This evening's game began in a pretty desultory fashion: 23 cricketers standing around with hands in pockets under a sullen grey sky that seemed only moments from bursting forth with rain. We were in God's hands as far as the rain went, which was presumably St Barnabas's department, but the "23" was our own doing: a communications breakdown meant that a full Remnants twelve had arrived expecting to play. The problem was solved when Rob Harvey kindly agreed to stand out, thus completing Tom Jordan's promotion into the eleven, albeit with some additional pressure of having to perform.
Tom got his chance to contribute rather sooner than we would have liked - down to bat at number five, he should have been cooling his heels for an hour or so, but instead found himself at the crease in the 7th (eight-ball) over with the score a fairly dismal 36/3. The basic problem was that the St Barnabas bowlers weren't giving much away, making it difficult to score and easy to get out. But Tom found a way around this, coming forward, keeping his bat straight and sprinting lots of aggressive singles. He found an ally in Remnants prodigal 'keeper Ev Fox (20 off 18 balls) and soon they'd ditched the cheeky singles in favour of big boundaries. One more big drive from Tom took him to a superb half-century, but unfortunately a similar lofted shot next ball was well caught by the bowler, leaving Tom to smile his way back to the pavilion having hit a superb 51 (off 50 balls). We were now a much more respectable 96/4 after 12 overs, and then Daniel Mortlock (20* off 12 balls) gave us a Spinal Tap-like "push over the edge". In the end we tripled our score after the half-way point, posting a competitive total of 131/7.
After a few overs in the field, though, our total was revealed to be absolutely winning: fast-men Joe White (1/5) and Olly Rex (1/12) had the St Barnabas top order in all sorts of trouble. Joe used his Granta experience to gee up the bowlers with the powerful cliches "That's you all day, buddy!", "Good areas!" and "Good wheels!", whilst he made sure the fielders didn't drift off by demanding "pointless clapping" from time to time. (However such is the poor state of cricket verbiage these days that even Michael Vaughan has trundled out "good areas" while commentating on the TV.) After the openers took the non-existent shine off the old ball, Alec Armstrong (2/17, to go with a superb running catch) and Tom Serby (2/12 with the sort of slow-travelling lobs that we haven't seen since Phil Watson's hey-day) then got some wickets with the slow stuff to leave St Barnabas dead in the water at 25/4 off 7 overs. Even though this was only marginally worse than our own situation at the same stage there was never any sense that our total was under threat, and so it turned out. St Barnabas looked odds-on to at least bat out their overs, but then fell victim a fatal two-man ambush as Nick Clarke got a run out with what he modestly described as a "perfect throw" and Tom Jordan (3/12) mopped up the tail as a good leggie should. Tom thus completed a superb all-round performance as super-sub, leading Remnants to a surprisingly comfortable 49-run victory.
The win also took Remnants to the end of July with a decidedly healthy record of 14 wins and 9 losses from our 23 external fixtures (to go with one internal game and just 4 wash-outs). Two more wins ought to see us stay in the black for season 2010, and given the number of players in form it's hard to imagine us failing to do that: six batsmen have 180+ runs at an average of 25.00 or more; seven bowlers have 7+ wickets at under 20.00. Given a few all-rounders appear in both lists, that would make a plausible team line-up which, on average, would score about 150 and then bowl out the opposition for about 120, so that's a 30-run victory every time . . .