the boundary. And he got surprisingly effective support from the first-gamers. The first, Dr Steinberger, was given a crash-course in the rules and was then rather uncharitably stumped by 'keeper Rob Harvey, only for the appeal to be withrawn (although when he was eventually bowled he was sent off with a rather dubious "For you, Tommy, the game is over", for which the perpetrator was given an instant telling-off by the rest of the team). The other first-gamer, Dr Nickl, was, apparently, a one-time Austrian under 18 footballer who showed that hand-eye coordination is a highly transferrable skill by smacking a few big boundaries. In the end we only managed to get him out when was called through for a foolish second run to Dave Williams, and it was revealing that he was one of the only two dismissed batsmen who managed to avoid being bowled. (The other was Dr Rix who, having connected with some of his big leg-side shots, then made the mistake of trying a more textbook drive that went straight, if fast, to Daniel at mid-on.) The game then wound down with a "battle of the Rexes" (chortle) as Olly (1/12) had a ping at brothers Henry, Maximus and Ferdi. He castled the former, but couldn't get rid of the other two, denying the world an all-Rex hat-trick. Ferdi then had to survive a very testing final over from Andy Owen (1/13), and ended up having the last laugh when he sliced a waist-high full-toss over gully for three (although he, too, would have fallen victim to another one of Tom's mega-returns if Daniel, who'd collected the throw, had been capable of hitting the stumps from a few feet away).

Still, it was all smiles as we came off the field and congregated at the bar for some well-earned (or at least much-needed) beers on this balmiest of English evenings.