Dave Williams reports:
Daniel magicked up a new side for us this season: ARM. [But we've played them three times before! - ed.] It's good to see that this new breed of corporate behemoth, employing 1200 at their "global centre" in Cambridge, can both supply "the architecture of the digital world" and be unabashedly committed to the primitivisms of the ancient game of cricket. Based on the likely ages of the digerati and the size of their pool of players, we might have expected a good side - as we were to find out.
In good conditions with some white clouds captain Andy Owen lost the toss and took to the field, wicket-keeping today instead of Sam Serby. Felix Serby opened from the Huntingdon Road end, Julius Rix from the other. Both were pitching perhaps too short, but the ARM openers' increasingly expansive/airborne shots weren't middled; a five-iron to long off at the end of Julius's first over was pouched with style and good humour by the ARM sub fielder bedecked in stripey purple t-shirt. It's always nice to see opposition sub fielders catching their teammates, and not only because it's a wicket for us - it sets the tone for a friendly and relaxed game.
John Moore (1/30) came on first change for over #5, his miscellany of lobs and hurry-ons getting some tonk to start with. A long hop carted to the square leg boundary brought out, next ball, John's equivalent of getting "pumped": his super-slow parabola gave the batsman enough time to find out they can suffer from sleep apnoea before the ball eventually made contact with the stumps.
Shyam Perisetla bowled three overs at skiddy pace (a tidy 1/17), his wicket coming from a sharp stumping by Andy, standing up - as ever. As the ARM opener started to open up his bag of big shots I trundled out a decent-enough over for 9. Sam Serby bowled 2/17, his gentle offies(?) bagging a couple of wickets. Felix (0/23) and Julius (2/26) finished things off, thanks to another Andy stumping and another splendid sub catch to end the innings of their opener (73).
Remnants' fielding was reasonably tidy, with no dropped catches. John Young was noticeably busy, and Felix's throwing was astonishing - I wonder how many batters are going to get run out by him this season. ARM had never looked liked like taking things too far away from us. With the lush outfield, though, fours were difficult to come by - their 128 was the equivalent of summer 150.
Tom Serby and I opened our reply. ARM had an unusual ring of fielders, all saving one. With their athletic stops and our tentative batting, runs were hard to find. Tom's attempt to break out was smartly caught at extra cover: Tom out for 2. Josh Nall looked balanced and well-organized, without (to start with) finding his timing - after 5 (eight-ball) overs we were thoroughly becalmed on 6. In one of those odd reverses that are one of the rich pleasures of the game, the next over was a diet of nervy long hops and over-pitches that was carved for a delicious if contextually bipolar 25.
The ARM off-spinner then came on. We were looking to make up for being behind the rate, but he bowled with fine control of length, line and pace to bamboozle four of us: Josh (18); me (13); Sam (6) and Julius (0) - all bowled. John Young showed good aggressive intent for his 9, but our run rate was falling further behind the required rate until we reached the last over needing a mere 50. Andy, as ever, looked comfortable and in control as he carved, nurdled and hoiked 28*. I confess I sometimes wonder why Andy puts himself in so low down the order - today he was number 8. I don't think many of us would mind if he went in earlier.
The blazing orange sunset over Sherlock Road was more impressive for the glowering greys and blacks of the clouds overhead. A few drops of rain fell but we had finished. Many thanks to ARM for being a pleasure to play against.