For most of the day it seemed as if the nonchalant comment from the previous match report that "only one of the last 14 matches has been washed out" had doomed today's game. But the weather eventually held to the degree that a match could be played, albeit in decidedly slippery conditions, as Dave Williams reports:
When Bob Dylan wrote "It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry" he was almost definitely not thinking about cricket - but what the hell anyway. Certainly the first seven overs of the Philanderers' innings had the kind of unstoppable momentum that looked very much a tragedy in the making as the good locomotive Remnants seemed to have jumped the rails. Not that Atta Rehmann's 4-over spell of 0/21 wasn't excellent - he was getting good lift off a surprisingly fast track, and beating the bat with a succession of good-length deliveries. The main problem was our fielding. Connoisseurs of cricket at our level will know that the cognitive gap between the slow-mo HD replays of implausibly horizontal dives in the professional game and our own modest efforts is very large indeed. Tonight that gap (and the fielding) was abysmal. Perhaps it was the new ball, slippery and damp from the rain. Perhaps it was the lack of studs in several people's footwear. Atta's nippy pace induced three catchable chances, two off top-edged hooks, all of which were shelled. Sure, we all drop catches, but with the opposition openers looking dangerous, it takes emotional resilience to keep going and not lose heart or get angry, so respect to Atta and all the team for keeping positive and avoiding the blame game.
Ewan Campbell, first over at the other end (studs-free), seemed to be struggling with his run-up and unable to hit a length, and was duly tonked for 18 off his solitary over. Maybe it was excitement of blanket media coverage of his wife's first class degree for an exam taken 28 hours after giving birth (see above). Kiran Sakhamuri's third over at least brought some closure (as they say) by getting a top edge off a mistimed pull, calmly pouched by Rob Harvey with the sticky gloves on. Kiran cut out the middle man by hitting the stumps next over, finishing with 2/24 off his 4. From a runaway 56 off 7 (six-ball) overs, we were starting to get some control, though a feature throughout was strongly hit shots going right through fielders on the boundary - we probably gave away 20 runs for misfields. Captain Andy Owen reeled off a typically miserly 4 overs (0/11). Eli Ellwood found it useful to bowl all three of his victims, his four overs going for 31 as the Philanderers' lower order's clean hitting started a late surge. The ever-risky choice of yours truly for bowling looked like making the last of the wheels come off (. 6 4) but Kiran (who else this evening?) snaffled a top-edged hoik to fine leg (on the one), first having slipped over like James Brown doing the splits, getting up in an instant, and calmly hanging on. 1/16 off my 2. The coda was Richard Rex's mesmeric off-breaks, his single over getting a wicket for 9 runs. The go-stop-go pace of the Philanderers brought them 137 - with rain on the outfield slowing the ball down, this was looking a big ask.
In response, their bowling looked like it was going to be easier than it was. One of the unspoken rules of our level of cricket is that people not wearing whites are usually worse than those who do - they've usually been roped in as friends and don't play regularly. So my little piggy eyes lit up at the Philanderers' opening bowler coming in wearing blue shorts and baggy matching kagoule (with hood). Unfortunately he was nippy, getting sharp seam movement in a six-inch corridor starting at off stump. At the other end the batting opener also opened the bowling - not a good sign. His rapid first 3 overs went for 7 (and my wicket - for 4 off 7 balls - off a faint nick). Richard and Michael McCann were running well, taking sharp singles at will to any fielder, turning ones to the more senior fielders into twos. But we were going slowly. After 7 overs we had 22 on the board. The change bowlers brought some relief, with some heavy scoring by the wides department and the average number of bounces per delivery rising up towards 2. Even so, these kinds of deliveries are not easy to put away. Richard was finding his big guns before getting run out for 34 (off 44 balls); Michael went for 23 (off 29). In the panic to get a move on, Joe Hawarth (1 off 3 balls, second run out), Ewan Campbell (4 off 8 balls), Andy Owen (9 off 7 balls, third run out), Atta Rehman (0 off 2 balls) and Eli Ellwood (1 off 8 balls) went rapidly. With three overs left and 36 runs to get, it was looking like the Remnants train was running out of steam. Hustling and bustling, if never dominance, brought us to 17 needed off the last over.
On comes their quickest opener - his three overs to date only went for 7 - and surely Kiran Sakhamuri, our number 10, couldn't noniply (i.e., multiply by 9!) the scoring rate? Answer: 4 . 6 4 4 - job done, and with a ball to spare. No problem - just get Kiran (19* off 6 balls) and Rob (6* off 3 balls) to save the day. Mind you, this is easier to describe than to do - very impressive. "It takes a lot to laugh . . ."