Remnants vs. Sharks

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Girton College

Remnants (160/4 in 20 six-ball overs)
lost to
Sharks (161/6 in 19.3 six-ball overs)
by 4 wickets.

Report by Dave Williams:

The naming of cricket teams is always ticklish. In the storming of forming, creativity leads in many directions: from the prosaic (Marylebone Cricket Club) to the bathetic (Not The MCC, showing its early 1980s origin); from the ill-advised (Harringay Hookers) to the obscure (Paper Tigers, a team of barristers from Paper Buildings just off Holborn). One of my favourites is the Gents Of Hampstead, a worthy attempt at Abercrombie & Fitch-style preppie "class" that only succeeded in their club being named after a public toilet. Of course our own beloved Remnants is like one of those low-esteem street styles - think MC Hammer's oversize pants lovingly recalling the ghetto poverty of bigger brothers' hand-me-downs - that transform under the magic of cognitive inversion into a badge of pride. So what about the assertively named Sharks? The Milton Brewery (for example) just doesn't invite the same kind of response, and history suggests that the Remnants have usually enjoyed upping their game to meet the nominative challenge.

Today's Remnants captain, Nick Clarke, began well by winning the toss and choosing to bat, deciding to go with the Williams-Clarke combo on a hard-baked Girton strip. Daniel remarked on the setting last week, and today the straw-coloured outfield and dark green corrugated-iron shacks brought to mind a sun-baked January afternoon in Wagga Wagga. The Sharks bowlers were friendly rather than predatory as Nick rapidly clocked up his 31 (off 27 balls) before falling victim to an top-edged cut/drive to a Shark at point in the disguise of his son, Ollie. Even though his father had already said he would make his son walk home to Bottisham if he ever did such a thing, Ollie pouched the chance like a hormonal female wallaby. That brought Tom Jordan to the crease, following on from his bravura 46 yesterday. Dave by this time was finding his pulls and carves but was despatched LBW (for 39 off 32 balls) on the rare finger of Geoff, but with the score at 100 after 12 (six-ball) overs we still comfortably were on top.

Supercharged Martin Law (25 off 15 balls) and the whippet-like Tom (23 off 22 balls) were making runs all-round at excellent pace as the Remnants scoring rate continued to rattle along at around 8 per over. After a couple of wickets Paul Jordan (6* off 5 balls) and John Young (10* off 9 balls) quickly settled down and ran hard to keep up the rate in the final overs. Our final total of 160/4 off our 20 should have been more than competitive - or would it be?

Nick marshalled his men with authority and composure in the field. Paul Jordan (1/16 off 4 overs) bowled an opening spell of beautiful line and length with good movement off the pitch and through the air, spearing through the opener's defence in the first over. A creative disagreement between Nick and Russ about field placement (Russ pro Dave in; Nick in favour of Dave out) resulted in a deep Dave taking a lofted sweep from their other opener about 10 yards inside the square-leg boundary in the second over. After three overs the Sharks were 12/2 - looking good for Remnants.

Meanwhile, though, the other opener was punching wristily out to the ever-lively Tom sweeping out on the cover boundary, and showing signs of class and power that looked dangerous. Russ took some hammer in his second (11 runs) and third (17) for his 1/33 off 3 overs. Paul was unlucky in his final over as his slower one beat the charge of the opener, but 'keeper Rob Harvey - enterprisingly standing up - somehow managed to miss the stumps. (Incidentally, in spite of the inevitable comparisons with Hannibal Lector, it is good to see Remnants players take responsibility for preservation of their rugged good looks. And one of the highlights of yesterday's match against Academicals was a psychopathic-looking Robbie ever so sweetly and gently explaining the stumping rule to the incoming and newbie Austrian batsman, as if grandma had put on a wolf costume to explain to Little Red Riding Hood the dangers of walking in the forest.)

Alec Armstrong, activated like a minuteman to stave off tonight's personnel crisis, showed excellent control of line and length to go for a miserly 1/26 off his 4 overs. In the middle of this, with one stump to hit, Tom's powerful throw from deep midwicket finally removed their opener for a quality 42 (off 33 balls) - could this have turned the match? Their number four was still clubbing to (or sometimes over) the three men in the barrier between long off and long on, Adie's slower one particularly going for some damage (0/30 off 3 overs). In over 15, Tom came on to bowl - could he turn the match with his bowling? His first two overs were hard to handle, high bounce and turn beating the bat, including finding the edge of the bludgeoning Shark number four for a steeply lofted caught and bowled. Now we were in with a chance again, weren't we?

Your correspondent today found himself called into action, quickly causing mayhem and consternation but unfortunately only in the umpiring department: an aberrant right leg knocked the bails off and set off a "no-ball" shout from the umpire. As Pooh and Piglet and all the animals of Hundred Acre Wood tried to sort it out, Christopher Robin (aka Geoff Hales, who is the only one who can spell "wol") said that it wasn't a no ball at all, so the call was rescinded by the umpire with a flamboyant sideways arm waving, but this looked remarkably like a signal for a 4; this was further corrected by general shouting and explaining. My first over went for 13, alas, although the second for 6; Tom's final over (the penultimate) went for 16 (1/27 off 3) as the new Sharks got into biffing mode straight away.

It all came down to the final over, to be bowled by Dave, with 4 needed. First ball: big lofted drive, was it going straight for a six? No, Alec was underneath and keeping his cool. Second ball, squirted through the off, a long chase and an impressive sliding stop from Adie kept it down to 3; two to get. Third: another squirt through the ring of close fielders, game over.

