Dave Williams reports:
Remnants' recent winless streak had left us parched and cracked, at least metaphorically. As the weather gods continued to bless our game with Aegean skies, would the cricket dittos smile as benignly? Gentle reader, you already know the answer, but read on to find out how . . .
Come 6:15pm, Remnants fashionistas will like to know that captain Andy Owen was chilling boundary-side in a summery orange/red shorts/T-shirt combo, radiating insouciance, modelling the most relaxed of responses to our grisly win dearth. No headless chicken he, Andy's shrewd cricketing brain was doubtless ticking away, calculating with his customary nous the tactical complexities of the imported (for the evening) TTP rule-set: an alien (to Remnants thinking) amalgam of "retire at 30"; wides and no balls count 2 but no extra ball unless there's an "r" in the month and/or somebody can think of something else that sounds like a good thing to do.
As the game languidly yawned, stretched and finally got going, Andy put the oppo in to bat and opened with Eli Ellwood from the Huntingdon Road end. Our statistically (but not ethically) most prolifically turncoating Remnant - viz. Julius Rix - was facing us, biffing away against his erstwhile comrades. And to good effect, too: 22 came off the first 3 (six-ball) overs, although by this time Andy had sent the dangerous Jamal back to the TTP hutch with a direct-hit run out. Ferdi Rex was hammering in from the Windsor Road end, having gathered a couple of yards of pace over the previous year. Equipped with a well-disguised slower ball to boot, Ferdi has become as slippery a customer as Mary Portas just stepped out of a barrel of goose fat (Eh? - ed.). Ferdi's four overs on the spin went for a tidy if wicket-free 23. First change after two overs from Eli was Shivaji Patil, who similarly found it difficult to tie up the TTP scoring; his first two-over spell went for 13. Julius had had to retire by now, but the tide began to turn when the introduction of Alec Armstrong's neat flighters brought a wicket third ball up, with a fine caught and bowled. Andy Owen came on at the other end: his four overs were a model of consistent fullish-length medium pace, aimed at that awkward place where you can't get your left foot out of the way to drive. Andy's mojo was working so well his second over was a wicket maiden; final figures of four overs, one maiden, 2/9. Ferdi picked up a great catch at mid-off, athletically spinning round to run back and hold on as the ball whistled over his shoulder.
Remnants fielding was tight throughout, with some impressive backing up by Dave Green - a skill not much mentioned in these reports, I guess, but it needs intelligent reading of the game to be where no one else is and at the right time. After Andy finished, Shivaji came back to finish his four overs for a total of 25; Alec's fine return was four overs, 2/16; Eli finished off with his final over, his four going for 28. Little by little we had, like pythons (Pythonidae, rather than Monty's), constricted the oppo to a niggardly 106, surely under par for a fast outfield and conditions offering no lateral movement through the air.
Andy turned to veteran Andy Bell and veteranner Dave Williams to get the batting going; Obi Wan KenAndy's Jedi-style exhortations to (respectively) "see yourself in then smash it" and "get thirty" only went wrong insofar as I was the first to retire (31* off 36 balls), my (if I may say so) rapier front foot drives through extra cover to backward point complementing Andy's bludgeoning violence (30* off 32 balls) mostly on an arc between midwicket and the backing-up batsman's head.
Tom Serby seemed a little lacklustre today for his 4 (off 13 balls); Dave Green came and went like that wonderful Kerouac quote about those that "burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars" (1 off 4 balls); Rob Harvey was focused and purposeful for his 6 (off 12 balls); Tom Collett was fluent and intelligent for a fine and timely cameo of 13 (off 14 balls); Ferdi (4 off 1) came in and finished things off with 8 balls to spare.
So, a nice return to winning ways.
A discussion point, arising indirectly from the TTP "retire at 30" and directly from our "give everyone a go" rationales: it's a good Remnants tradition that we appoint one of our best players to captain us, who then on appointment feels obliged not to play himself high enough up the order where he can actually turn a match. I haven't checked this, but a consistent feature of our series of losses is that some of our best batsmen often don't get to bat until it's too late - because they are captaining. Captains understandably feel uncomfortable at a potential ego-trip horror show, but I suggest that the rest of us understand that most of the time it's better for how we feel as a team if we win. I'm not complaining, by the way, and I know there are no easy answers. Alternatively, why don't we appoint captains who don't usually bat much?