Paul Jordan somehow managed to drag himself out what sounds like a highly understandable post-match funk to write this autopsy report:
Two things occurred to me when scouring our personnel for today's game: i) we're full of bowlers and a bit light on batting; and ii) there isn't anyone else to jump in and write a match report. Turns out I was right on both counts.
The weather was rather benign and, while rain didn't look a possibility, there was a tangible change in the season: summer was definitely on the wane. Richard Rex was marshalling his Academicals in a very disciplined fashion pre-match, and on examining his team-sheet I noticed that every player was listed with their appropriate academic qualifications, a policy I think we should adopt (although my Cycling Proficiecy badge and 25 m Swimming Certificate might not count).
The toss was, er, tossed and we took to the field and so had first use of The Pink Ball (that was being used because we'd run out of red ones). This caused much consternation and suspicion, and spawned numerous "pink ball" jokes and innuendo-ridden remarks. Joe White (1/17) took possession of the, er, I mean the, um, well . . . IT . . and got the game underway by sauntering in for his first ball like a man who still hadn't recovered from the FAS tour. But no matter: his gentle loosener removed the Academical opener's off-stump - a "diamond duck", according to Eli. This brought together the father and son combination of Richard and Ferdi Rex, looking to score off both Joe and Jeff Beaumont (0/9), who bowled a great line and with nice variation from the Northern End. The fielding at this stage was surprisingly sharp, and pick-ups were made with a flourish, particularly early on by Paul Jordan . . . but sadly his throws post pick-up were often so wide that they flew past the outstretched arms of 'keeper Rob Harvey. Richard Rex unluckily strained his calf and had to retire, leaving Ferdi and his new partner to provide stout resistence, Ferdi combining technically correct shots that did not produce no runs and improvised shots that provided plenty.
A change of bowling produced a change of fortune, and Faruk Kara (2/21) soon had the batsmen swishing and missing. Eventually he bagged himself a couple of deserved wickets, one thanks to a sharp stumping by Robbie. But Ferdi was still proving a difficult customer and during Paul Jordan's spell of 2/15 he contrived to play on but somehow survive the balls impact onto his stumps. Eventually he fell to the famous Slower Ball, which on this occasion was adjudged by Joe to be "a genuine off-break which dipped and deceived the batsman". Enough said.
Matt Hughes (0/18) came on and ripped a couple of leggies but found Julius Rix in a belligerent mood. Julius scored pretty freely with some big pulls and straight hits. The spectre of the Remnants Dropped Catch continued to haunt us, a new member joining this not-so-exclusive club: step forward Jeff Beaumont. Andy Bell was probably close enough to have taken the catch himself, but when Jeff called him off . . . but unfortunately this one didn't stick. Tom Jordan (0/18) came on towards the end and, despite bowling some great deliveries, had no luck. Even so, we kept The Academicals to a modest 107, an even lower target than we'd successfully chased down in the dark last night.
Given that we had no obvious openers, it was interesting speculating who might start the Remnants reply. And so out came Eli Ellwood and Joe, literally leading from the front. They stayed together for 14 (six-ball) overs, during which they gently ticked over the scoring despite the fairly pedestrian bowling on offer. There was no sense of urgency and there was a danger that we might make this game tighter than it needed to be. With 6 overs to go we needed about a run a ball - ordinarily not a big ask, but somehow it didn't look like we were going to do this easily, with The Academicals, now being led by one-time Romsey player Tom Woolford in Richard's absence, fielding well and their change bowlers keeping the pressure on.
After Joe was dismissed for 43 (off 40 balls), Tom Jordan (9 off 9 balls) came in to bat; normally would have batted out the innings but, having had his pads on and not being let off the leash earlier, he let his frustration get the better of him and holed out to a great catch at deep extra-cover. After this the wickets kept tumbling, and the decently-pacy opening bowler returned to dismiss Jeff Beaumont (4 off 4 balls) and Andy Bell (0 off 4 balls), respectively. Eli (29* off 57 balls) was still there but was running out of partners, and with 10 balls to go we still needed 8 to win. Two wides notwithstanding, Ferdi Rex's death bowling kept us pinned down, and with Keith Turner (0 off 5 balls) unable to connect we were running out of time. Keith was dismissed by Ferdi off the second-last ball, leaving Faruk Kara with the unenviable task of needing to hit three off the last ball to win. Unfortunately for us, Ferdi finished the match with yet another dot ball, and somehow The Academicals had pulled off an implausible win. (Oh, and in case you hadn't worked it out already, the clear man of the match was, as usual, one our own, Ferdi Rex scoring 30 off 38 balls, taking 3/23 with his medium pacers, and nabbing a catch.)
How could we lose chasing 107 against only a moderate bowling attack? For what it's worth, my thoughts are that we went through the motions when batting, playing in a pedestrian way against an attack that wasn't particularly threatening. Stating the obvious, perhaps, but after 10 overs we should have been in a much stronger position. We were the architects of our own downfall. Disappointing for sure, but not a disaster to lose a game of cricket to such a charming collection of characters who, in the end, deserved their win. Perhaps their victory could be traced to their superior team-sheet at the beginning?