The pre-match scene at Fitz today was a contrast of the new and old cricketing cultures. Most of the Remnants - and some of the, er, less recently born FAS players - were standing around in their whites, ready to go at a moment's notice. But the younger core of the FAS eleven were still in their various club casual shirts, most of which seemed to suggest some level of sporting sponsorship, and a few of which were even in tasteful colours. Actually, that's not quite correct: they didn't actually have eleven, and so Andy Bell kindly agreed to play for them this evening.
Andy's reward was to be bowled second ball by Daniel Mortlock (1/23) and then be immediately dragged out into the field when it was realised that Remnants was also a man short (another "no show" that was eventually traced back to the unexpected arrival of Ramadan). Andy put in a very good performance in the field, making a number of superb stops, although he was probably only about fifth best for us: John Young and Eli Ellwood made a number of diving saves, as well as rushing in to cut off quick singles; Robin Eddington was impenetrable (at least in a cricketing sense) on the square boundary; and Dave Norman took two catches (one after having to run backwards to hold a swirling ball; one a well-timed pull) and then ran out Joe White, who'd dared to try and take a second run on his arm. And that's to say nothing of the efforts of wicket-keeper Tom Collett, who ignored an edge into the grill of his helmet to make a number of superb stops and, later, to complete a well-deserved stumping.
Reading - or, indeed, writing - the above, it's hard to believe that we were never remotely in control while we were in the field. Normally, getting a wicket means that the run scoring slows down, at least briefly; whereas today it simply meant a new gun batsman to smash us to all parts of the ground. By and large we bowled well, except for the fact that most of the attack suffered one disastrous over that wrecked their figures and released whatever pressure had been built up. Hence Eli Ellwood (3/20) and Julius Rix (2/12), who both deserved their good figures, were denied fourth overs that might have wrecked them. The reason was a general policy of bowler rotation to try and prevent the batsmen getting into a rhythm, a policy that was somewhat justified by what happened the one time we violated it. When Dave Williams sent down a bewitching combination of leg spinners and faster balls and conceded just 10 runs from his first three overs, it was impossible to resist the temptation of giving him a fourth . . . but suddenly the batsmen had worked him out and the result was the horribly perfect sequence of 4 4 4 4 4 4. These were among the 16 boundaries hit by George Houghton, who finished on a rather scary 89* from just 52 balls, a particularly impressive feat since he didn't even get in 'til the 5th (six-ball) over of the innings. It was largely due to his hitting that FAS ended up on the decidedly healthy total of 157/7.
Given a rather strong middle order there was some chance we'd be able to mount a good chase . . . at least until we found ourselves at a rather dismal 16/2 after 5 overs. We then entered our one period of ascendancy for the day as Robin Eddington (16 off 21 balls) and Dave Norman (48 off 42 balls) scored with freedom . . . but it was perhaps telling that Dave was scoring at "just" one run per ball, rather than the two he usually manages in these sorts of matches. The bottom line is that the FAS bowling was just too tight and the fielding too good - although that did make it all the more curious that they'd put their one non-cricketer on the leg-side boundary, with the result that several fairly straightforward chances went begging. One of the beneficiaries was Daniel Mortlock (18* off 14 balls) who, with Andy "second bite of the cherry" Bell (11* off 10 balls), scored primarily in leg-side boundaries, not all of which were accompanied by "moo" noises. They at least took us into triple figures, but any chance of a win had departed with Dave a few overs from the end, and the only victory to be had was to try and deny Joe White (3 overs, 1 maiden, 0/5) a wicket, an endeavour as petty as it was successful.