Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Given that this year's Remnants vs. Remnants game was actually an impromptu replacement for our away fixture against Churchill, today's game against Geoff's President's XI had an extra festive feel to it. Geoff had recruited some one-time Remnants regulars, such as Colin Anderson and Mike Jones, along with a few special guests, like Hart-McLeod's Richard Burgess. Add in great weather and quite a big spectator fleet - lots of partners and children, not to mention Mike Sneyd (who has adopted an ambitious "two beers at once policy") - and everything was set for a glorious evening's cricket.
Remnants batted first, setting the rhythm of the day from the opening ball, which Faruk Kara (14 off 14 balls) disdainfully cut to the point boundary. From that moment on it was almost completely a batsman's game as the Remnants line-up of Faruk, Ev Fox (25 off 21 balls), Roy Page (12 off 13 balls), Dave Williams (16 off 12 balls), Julius Rix (22* off 11 balls) and Martin Law (48 off 46 balls) all scored freely. In some sense it was the perfect Remnants innings, combining a big score with most of the team getting a bat. For the most part the runs came when bad balls were dispatched to the boundary, although Martin also managed to flick a few delightful leg-side sixes off middle-stump - and that despite the fact that there were two men stationed on the boundary for exactly those shots. That the ball repeatedly sailed over said fielders' heads wasn't maybe that important, though, as any chances that went to the fielders were spilled, an unimpressive trend that continued for the duration of the match.
Indeed, the fielding was generally awful, with just about everyone making a few clangers - the only exceptions were Ferdi Rex, Andy Owen, Richard Burgess and Geoff Hales, who all got their body behind the ball, rather than just waving an outstretched tentacle at it. There was one moment of genius/luck, when Mike Jones belied the fact he hadn't played any cricket for a year by following a one-handed pick-up with a perfect throw to run out Roy. But, given all the dropped catches, maybe the best play of the day was when Richard steadied himself under a big off-drive from Martin and held the cleanest of catches, afterwards snarling "There was no way I was going to drop that!", hence getting revenge for the aforementioned sixes. Richard's catch also gave Daniel Mortlock (4/25) one of his four wickets, although the real bowling star was Martyn Waterfall (1/16) whose beautifully flighted offies had the batsmen in all sorts of trouble. Along with Oliver Rex (0/17) he was one of only two bowlers to go for less than a run a ball all day.
The domination by the bat continued in the second innings as The President's XI opening pair of Ferdi Rex (10 off 14 balls) and John Richer hared off at about 10 an (eight-ball) over. But when Jeff Beaumont (1/25) and Faruk Kara (1/27) took wickets in consecutive overs The President's XI was reduced to 51/2 after 6 overs. Ordinarily that would still have been healthy enough scoring, but in the context of this game it was clear that Remnants were ahead - The President's XI needed to score 108 from the remaining 72 balls.
Still, John and new batsman Mike Jones took to their task admirably, both of them biffing the ball this way and that while Mike kept cracking the whip to herd John through for the sort of hyper-aggressive second and third runs that aren't, well, a club characteristic. John passed his half-century off just 38 balls, at which point his watching family decided they'd seen his moment of glory and so headed home. Big mistake: John kept smashing the ball high, wide and handsome, with "high" being the most imprtant of the three as, with the light now fading, it was increasingly clear that being caught wasn't a serious risk. This was demonstrated most strikingly when John was dropped off consecutive balls: from the first he smashed a pull straight towards Paul Jordan at short mid-wicket, who did very well not to be killed, but couldn't take the catch; the next ball John tried to pull as well, but he top-edged it miles up in the air, vaguely in the direction of Paul . . . who became the very definition of "not fancying it", the ball plopping into the now dewy grass even as he suddenly decided to move in that direction. It was becoming ever clearer that The President's XI chase was going to be successful, but the new source of tension was whether John was going to complete his century. With 8 runs still needed for the win John had reached 97, at which point he played a delicate leg-glance that was going to yield at least two runs . . . and then, with the help of the baying crowd calling for one more, the third that took him to a superb century. Mike then smashed the winning runs with a dozen balls still remaining, leaving him on 23* (off 30 balls) and taking his partnership with John to 108* (off 66 balls) . . . which was remarkably similar to John Richer's individual contribution: a superb match-winning innings of 101* off 63 balls. (Not that his family will believe it, despite his desperate attempts to photograph the scorecard after the game.)
More to the point, it was a deleriously fun game of cricket - at least if you weren't a bowler or a fielder (half of whom ended up injured). Everyone from 400-game veterans to potential new recruits had their part to play, and the general feeling was of a club in rude health . . . which can only have increased when a goodly number of us went off to The Tandoori Palace for a low-fat, low-carb detox meal.