Most years the last few Remnants games of the season are an exercise in frustration, as a club full of players who can't believe where the summer has gone try to defy short evenings and awful weather to get in a few more games before all Cambridge's cricket grounds get turned into football pitches. But not this year. After an early start last night allowed us to play an entire extra innings against Cambridge Consultants, a combination of clear skies and punctual players meant we got to play an (almost) full-length game without any serious light problems.
It was The Travelling Theatre who were the most punctual, and hence got to bowl first, although they weren't able to make much of an impact on Remnants opening pair John Richer (42 off 40 balls) or Naveen Chouksey (44* off 36 balls). They put on an 85-run opening partnership that combined some elegant pulls (particularly from John) and a pleasing number of agricultural shots (from both players). It could have been even worse for the thespians if not for some great stops by Ferdi Rex, who seemed to be fielding every ball at one point, and Geoff Hales, who made several spectacular diving saves. The first was witnessed by Jess Norman who, once she'd lifted her jaw up off the ground, opined "I didn't know he could do that!" to which Sal replied that "He used to do that all the time a few years ago" and then added something about him being called "the whale". Geoff's second such save was followed by a quick throw to bowler Andy Owen, who whipped off the bails with the batsman, Olly Rex, rushing to try and complete a quick single. Umpire Richard Rex raised his finger, hence causing immediate family mayhem on the boundary, where most of the rest of the family were aghast at the decision - one can only hope that Richard's integrity in that situation can not be corrupted by offers of extra helpings at future family meals.
The run out occurred during a late period of dominance by The Travelling Theatre duing which Martyn Waterfall (1/27), Andy Owen (1/10) and Ferdi Rex (2/23) all took wickets and Naveen retired "exhausted". But with Tom Jordan (10* off 13 balls) ensuring the late-innings scoring didn't dry up completely, it was clearly Remnants who ahead at the inter-innings break.
A total of 123 in a shortened late-season game felt like it was going to be hard to chase down, and a difficult task was quickly converted to the near-impossible as Faruk Kara (3/21) and Naveen Chouksey (0/3) bowled a couple of hyper-economical opening spells. Tom Serby (34 off 39 balls) and Steve Attmore (10 off 30 balls) both struggled to score freely, and suddenly The Travelling Theatre were in real trouble at 41/1 off 8 (eight-ball) overs. Scoring 83 off 48 balls wasn't quite impossible, however, especially with the likes of Dave Norman, Andy Owen and George Speller waiting to come in. The difference was that tonight the three of them made a total of 3 off 5 balls between them, in large part because the desperation of the situation was just too great by the time they got in. Probably the key moment was when Tom Jordan (3/16) got his first ball to Dave to stay low, smashing into the off-stump about six inches off the ground. This also left Tom on a hat-trick, although he'll have to wait until next season to see if he can get three wickets in three balls. (Not that you should feel too sorry for him, though, as his spell tonight has seen him leap to the top of the bowling averages, his superb haul of 25 wickets at 9.64 puttin him just ahead of Faruk, with "only" 14 wickets at 9.86.) As the game wound down Remnants took the opportunity to take some nifty catches, as Faruk (twice) and John Moore standing firm under those horrible spiralling edges that everyone hates. The only bright light for The Theatre was the batting of prodigal party athlete Jack Anderson, who smashed 32* off just 21 balls to at least give his team's total an air of respectability. He even managed to score 8 off the last delivery of the match, smashing the ball the mid-wicket boundary before everyone headed off . . . only for the scorer's insisntant calls that there was still one ball left to give Jack the opporunity of repeating the stroke.
Rather than just filing off the field, however, members of both teams formed a higgeldy-piggeldy guard of honour for Geoff, who today had played his 400th Remnants game. In true thespian style he milked the moment when, having noticed the guard forming, suddenly decided he was going to detour to pick up the bowlers' markers, thus prolonging the dramatic tension. After that there was nothing for it but the usual post-match ritual of eating bags of out-of-date crisps while discussing the physics of swing bowling . . .