"Lost, lost, tied, lost, lost, lost, lost, lost." No, it's not the recent match-record of the Australian Test team (who are on a losing streak of just four) but what appears in the results column for the last eight Remnants games (not counting cancellations and internal fixtures). We last won against St Barnabas Church way back on June 4, when it was still raining and Britain was still waiting for a male Wimbledon champion. It's quite possibly the longest win-free sequence in the club's history - feel free to rummage around the archives in the search for an even worse run - and it was about time to end it. There was maybe some hope in the fact that the "tied" above came when we last played Fen Ditton, who were our opponents today. Maybe more important, though, was to get a bit tougher, adopting a "no holds barred" approach in which all other considerations (most obviously making sure everyone gets a bat or bowl) are cast aside in the one-eyed hunt for the ultimate prize. That might suggest a somewhat militaristic approach to the game, with discipline and order used to instill resolve in the minds of the troops and raise standards . . .
. . . whereas instead the game started with Remnants one man short (despite the first ball not being sent down 'til about 6:20pm) and the captain setting his field in his socks (as one of his boots was trapped in the bar and Dave had headed off to watch his daughter in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream). The overall effect can't have been particularly intimidating for the Fen Ditton openers, a sense that was reinforced when one of them started smashing huge sixes, one of which deposited the shiny new ball in an Oxford Road backyard. And unfortunately that really was the story for the next hour: we bowled well, if maybe a little predcitably; the batsmen swung hard and connected more often than not. Despite a top-notch fielding display - Naveen Chouksey and Matt Hughes held difficult catches of spiralling top-edges and John Moore, Samuel Serby, Ferdi Rex and Mihir Chandraker all did superb work in the outer - we were never able to sustain any significant pressure on the Fen Ditton batsmen, who seemed able to score at will. There were only 4 (six-ball) overs from which fewer than 5 runs were scored, whereas 9 went into double-figures. Or, put another way, there were 19 boundaries, about a third of which were sixes. There wasn't much joy on the bowling front: while Paul Jordan (1/31), Naveen Chouksey (1/33) and Mihir Chandraker all took wickets, Daniel Mortlock (1/11) was the only bowler to go for less than 7.50 an over. The end result of all this was three balls lost (although the original ball was miraculously re-found at one point) and a surely winning total of 170/4.
We might have had some chance if we'd had an all-time best Remnants batting line-up, or if we were batting in the same conditions (once again the ball started staying much lower once the shadows of the trees fell across the wicket and a suprisingly nippy evening started to fall), but we had neither. Our top order of Tom Serby (21 off 25 balls), Samuel Serby (12 off 21 balls) and Mihir Chandraker (18 off 23 balls, before smashing a classical on drive that was somehow caught by the close-in fielder) all did okay but, like the bowleres before them, couldn't really get on top of the game, and only John Moore (11 off 11 balls) even managed a strike rate of 100.00. Our malaise was perhaps best summed up Ferdi Rex, who returned to the pavilion having been bowled for a third-ball duck - he was greeted with the usual "bad luck"s and then a few questions about whether the ball swung ("don't think so") or turned off the pitch ("not that I could see") or stayed low ("didn't feel like it"). In the end Ferdi could only shrug and say he had no idea why he'd missed what seems to have been a slow, straight ball - a maddening mystery that most of us have experienced at some point, and perhaps an apt metaphor for our efforts today.
The last half of our innings was as entertaining as it was uncompetitive. The absolute highlight was Rob Harvey's top-edged cover drive that just fell short of two converging fielders (who then had to take evasive action in the manner of the star destroyers pursuing The Millenium Falcon as it made its escape from Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back) and then spun so viciously as to evade a third. There was probably a reasonable chance of a second run, but the problem was that both batsman and non-striker had decided to watch the excitement together from prime seats mid-pitch, and in the end Rob only just managed to scramble back to regain his ground. Unfortunately the scoring all but ground to a halt - the match petered out with just 1 run coming from the last 4 overs (although that run did at least mean we finished with more than half Fen Ditton's total).
"Lost, lost, tied, lost, lost, lost, lost, lost, lost." Bugger.