Remnants vs. The Woozlers

18:00, Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Fitzwilliam College

The Woozlers (117/5 in 15 8-ball overs)
lost to
Remnants (119/5 in 13.2 8-ball overs)
by 5 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Having been thumped by the Woozlers back in May we wanted revenge today, and the early signs were good when they confessed that they'd been subject to a slew of drop-outs and were down to eight. (Although any more and it would suddenly have been flipped into the bad news of no game.) That said, the eight they had seemed pretty good, so the result was far from a forgone conclusion.

Woozlers captain Sam Grimshaw and Daniel Mortlock about to toss up. (Andy Bell suggested that Daniel's decision not to wear shoes was to ensure a good feel for the pitch.)

Dave Norman, Daniel Mortlock and Grant Kennedy contemplate starting with a big slips cordon.

We chose to field first, and quickly made a breakthrough when Andy Owen (2/11) induced one of the Woozlers' openers to mis-hit a drive that was well caught by Naveen Chouksey. That then brought the game quickly to a head, as it reunited Sam Grimshaw with Ryan Bridger, and we were once again faced with the pairing that had single-handedly (well, double- or even quadruple-handedly, really) defeated us in 2010, 2011 and earlier this year. But for once they didn't quite get going, as Dave Norman (0/23) restricted them effectively and then Daniel Mortlock (1/24) made the critical breakthrough by bowling Sam. We almost got Ryan as well when Julius Rix followed up a long chase with a big return to Daniel, who almost got his "turn and throw" right, but the extra fraction of a second required for 'keeper Ev Fox to gather the ball and break the stumps was enough for the batsmen to get the benefit of whatever little doubt there was available.

Ev Fox and Andy Bell wait for the edge that never came . . .

. . . because the ball was being smashed into the pavilion roof.

Not the right shot to play at that delivery, as 'keeper Ev Fox would presumably agree.

Umpire's call!

Thus we had to be content with containing rather than dismissing the batsmen, which we did reasonably well. John Moore (1/22) and Catherine Owen (1/17) both got amongst the wickets, the latter thanks to a good diving catch by her dad after he'd mis-judged the flight of a lofted drive. Fortunately for Owen family harmony he just recovered his ground to pick up the ball inches off the turf, but he then incurred his daughter's decidedly Owen-like wrath when, a few balls later, he tried (and failed) to stop a boundary with an out-stretched leg.

Catherine Owen sends one down . . .

. . . and Andy Owen elegantly completes an effortless catch off his daughter's bowling.

The reaction Andy would have been faced with if he'd dropped that catch.

Not that Andy was the only one to try that trick, John making a spectacular stop with his boot in the same over and several other people showing off their footballs skills. The preference for feet in place of hands was possibly understandable, since we repeatedly failed to pick up rolling balls at the first attempt, allowing a crazy number of second runs. For every good chase, sharp stop or powerful throw there was a ridiculous fumble; this might have made sense if the ball was bouncing off a hard, dry outfield, but it was actually nicely soft and true, so it was as mysterious as it was frustrating. More dramatic was when Ev moved across to take would seemed likely to be yet another leg-side wide, only for the batsmen to follow the ball and execute a 180 degree pull, the ball slamming into Ev's chest with the sickening sound of snapping bone. Everything froze at the horrorific prospect of a serious injury, but somehow there was no damage done - and, even more strangely, there was barely even a hint of a bruise by game's end. We almost had another injury in the final (eight-ball) over when an expansive drive was smashed straight at Dave Norman - normally it would have been the easiest of catches, but Dave lost the ball in the trees and in the end had to make a goalie-style save to both avoid getting hit and complete the catch.

John Moore gives it some air.

Ryan Bridger on his way to another half-century against Remnants, and Ev Fox continuing to stand up to the stumps despite earlier being thumped in the chest.

This catch also led to a little bit of by-play that revealed how desperate the Woozlers were to get every last run they could: despite the ball flying quick and flat to Dave, non-striker Ryan (who'd now passed fifty and was scoring with complete freedom) made the rather implausible claim that the batsmen had crossed. After some debate we let it ride, and we got our little bit of natural justice when the batsmen could only manage singles from the two final balls of the innings.

Our pursuit of the Woozlers' 117/5 began smoothly enough in cricketing terms, with Andy Bell 9 (off 19 balls) and Julius Rix (16 off 13 balls) taking us to 27/0 in the fourth over, but off the field it was a cricketing nightmare. We were now down to ten, Grant Kennedy having headed home to put ice on his thigh muscle, torn while fielding; and we'd donated two substitute fielder to the Woozlers (in addition to our twelfth man Dave Green and would-be spectator Richard Rex). Add in two umpires (no Geoff today) and a scorer (no Sal either) and it meant there were just three Remnants off the field. That was just fine while the openers were still out there; it wasn't so fine when we suddenly lost three wickets in four balls, the result of which was a crazy game of musical chairs in which Julius had to rush out to umpire the moment he'd taken his pads off, umpire Ev Fox had to come in to pad up, John Moore had to go from sub fielder to umpire, and Catherine Owen had to go out and field. Things finally calmed down when the Woozlers' late reinforcements arrived - and while they looked worryingly athletic, they were adamant that they'd never actually played cricket, so it didn't seem there was any danger we'd suddenly have the game taken from us.

That said, things were rather in the balance with the score at 53/3 at the exact half-way point of the innings: scoring 65 from 60 balls should have been pretty routine, but even a single bad over would have been enough to put us under pressure. And we did get a bad over of sorts, as The Woozler Known As Damian lulled Ev Fox (14 off 16 balls) into relaxing with a series of wides and long-hops, only to then pounce with an off-cutter that just clipped the bails. This, however, led to a perfect storm, as it brought Dave Norman to the crease just when it seemed the Woozlers had run out of bowlers. What had been a close game rapidly became a rout, as a combination of big pulls and wide wides saw the next overs leak 17, 7, 25 and 9 runs. Importantly, it wasn't just Dave scoring heavily: his eventual 36* (off 34 balls) was all but matched by Andy Owen, who finished on 27 (off 31 balls). He should have remained undismissed as well, but he suddenly got it into his head that he should finish the game with a big six - which he might have, if he'd connected. That left a reluctant Daniel Mortlock (0* off 1 ball) to head out on a hiding to nothing, and was he more than relieved when Dave finished the game off with a big boundary (and 14 balls to spare).

The over of mayhem from Damian after which the match tilted decidedly in our favour - and troubled the scorer.