The primary challenge facing Remnants today was not whether we could overcome the might of Romsey Town (reigning CCA Junior 4 South B league champions), but whether we could successfully organise a match at all. After three decades of Geoff seeing to it that we have eleven players, a ground, a ball, opposition, etc., his retirement as club secretary meant that we'd been left to our own devices, much like a child having its first swim without water-wings or first bike-ride without training wheels. Our approach to this has been division of labour, and various aspects of today's game had been set up by the unofficial management team of Daniel Mortlock, Nicky Mellish and Dave Williams. And whilst this does mean that Remnants finally has mobile phone and e-mail contacts, it was inevitable that there would be teething troubles as the new system settled down. Add in some transport woes (Dave Williams trapped in Crete due to the Icelandic volcano; Matt Hughes trapped in Newmarket due to a broken down car) and it meant we didn't have a full eleven until match day - and even that contained only nine Remnants regulars, the final two players being drafted in from external sources at the last moment.
Still, come 5:30pm, there were twenty-odd cricketers at Fitz and the time had come for Joe White to make his on-field debut as Remnants captain. Unfortunately, he'd "only just left the office", so George Speller took on calling - well, really tossing - duties, a task he completed with great success, luring the Romsey captain into a false call. After a quick inspection of Dave Norman's immaculate pitch, George decided that Remnants would bat.
This decision was hardly unreasonable, but it back-fired both personally (as George was given out LBW for a second-ball duck) and from a team point of view (as we struggled to score early on, being just 31/3 after 7 eight-ball overs). John Richer (10 off 13 balls) and Faruk Kara (11 off 13 balls) both got starts, but found it hard to get away Romsey's slower bowlers; Remnants first-timer Gabriel Fox (7 off 34 balls) also struggled to hit out, but instead kept the scoreboard ticking over by ignoring his troublesome hamstring to run an inordinate number of byes and leg-byes.
Remnants mounted something of a comeback in the final few overs of the innings, as first Tom Jordan (18* off 30 balls) and then Julius Rix (26* off just 17 balls) finally started to connect with some big shots. Indeed, when Julius began the final over by smacking a huge six and then going within a few inches of repeating the trick next ball, it seemed we might even make it triple figures . . . but sadly there were no more boundaries to be had, and we had to settle with the clearly sub-par total of 98/4.
Even though we were playing a slightly shortened format (14 eight-ball overs a side), there didn't seem much hope of restricting Romsey to less than the required rate - if we were to win then we'd really need to bowl them out. So while captain Joe White (1/2) and George Speller (0/11) bowled superbly to keep the scoring to a minimum, it wasn't quite what the doctor ordered.
It was time to emulate Romsey and turn to our slower bowlers and, with the ball keeping low, they had a field day. Faruk Kara (2/11) began his spell with two quick wickets, the first not courtesy of a good stumping by 'keeper Rob Harvey, as previously reported, but due to "flight, turn, . . ." that resulted in the batsman being bowled; and the second thanks to a sharp catch by Joe. This left Romsey in serious trouble at just 13/3 after 5 overs: they now needed a much more challenging 86 off 72 balls. Tom Jordan (3/24) then joined in the fun, dismissing two Remnants traitors (Daniel Mortlock, well caught and bowled off a huge skier, and then Richard Rex bowled next ball) along the way. But possibly the key wicket during this period was that of another Remnant, Nick Clarke being bowled for a duck by Simon McAdam (1/24) in his first spell for the club (despite being sledged by his new captain for no obvious reason).
With Romsey now 91/8 and one man short due to injury, we only needed one more wicket to complete a fabulous recovery . . . but the problem was that Remnants/Romsey uber-finisher Andy Owen was still at the crease. After John Moore (0/10) was unlucky to have him dropped at mid-off, Andy had taken Romsey to within 3 runs of victory with one ball remaining in the 13th over. Joe brought the field in to keep him off strike for the final over, which seemed reasonable . . . but it was somehow inevitable that this Remnants game would finish in the same way as so many before it, Andy smiting a full-toss to the square-leg boundary.
It was great to be out on the field, and a bonus to have such a close game first-up . . . but a pity that we had to start the season drowning our sorrows rather than toasting our success.