So some elated Sharks shook hands with some slightly disappointed Remnants as we changed in the outfield and got the white-coloured dead grass all over our dark civvies. Such things (the grass and some few sore memories of what might have been) blew away quickly as we cycled - or, indeed, might have driven our convertible Mercedes with personalized numberplate - over to the Traveller's Rest for a convivial pint or two. Sally showed everyone the stylish way to get your 5-a-day by downing a Pimms with a whole kitchen garden of greenery. As the alcohol kicked in and the endorphins slowly faded out, we could all agree that we had had a thoroughly good and enjoyable game. And by the end of the evening the only one who looked like they could really use a drink was the grass.

P.S. For any Sharks or others reading favouring the "retire at 25" rule - skilfully renegotiated by Nick this evening to "retire at 50" - the rationale for the "no retirement" principle goes like this: the lifetime average of a good batsman is around 30, but, n.b., this includes not outs. Even if they score at exactly 1 a ball (and good batsmen will score faster than this anyway) they will face, on average, say, around 24 balls per knock - exactly the same as a bowler who bowls four overs. If batsmen have to retire at 25 their participation will be unequal with bowlers because if they are out first ball nobody ever says they should stay in for 24 balls anyway. Batsmen who are not quite so good face fewer balls, but bowlers not so good as others also get to bowl fewer balls per match too. And, once every so often, a batsman will break through to an amazing and thrilling (I'm not kidding) world for a score that they/we/I remember for the whole of their/our/my life. I'm not saying in any way that the Sharks should do any different than whatever has helped them build a successful and happy side over many years, but the Remnants tradition makes good sense. It needs different and sensitive captaincy, but we have that too.

P.P.S. As summer holiday mayhem descends, many thanks to Daniel to working particularly hard this week to get a full side out. Everybody please remember to be reliable and honour - unless there are exceptional circumstances - your previous commitment to play.

Sharks report by Jeremy Penston:

Taxi for Clarke! Not that he was short of offers of a lift after Ollie Clarke (on loan from Remnants) caught his father Nick (a Remnants stalwart), breaking an opening partnership that threatened to take the game away from the Sharks. Was that the game changing moment? Who knows, because there were plenty of other fine moments as we chased down 160 to win in the last over. It was an odd game for many reasons. Firstly because Remnants (having earlier agreed the principle that home rules apply) decided that we had to play their “normal” cricket rules rather than our usual retire at 25. Perhaps it is unfair to put that one on Remnants as a team, because it was Clarke (N) who imposed his will on the rest of us. It was odd also in that he found Matt Bailey in a very diplomatic and accommodating mood. Oh, the times they are a’changing… The reason we play our version is simple – to make sure everyone gets a game, even if it means that the best players don’t always end up on the winning team. We do it for fun because we certainly don’t do it for the money! That is not to say that last night wasn’t fun, but for this correspondent it was all the more fun because of the way that the rules ended up being decided. It was obvious why Clarke (31) didn’t want a retirement game when he and Williams (39) opened the batting for Remnants. They are both clearly used to playing themselves in and dealing in boundaries. Some good bowling by Ralph and especially Derek kept things under control when it could all have gone horribly wrong – the bad balls were being mercilessly punished. Even some good balls were punished, mainly because our skip decided to play an unusual field without a mid-off or mid-on for much of the Remnants innings. With the score on 60-0 off 8, Matt turned to Paddy who had Clarke caught by Clarke at backward point. It was one of those that you tell your kids about years later, “I caught granddad out!” rather than “You caught me out”, I mean. Williams continued however and the Remnants scoring accelerated, helped perhaps by the fact that Hugh came on to bowl. It was not his finest hour (which came later) with three overs costing 33 runs, including 13 in wides (2 runs per wide for those not there). There might have been a strategy at work in the last over as he bowled leg-side wides from around the wicket, but from behind the stumps, I can safely say that no one else knew what he was up to. As the overs passed, there was a fine catch from Clive who was being kept busy in Cow Corner and (for me at least) the move of the match. Jez took the ball down on his chest, turned and lost his opponent before firing an unstoppable shot straight into the back of the net the stumps (to run out T Jordan). The upshot was 160-4. Without Adam that was going to be a real challenge, but with Clive and Jim in the lineup, anything is possible. The same can also be said of Hugh but for different reasons 🙂 The first over never happened. For some reason I have a mental block, but the game started to take shape as Clive started rattling off the runs. The one concern with Jim was that he was going to change the way he has played all season because he came to the crease in the second over with the score on 7-2. That concern was quickly put to rest with his scorecard reading the usual 4-4-1-4 and no dots appearing until his 10th ball when being the showman that he is, he played a forward defensive shot. Clive was out to an incredible throw from the boundary, a direct hit running him out for 42 and Jim slowed a little as he tired. This was credit to Remnants who managed to stop most of his boundaries after the initial onslaught and made him run between the wickets rather more than normal. This was a double whammy as it also deprived him of the rest he normally gets between balls as the fielders find the ball in some hedge or other. The other major contribution to the score came from Hugh, proving to all of us that he can bat given half a chance. His 31 kept the scoreboard ticking over on Derek’s fancy iPhone app and kept the Sharks on track, even when Jim was finally out for 44. Hugh’s innings was unfortunately ended in the last over, caught a foot from the boundary, going for a six that would have won the game in style, but by that stage the hard work was done and we could afford the luxury of such indulgence. We got there thanks to some splendid batting by Pat made a target of 20 off 2 overs into 4 off 1. Such is the strength in depth in our team that Ralph (averaging over 50 for the season) came in at number 8 and knocked off the winning run. It was good win, made sweeter by the closeness of the game and the earlier debate about the rules. We can win any which way and can do so with everyone playing their part!