These days, when a professional cricket team loses three matches in a row, it's not uncommon to start seeing articles infused with management-speak like "good governance", "best practice" and "leadership group". Given that Remnants governance consists of a single annual meeting and that many of us hadn't been to nets at all this year, the first two phrases don't seem to have particular relevance; but we do have a nominal leadership group, and tonight's team had captain Joe White and vice-captain Daniel Mortlock playing together the first time this year. There was hence the possibility for strong and unified on-field leadership . . . but in the end they were unified only by both arriving after the game had started. Maybe it was more important that we also had our full support staff present, with Geoff umpiring and Sal and Nicky manning (womanning?) the scorebooks. We certainly had to hope so.
Unfortunately the scorers had precious little to do early on as our top order of John Young (9 off 16 balls), Rob Harvey (20 off 24 balls) and Tom Jordan (23 off 28 balls) all struggled to break the shackles of a nagging but unthreatening Romsey bowling attack. Still, being 60/1 off 9 (eight-ball) overs was considerably better than being 1/4 off 2 (as was the case last night) and, with Romsey turning to some of their less regular bowlers, there seemed to be a chance to accelerate.
Indeed, when occasional Remnant Jon Steele began the tenth over with a leg-side wide so errant that Rob didn't even think of playing a shot, the signs were good . . . except about half-way down the pitch the ball started to curve allarmingly and, even as Rob executed a curious evasive manoeuvre, it cannoned into the base of the stumps. Spectacular as it was to see from the field, it was even better viewed side-on from the pavilion: from that angle the swing was hidden and so it appeared that Rob had attempted to defend a straight yorker using interpretive dance.
From then on, however, it was Remnants all the way as Martin Law, having played himself in, started smashing boundaries seemingly at will. Okay, so some of his scoring required the collaboration of some hilarious Romsey out-fielding, but the hitting was first-rate, as demonstrated by an effortless shot over the mid-wicket greenhouse that was purely down to timing. Martin's dramatic timing was pretty good too: when he completed his fifty with a comfortable single everyone was ready to give him a warm round of applasuse; but then he failed to respond when Tom Serby (12 off 11 balls) called for what should have been an easy second run, with the result that Tom was run out and suddenly everyone got cold feet about enthusiastically clapping a team-mate's demise. Unfortunately this debacle was representative of much of our running and calling - we could have had another dozen runs if the batsmen had been consistently energetic and opportunistic between the wickets, rather than adopting the inferior strategy of confused apathy. Still, it didn't matter in the end as we ended up scoring 86 runs off the last 48 balls of our innings, mainly thanks to Martin's fabulous 59* (off just 37 balls).
Our strong position rapidly become dominant as we started brilliantly in the field. Joe White (0/4) took up where he left off against Jesus last week, Naveen Chouksey (0/19) got good lift and pace, and Tom Jordan (0/18) would have had a few wickets but for the fact that, apparently, we were playing some sort of stumping-free cricket variant. Maybe more importantly there were some electric stops in the field, with John Moore, Matt Hughes and Naveen all saving valuable runs with great stops.
Still, Romsey were hanging on, mainly through the efforts of Jon Steele, who'd belted his way to 48 at this stage. He got an easy single off his next shot and then decided to go for the second run that would take him to his half-century. It seemed he'd chosen the right fielder, Daniel Mortlock, since most of Daniel's earlier returns from fine leg had been taken by the point fielder (except for the one that went straight to third man). But, angered by the implied slur on his fielding, Daniel hurled the ball straight to 'keeper Rob Harvey, who smashed down the stumps with Jon way short of his ground. That should have been that, but for some reason nobody appealed with much enthusiasm, and the umpire seemed uncertain . . . so it was bloody lucky that Jon had given himself out and was already half-way back to the pavilion by the time the rest of us had worked out what was going on.
Just as Jon's wicket had seemed to catalyse a phase transition in the first innings, so it did now, and Remnants completely dominated the rest of the game. The mopping up operation was enjoyed most by Adrian Mellish (2/17) and Matt Hughes (1/29), who both got their first wickets of the season, but it's safe to say that all the Remnants present (well, maybe excepting the five playing for Romsey) enjoyed the simple pleasure of a win.