Some forty Remnants cricketers and supporters congregated at Fitzwilliam College's playing fields this evening to pay tribute to ex-captain Steve Rawlings, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. A number of regulars from the '80s Remnants teams were present tonight, along with Linda Rawlings, Steve's wife, who came all the way from Oxford to join in what was, fundamentally, a celebration. Geoff and Linda both gave brief speeches to start the evening, but instead of a minute's silence we had a long round of heart-felt applause. The combination of cricket, good friends, beer and a BBQ in the glorious afternoon sun is pretty good approximation of Steve's ideal evening - all that was missing was a soundtrack by Pink Floyd.
The match itself saw Remnants proper up against a Steve Rawlings XI, the core of which was made up of Remnants who'd played with Steve back in the '80s and '90s: Alan Heavens (who last played in 1985); Steve Gull (who last played in 2004); Mike Sneyd (who last played in 2010); Geoff Hales (who retired once again last year); and Dave Green (who last played in, er, May this year). Supplemented with some younger talent, such as 12-year-old wicket-keeper Samuel Serby, the plan was for the old-timers to show the, er, slightly less old-timers in the Remnants team a thing or two.
But it didn't quite work out that way, as the Rawlings XI, who fielded first, found themselves up against a Remnants top order that was in great form. Richard Rex (60* off 65 balls) and Tom Serby (43* off 32 balls) remained undsimissed; John Young (10 off 19 balls) was doing just fine until he was unluckily stranded out of his ground when bowler Nick Clarke (0/15) deflected Richard's straight drive onto the stumps; and Dave Williams (34 off 31 balls) also looked pretty comfortable until he got a nice yorker from Daniel Mortlock (1/30). Really, though, the Rawlings XI bowlers' offerings were treated with largely justified disdain - only Joe White (0/11 from 5 economical overs) managed to go for less than a run a ball.
All that meant plenty of work for the Rawlings XI fielders - one can only assume that Messrs Heavens, Gull, Sneyd and Hales were starting to regret their decision to come out of retirement. Still, all four did a fantastic job: Alan and Steve sped across the turf to chase down big drives and educated edges; they all executed some stunning and gutsy saves closer in; and Geoff and Mike, in particular, backed up throws in the sort of selfless and energetic fashion that we don't see nearly enough of on a weekly basis. Their efforts helped prevent a complete blow-out, but even in a Test match a scoreline of 171/2 makes it pretty clear who's winning.
After possibly the most populated club photograph ever, Remnants set about defending their big total, which they did with almost textbook efficiency. Kiran Sakhamuri (0/10), Atta Rehman (0/17) and Phil Hastings (0/12) provided the sort of economy that had seemed impossible an hour earlier while the fielders backed them up superbly as well. Prima inter pares was John Young, who made some stunning diving saves; Tom Serby managed a direct hit run out to see off the dangerous Julius Rix (9 off 11 balls); Phil Hastings effortlessly completed a difficult outfield catch to get rid of the even more dangerous Nick Clarke (26 off 27 balls); Andys Owen and Bell stayed calm under spiralling top edges; and Tom Collett took a slips catch with the sort of nonchalance one usually only sees on TV. Tom's catch was one of several chances induced by the surprise destructive force of Michael McCann, who took variety to its extreme (i.e., everything from rank full-bungers and double-bouncers to near-perfect Warne-esque leg-spinners) to match-best figures of 3/16. Add in an ultra-economical spell of 2/13 from captain Andy Owen and you have a comfortable 63-run victory.
That said, the Rawlings XI batsmen, fuelled by the never-ending supply of burgers and pints, never gave up. Openers Nick Clarke (26 off 27 balls) and Samuel Serby (26 off 47 balls) joint top-scored and Joe White (14 off 16 balls) and Alan Heavens (14 off 12 balls, including a life-saving pull off a full-toss that otherwise would have hit him in the face) both made some handy runs, but the real highlight was when three founding Remnants batted out the last few overs. Mike Sneyd (5 off 19 balls) brought his fielding enthusiasm with him when he batted, at one point trying to call his partner through for a cheeky bye when the ball was safely lodged in 'keeper Rob Harvey's gloves. Steve Gull (6* off 9 balls) was similarly aggressive with his running and also dealt with the fact that he came in on a hat-trick by smashing his first ball through mid-wicket for four. Mike and Steve seemed destined to bat out the overs until the former was bowled on the penultimate delivery of the match. Despite the fact that Dave Green (another veteran Remnant, although not a founder, having first played in our third season) was padded up, it was clear that fate had made its decision and Geoff had no choice but to head out to face the music. Andy ran in and bowled his best yorker, but was met with a familiar foward stride and straight bat, and so Geoff had his 54th "red ink" in his 115th Remnants innings.
With that it was back to the bar for more beer and more burgers - and even a curry for some. Our little celebration felt like a great evening - and it was also a more tangible success, as we managed to collect GBP 200.00, to be donated to Linda and Steve's chosen charity, Guide Dogs For The Blind.
Shine on, you crazy diamond . . .