Report by Dave Williams:
A rather wonderful development latterly in the perennially changing Remnants team culture has been the increasing presence of Remnants sons. For several years now we will all have felt proud that the remarkable and talented Rex dynasty and the gifted young Serbys have been making increasingly positive - even dominant - contributions to every aspect of our team's play. Today's game saw the next step: Fathers and Daughters, namely Andy Bell's two, Lauren and Colette, and Andy Owen's Catherine. All three have been playing at a high level in women's (and other) cricket, so it seems as natural as the leaves on a tree that they should join us now. Catherine has played for us before, of course, but three daughters at the same time is, I think, a Remnants first. [Confirmed - ed.]
The three women were in the Remnants team; by contrast, longstanding stalwarts Phil Watson, Mike Jones and Steve Attmore - with Geoff Hales in whites once again - were in the President's XI. I think Geoff won the toss and decided to bat; Dave Green (with an ex-treasurer's sense of good housekeeping - usually our opposing teams don't like them) chose to reduce our stock of pink balls.
Julius Rix opened the Remnants attack from the Huntingdon Road end. In the glorious late summer sunshine the pinkness of the ball against the lush green of the grass and the ultramarine of the sky was eye-searing, reminiscent of the way the cartoonists in The Simpsons draw the radioactive ingot in the opening sequence. Perhaps dazzled by the day-glo, the President's Mike Jones was noticeably restrained to start off with, although Ferdi Rex was already going for his booming straight drives against Lauren's first over from the Windsor Road end. The first of tonight's many comedy fielding moments was Rob Harvey back-pedalling, going for a catch at long-on, only to fall over backwards as the ball plugged a few yards behind him.
Julius's two (eight-ball) overs went for a tight 9; in Lauren's three she beat the bat on several occasions but seemed to be dragging the ball down short, hence conceding 30 runs, mostly through mid-wicket. Richard Rex mesmerized Mike with his first four looping off breaks, but the rest - specially his variation leg cutter - were despatched to all parts by the increasingly dominant Presidential openers. Taking over at the Windsor Road end, Catherine immediately found an excellent length to clean bowl Mike (31 off 33 balls) with her first delivery. Meanwhile, the catching horror show was, er . . . catching, as catch after catch went to ground - the droppers will remain nameless, if only because this report would be too long. The rare exception was Lauren at gully, cleanly taking Ferdi's (a fine 42 off 34 balls) edge off Catherine (three overs, two for 26).
Even though Nick Johnson found his scoring shots quickly, the final phase of the Presidential innings was won decisively by the Remnants. In the penultimate over captain Andy Owen conceded just 3, and took Nick's wicket (26 off 29 balls) in one of the few moments of all-round cricketing excellence: Ev Fox cleanly snatched Andy's leg-side yorker and whipped off the bails in the split-second Nick was off balance - one of the best stumpings you will ever see. Joe White, meanwhile, had already only conceded 6 runs in his first two overs - against Joe's pace and excellent line'n'length Richard Burgess (4 off 16 balls) just couldn't get the ball away. From the pavilion Phil Watson had assayed a sumptuously ambitious 50-metre sledge of the umpire (Geoff) for a non-no ball decision, and Dave Green (as is his wont) had exhorted the batters in praise of the tonk, but Joe's final and concluding over went for a ruthlessly skillful 1, including a catch (mirabile dictu) at cover from surely man-of-the-match Julius (see below). Not out batters were Phil Hastings (2* off 5 balls) and Phil Watson, for an attention-grabbingly minimalist 0* off 1.
Bells Andy and Colette opened with their willows for the Remnants in reply; Hastingses Ollie and Phil did the honours with the day-glo for the President's XI. From the Huntingdon Road end Ollie's economical and elegant action was getting good late movement both ways. His fourth ball was enough to send Colette back to the pavilion LBW scoreless. Your reporter came in and managed some square off drives for some fours, but at no great rate. Andy (17 off 27 balls) was aggressive in intent but was nullified and finally extinguished by Ferdi's excellent pace changes and tight line; John Young (9 off 18 balls) couldn't get the Watsonian annoyingly slow lobs past the off-side inner ring before perishing, playing across one of Phil's straight ones. All in all, the Remnants reply was drifting from third to second gears. Some extras were keeping the rate at between 7 and tailing off to 6 an over, but the match was heading the President's XI's way. All four Presidents' bowlers managed similar kinds of figures - for their three overs: Ollie went for 20 runs, 1 wicket; Phil H 17; Ferdi 18, 1 wicket; Phil W 18, 1 wicket. Dave Norman then came on for the thirteenth and threatened the same control Joe and Andy had exerted earlier. His fourth ball flicked the top of my off stump (36 off 50 balls). At the other end, though, the decisive over (the fourteenth) was Nick Johnson bowling to Julius. As the sun dipped below the houses in Eachard Road, Julius unerringly picked up the flight of Nick's looper and dumped it over the other side of the big long on boundary. The complete sequence for the over unreeled as a stunning and game-changing 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2. Off the last over - from the ever-dangerous Dave Norman - Remnants still needed 6, but after a couple of singles, on the fourth ball Ev Fox played one of his trademark crisp front-foot on drives, past the massed ranks of boundary fielders and over the white line in front of the paviliion, to the cheers of the delighted/surprised Remnants. At the death Ev was 6* (off 4 balls), Julius a brilliant 24* (off 11 balls).
An unlikely but (for the Remnants) uplifting win [even if it was only an internal game - ed.]. The only other candidate for the unofficial man - or woman - of the match was Ferdi, who out-totalled Julius, took a wicket and saved at least a dozen runs by prowling huge areas of the big Eachard Road boundary, but Julius has to get the nod for sheer winning force of will.
In the bar, Rob was arguing that the fierce iridescence of the pink ball converts light from the infra-red part of the spectrum into visible wavelengths but in so doing turns the ball into a weird alien scary mini-spaceship that subconsciously we want to run away from. Actually I invented the last bit, but Rob's point (and the methodology for some proper empirical verification) was well worth discussing over a biryani and beer or two. On which note, come 9:30pm or so, the Tandoori Palace magicked into existence their usual for us, our numbers this time - including four Bells and three Owens - up to a mighty 16.