Remnants' only afternoon game of the season came about after Tom Woolford (who'd taken over as captain of The Academicals when Richard Rex had strained his calf a few weeks back) had sent a speculative e-mail enquiring as to whether Remnants would be interested in game today. An equally speculative e-mail was sent around to the club and, somewhat surprisingly, it seemed we had a full eleven available to play this afternoon. We thus headed off to Trinity College's Old Field site on the corner of Grange and Adams Roads, where Dave Williams takes up the story:
A comfortable win and an enjoyable day are not always kissing cousins, but today we had both. Our wanderings about on a pleasantly hot English August day on the stately and expansive Trinity College Old Field had the pleasure of being under a procession of zoomorphic puffy cloud shapes fringeing from white to light grey, whose twin purposes seemed to be to cool the bowlers off for a while and reveal the achingly blue sky in between. The Romsey Town avatars of the Remnants are no strangers to this beautiful ground, and I found myself first wandering into the "home" changing room before diverting to "away".
Paul Jordan was an admirable stand-in captain today; he was clearly pumped, in a captainly sort of way, and showed excellent focus, purpose and an encouraging man-management style throughout. His proactive captaincy had already been at work before the match: the disappearance of his son for extended R'n'R (previous occurrences, apparently, have resulted in cricketing no-shows) spurred him to recruit Oliver Rix from Newmarket. [Message to historians in 700 years' time: this is not a scribe's error - one vowel different from our very own Olly Rex, but definitely another person.] We could see from the cut of his jib, before a ball was bowled, that he was clearly "a cricketer", as subsequent events would prove.
Meanwhile Paul had lost the toss, and turned to the impressive opening attack of Jeff Beaumont and Olly Rex. Jeff has a strong and rhythmical run-up and high arm action that presages good control as well as pace. When he bent his back, even on a fairly slow Old Field track he was delivering good carry through to the keeper. He consistently beat the edge of the bat with no luck - a high looping top edge off an attempted cut went to one of Paul's inventive and effective field placings, a fly slip two-thirds of the way back; this particular person (me, I'm sorry to say) was guilty of the drop. Jeff eventually had excellent figures for his single spell of 0/23 off 7, with 2 maidens. Olly, at the other end, was similarly economical: first spell of four overs for 17, giving way to Quentin Harmer. Quentin's excellent line, length and teasing pace (ranging from slow to ultra-slow) continued to restrict Trinity scoring rates - when Jeff came off for a well-earned rest after the 14th over 14 Trinity were 42/0. Ferdi Rex showed the luckless Jeff how these things are done, with a wicket (Trinity captain Woolford) off his second ball, but also Jeff's first catch of the day (of which more later). Would their number three be able to step up the pace? Nine dot balls to start with suggested not. Quentin had got the other opener by this time (I caught this one for a change), but then the shots started to come: Quentin's sixth (and final) over went for 14, taking the gloss off his stats for a 1/24. Alarm bells were starting to ring, but the Trinity sharp calling led to a slow-mo running disaster with two batters at the bowling end. Quentin had part-stopped at cover but kept his cool to lob back to Olly Rix behind the stumps, their dangerman number three having given up halfway down the pitch (for 40 off 31 balls). Looking back, this was a pivotal moment where, had rationality kicked in, the other batter should have made sure he was the one to go.
In the next phase Trinity reverted (but not without trying) to their stately three-ish an over, pinned down by Faruk Kara's metronomic and mesmeric offbreaks, eventually bringing the rich harvest of 7 overs, 1 maiden, 4/25, including the cameo of a reverse sweep going straight to Paul at gulley. Ferdi Rex got a very tidy 4 overs, 0 maidens, 2/9, including a smart stumping by Olly (not brother) standing up. Eli Elwood got carted by the number three to start with but came back well for his 4 overs, 0 maidens, 0/28. Meanwhile Paul was setting impressively tight, fluid, thoughtful and effective fields, but perhaps the most unusual performance was a total of four catches by Jeff, keeping good balance to pluck out a couple of high ones that were nearly over the top of his head. Richard Rex was selfless and generous in running keenly while clearly carrying a painful injury to his leg. All in all an impressive effort to keep the score down to 130 and get the final wicket off the last ball of the 35 overs.
Job half done, but what about the batting? Messrs Williams and Serby opened; I watched four go past before opening our account with a crunchy maximum over midwicket - one I promise you I will be replaying on my private memory cinema during this coming winter. The next four balls to me went for 11 before I shortly spliced a short one from their captain to mid on. Tom faced six wides during his 8 before looping one up behind to their glovesman, and Eli Ellwood was outscored by wides faced during his 3. Richard Rex was struggling to reach full pace with his running but still drove crisply off the front foot on the off to get to his 23. Four down for 99 off 16 overs; clearly run rate (helped by 21 wides in the whole innings) was not going to be an issue as Remnants seemed to click into 20-over mode.
Olly Rix saw a few in to start, but then found his scoring touch and seemed to have plenty of time to play fluent shots all round, with some particularly stylish cuts off the back foot (Ian Bell-style) through the cover point area for his impressive 36*. Captain Paul kept pace with him, though, judicious aggression bringing him 17*. We had knocked off the runs in 19.4 overs - the pace of the 20-over game must be in our collective blood. A trifle for snappers-up of these things: three Remnants fielders (yes, the younger ones, the older ones having cunningly pre-emptively showered and changed) were fielding substitutes throughout, one of the Trinity players having gone to collect his parents from the airport before coming back for the barbecue. Their stand-in batting number eleven was also apparently committed to exercising his Labrador puppy but miraculously appeared for the eats and drinks. I don't even know what happened to the other one - ah, the joys of the amateur game.
The Remnants showed our versatility in a swift change into barbecue mode - charcoal was lit and pints were supped as the game drew to its ever-likely conclusion. Food and drink to the hungry and thirsty on a beautiful summer's evening wrought their usual magical upbeat-feeling. I don't know what everyone else talked about but I felt privileged to be there at that moment. I felt too that we had a kind of good connection with the other team. The Trinity captain felt moved to say a few words, ending both his tenure and speech with a splendid rhetorical flourish of the bat in his hands that just happened to smash a hapless pint glass into hundreds of pieces. You can't follow that, but the incoming captain graciously mentioned his hopes for a repeat fixture next year - I hope we will.